Source: Coventry University
Promoted by Coventry University

Coventry University: Where women can lead with passion

There are more women in technology today. It’s taken a while but prominent industry players are making slow but steady progress towards this shift, with Deloitte reporting that women are achieving double-digit gains in leadership roles

The consulting firm found that women’s share in the overall global tech workforce increased by 6.9% from 2019 to 2022, while their technical roles grew by 11.7%.

However, despite the high demand for computing experts today, fields like computer science and cybersecurity remain male-dominated. At Coventry University, that is not the case. Here, women are supported and empowered to be the driving force behind entire faculties. Such is the case for Dr. Faye Mitchell, who heads the School of Computing, Mathematics and Data Science since July 2022. 

This school offers postgraduate programmes like Artificial Intelligence and Human Factors MSc, Computer Science MSc, Cyber Security MSc, Data Science and Computational Intelligence MSc, Data Science MSc, Management of Information Systems and Technology MSc, and Software Development MSc.

Mitchell completed a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science at the University of St Andrews in 1992 before heading to the University of Aberdeen where she graduated with a Computer Science MSc and a Machine Learning PhD. 

Her primary interest is in applying machine learning to real-life problems, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity, digital forensics, and systems administration. “I have a particular interest in using AI and ML to protect the data centre,” she says. “I have worked on various projects to that end, including work to detect attacks on the UK’s WHOIS infrastructure.

Mitchell has been active in several research topics, including Smart Cities, Turbines, Digital Forensics, Artificial Intelligence and many more. She’s also successfully collaborated alongside other researchers and published 14 research outputs.

Source: Coventry University (Facebook)

Women in STEM are slowly growing in numbers, thanks to universities like Coventry University that encourages this. Source: Coventry University (Facebook)

Dr. Awinder Kaur, Associate Head of School – Enterprise and Innovation (E&I), is another prolific female figure. She oversees national and international commercial and innovation activities within the Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing. “I am in charge of developing and leading the enterprise and commercial activity, together with the external engagement and partnerships for the school,” she says.

Technology and a passion for learning fuel her. “I consider myself as some sort of technology enthusiast who loves reading and learning about technology development, and sharing and implementing it in the classroom,” she says. Her CV thus far includes work with top organisations, the likes of Bosch, JLR, Manpower/Experis Group, KPIT, Bentley, Ricardo and FEV.

Faculty members like Mitchell and Kaur are only a tiny part of how Coventry University supports and recognises women. They’ve taken it a step forward by immortalising famous women in their buildings on campus as well. One of them is the 25 million pounds Beatrice Shilling Building — an exciting addition to the Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, which is in tribute to the pioneering engineer’s contributions to the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine in 1940 fighter planes. 

Female students are supported and encouraged to be creative at Coventry University. Source: Coventry University

On International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023, attendees heard from inspirational women who encouraged students. One of them was Dr Katriona O’Sullivan, who revealed how she grew up in extreme poverty in the Hillfields area of Coventry. Falling pregnant at 15 and becoming homeless, she remembered how her school teachers looked out for her. A seed of hope was planted. Today, she is an award-winning academic who leads the country’s STEM Passport for Inclusion project.

Support for women in tech comes in many forms and shapes here. Recently, the university announced that it was selected by the British Council to deliver science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focused Master by Research (MRes) programmes to women from India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

“We are delighted to offer these prestigious MRes scholarships, successful students can immerse themselves in a comprehensive suite of researcher development opportunities through the Doctoral College and be part of a vibrant community. They will also benefit from a broad variety of placement opportunities with our strategic research partners,” says Carolyn Wynne, Director of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability. 

“We’re proud to offer several initiatives to support women in STEM, including the opportunity to participate in the Women in Engineering Society networks.”

Coventry University also regularly stays in touch with its women alumni. Using their stories and tales, they hope to continuously inspire female students, especially from countries where education might take a backseat because of their gender.

Zeina Almumalah is one example. Hailing from Jordan, she graduated with an Engineering Management MSc. Today she is the youngest manager at one of the largest construction and international building companies in the Middle East, BIC Contracting.

Journeys like these are typical of women at Coventry University. Backed by the support and encouragement of their peers, faculty and university, they’re set to achieve anything they set their minds to.

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