Encouraging women into tech

Amy Gibbs, Ashley Biggs, Lervene Dindingwe, Alison Dowdney, Catherine Fromont and Jessie Thu Le from Nyriad would love to see Cambridge women attend the She# computer programming event in Auckland.

An event in Auckland this week has been organised by Cambridge-based technology company Nyriad, along with She# (pronounced She Sharp), in an effort to give people – particularly young women – a taste of the computer programming field and encourage more women in the tech workforce.

The local exascale software company runs a computer programming internship course locally, and often hires those who are successful, who become part of a team which writes and develops software and operating systems involved in hyperscale data storage – a leading edge technology developed right here in Cambridge. Generally, only one or two girls, if any, are involved in each intake, and only four of its five dozen computer programmers are women.

“During each new intake of interns, we noticed that there are fewer females than male,” said Nyriad’s Jessie Thu Le, one of the organisers of the event. “And then we heard of the She# group … and cooperated with them to make this event and encourage female intake.

“We also want to provide an opportunity for attendees to learn more about Nyriad’s internship program and how to apply. … We are hoping to see at least 50 young students at the event and are looking forward to seeing how they respond to the problem-solving exercises we give them.”

Though aimed at women, the event is open to all people, all ages, all walks of life, who would like to get a taste of computer programming and learn about the Nyriad internship – which is open to anyone, regardless of having computing qualifications or not, as it provides training resources and sessions, and with a friendly team who are happy to help along the way. The only thing you really need is perseverance.

“It’s definitely an interesting experience,” said Catherine Fromont, 20, a Cambridge local who did the Nyriad internship after deciding university wasn’t quite for her. “It was hard. The amount of learning that you can get in the internship, like I’ve never had to learn so quickly and intensely in my life, but it was a good experience.”

“It gives you perseverance,” added Ashley Biggs, 23. “I think I had the record for a while for the person who spent the longest time (on one task), but it’s really rewarding when you get it done.”

“It is very challenging,” Lervene Dindingwe, 23, added. “But it’s good because you’re working with everyone and you can see them persisting, working hard, and that drove me as well, to keep going.”

“It’s really fun getting a project and just being able to run with it,” said Alison Dowdney, 20, a former St Peter’s School student. “If you’re, say, a girl in high school and you’re wondering ‘what is this computer science?’, ‘is this a career path that’s for me?’, this event would be perfect for you.”

All four of the girls are local computer engineers at Nyriad and will be attending the She# event in Auckland next Thursday, July 26, at Auckland Rose Park Hotel’s Parnell Room, 5.30pm to 8pm.

For students, attendance to the event is $5, or $10 for professionals. Tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite.co.nz or by contacting Eventbrite on 0800 448 422.

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