Exhibition to highlight the understated role of women in technology

An exhibition entitled Hidden Histories of Women in Computing has gone on display at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI ) in NUI Galway. The exhibition highlights how, in spite of many obstacles, women have over the centuries made significant contributions to advances in communications and computer technologies.

“For millennia, cultural, social, religious, and legislative obstacles have ensured that females were denied access to many professions,” said Brendan Smith, DERI’s outreach officer. “Despite this, computing does have its female champions. Take for example the mathematician Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, who wrote in 1843 the world’s first ever computer programme.”

The exhibition comes on the back of the provision by DERI of information workshops to second-level students on the historical role of women in science and technology. These workshops are aimed to help increase the percentage of women involved in the higher echelons of technology research and innovation, needed to create a sustainable smart economy and a knowledge society.

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway, which is an internationally renowned centre of web science research, has just completed a season of outreach activities based around the broader theme of digital inclusion.

“Since February our institute, under the banner of ‘An Online Ireland, Accessible To All’, has provided a comprehensive programme of courses, workshops, and exhibits aimed at involving sections of society that have felt at some time excluded or even threatened by the rapid advances in technology innovation,” Mr Smith said.

In 2005 DERI pioneered classes for older people that introduced the practical benefits of web technologies such as Skype and online social networks. Over the last few months the institute has continued to meet the demands of this sector by organising, in association with the Galway Education Centre, internet courses for retired teachers.

The institute also commenced the provision of online interactive guided learning programmes for asylum seekers in Galway city, in partnership with the ICANDO initiative.

DERI also recently rolled out a series of after-school workshops for parents of primary and post primary schoolchildren on how to identify and tackle the growing phenomenon of cyber-bullying among children and teenagers.

DERI, a centre for science, engineering, and technology (CSET ) supported by Government through Science Foundation Ireland funding, was established in 2003, and has become an internationally renowned web science research centre, providing the technology which underpins intelligent services on the internet. Current research results include semantic search engines, novel collaboration, and social media, as well as sensor network technologies.

For more information about the Hidden Histories of Women in Computing exhibition visit www.deri.org

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