Trailblazing women who have helped advance technology north of the border have been recognised for their efforts at an inaugural national awards event in Glasgow.
The first Scotland Women in Technology awards aimed to celebrate those with the drive, commitment and passion to further the tech agenda across the country.
It’s part of a wider drive to inspire more girls to study STEM subjects and ultimately pursue the growing number of tech jobs available.
Only 36 per cent of science graduates are female, 10 per cent lower than males, despite girls outperforming boys at school.
The number of girls studying computing, physics, biology or chemistry at Higher level in Scotland has also dropped markedly over the last 10 years.
That’s despite a jobs boom in the STEM sector. Industry estimates suggest that 640,000 jobs will need to be filled across the UK in the next six years, including 52,355 north of the border.
Presenting the award for Primary Teacher of the Year, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Improving skills, enthusiasm and knowledge of STEM at all levels of school, college and university and encouraging uptake of careers in this sector are vital to both Scotland’s society and our economic prosperity – this is the central aim of our ambitious STEM strategy for education and training that launched yesterday.
“Another key aspect of this is increasing female participation and closing the gender gap that exists within the sector. We are committed to tackling that imbalance and to challenging the gender stereotypes which contribute to it.”
The awards ceremony began with JP Morgan being awarded Employer of the Year. The company impressed the judges with their efforts in engaging multiple women into tech activities, including coding activities for young girls lead by JP Morgan’s female technologists.
Inspirational Woman in Leadership went to Sharon Moore of IBM, who impressed judges by leading the BCS women’s network in Scotland and being recognised as one of the i newspaper’s Scots women making their mark on London.
Director or CEO of the Year was won by Jeanette Forbes of PCL Group. The judges thought Jeanette was a worthy winner for this award considering her journey to becoming CEO of her own company.
Jeanette founded PLC Group in 2000 after being made redundant in the oil and gas sector. She retrained in IT whilst working full time and raising a family. With just £100 she started her company, which now works across Australia, Singapore, Trinidad, Norway, Texas and Kuala Lumpur.
Ruth Burnett of Bishopton Primary was awarded Primary Teacher of the Year. Ruth previously worked in a STEM related role herself before becoming a teacher. She ensures all pupils are engaged in computing studies by organising Google expeditions and inviting technologists and engineers from the community in to talk to students.
Secondary School Teacher of the Year was won by Kelly MacDonald of Harris Academy for her work in encouraging girls to study computing.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer of FDM Group. Sheila has had a varied career, which began in the police, where she was one of the very few women patrolling the streets of Glasgow.
Since then she has worked in IT roles in the public and private sectors for more than 25 years.
She is a founding director and COO of the FDM Group in Glasgow and has helped it rise to its prominence, working to ensure gender equality at every level of the company.