Countdown is on to find UK's top computer girl

Countdown is on to find UK's top computer girl

They are the finalists in the Axios 'A' Star Awards for the UK's top female computing students, organized by international IT Service Management software firm Axios Systems and co-sponsored by Accenture and IBM. The event is a major initiative to encourage more women to take up careers in computing and redress a serious gender imbalance in the industry. 


Eleven girls qualified for the final after achieving the highest scores by female candidates in 'A' Level Computing or Scottish Advanced Higher examinations marked by the UK's six leading awarding bodies. 


Their tiebreaker entries were submitted over the Internet for judging by a panel of experts including British Computer Society Chief Executive David Clarke, Equal Opportunities Commissioner Surinder Sharma and Computer Weekly Editor Hooman Bassirian. Finalists had to design a Website aimed at attracting women into IT. 


The result will be announced at a reception at the Science Museum, London, on Tuesday 4 November. 


Prizes will be presented by Jacqui Smith, UK Minister of State for Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women and Equality. The include trophies, cash, a laptop computer donated by IBM, a Personal Digital Assistant, and a trip for two to the USA. 


Ailsa Symeonides, Sales and Marketing Director of Axios Systems, said the standard of the finalists' entries was very high. "They were generally not just technically excellent but showed a mature understanding of the underlying causes of the lack of women in IT and put forward some excellent solutions for tackling the problem," she commented. 


The finalists are: 


Kathryn Brown from Bridgend, South Wales (who took her 'A' Levels at Bryntirion Comprehensive School) 

Karen Forbes from Portadown, Northern Ireland (Portadown College) 

Emily Grainger from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (The Cedars Upper School) 

Jennifer Houston from Edinburgh (The Mary Erskine School) 

Sarah Joy Maddeaux from Woodbridge, Suffolk (Northgate High School) 

Tejal Mistry from Rugby (Rugby High School for Girls) 

Perdita Robinson from Headington, Oxford (Cheney School) 

Sarah Rogers from Kings Kerswell, Devon (Torquay Boys Grammar School) 

Sarah Rowing-Parker from Wales, Sheffield (Wales High School, Rotherham) 

Teresa Thurston from Poole, Dorset (Canford School) 

Michelle Carson from Bonnyrigg, Midlothian (Lasswade High School).