Encouraging more women to break into technology careers is a key focus for RMIT student and Google scholarship winner, Judith Gammie.
The Master of Computer Science student, who co-founded a new network for female tech students at RMIT earlier this year, has been awarded Google's 2014 Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship.
Ms Gammie feels the scholarship comes with an obligation to carry on the work of the American computer scientist in whose memory the scholarship is named.
"Receiving this award is a real honour as the scholarship is named after Dr Anita Borg, who devoted her life to breaking down barriers that prevent women from entering technical fields," Ms Gammie said.
"The scholarship has really encouraged me to continue to do whatever I can to help set an example and support other women thrive in technical degrees."
To redress the gender imbalance in technological areas Dr Borg founded the Institute for Women and Technology in 1997, with a vision of ensuring that women made up 50 per cent of all computing graduates by 2020.
Although Dr Borg died with her work far from finished, through this scholarship Google aims to encourage women studying computing and technology to become active role models and leaders in these fields.
"I think this award is really important because it acknowledges the importance of making sure women are strongly represented in technical degrees and careers," Ms Gammie said.
"I also admire the fact that Google is putting its money where its mouth is to help tackle the under-representation of women in the industry."
While acknowledging that addressing this inequality is a worthy cause on its own, Ms Gammie feels there are also practical reasons for encouraging more women to take up technology careers.
"I'm passionate about getting more women in tech as I think it's important for the makeup of teams who are creating products to reflect the makeup of their user base," she said.
"For example, the first batch of artificial heart valves couldn't be used for women and children because they had been designed for men and were too big."
Ms Gammie helped found RMIT SWITCH to encourage women studying technology to pursue careers in the field.
Ms Gammie and a group of other female students established RMIT SWITCH (Society for Women in Information TeCHnology) early in 2014 to build a supportive community of female tech students by running a combination of social, technical and career-focused events.
"I am the President and one of the co-founders of SWITCH and so far we've got 70 members, which is a great start," she said.
"We want to do whatever we can to help women thrive in technical degrees and careers, as well as working to increase the visibility of female role models in the tech industry.
"The opportunities for interesting and rewarding careers in tech are endless and it is a shame that many women miss out on those opportunities because they don't see tech as a viable option for them."
Along with her outstanding academic record, it was this enthusiastic advocacy for women in technology that swayed the scholarship judges, according to Stephanie Borgman, a Google talent scout and internship program manager.
"Judith was selected based on her demonstrated leadership in the field and passion for computing and technology," she said.
"I'm happy to congratulate her as one of the 2014 APAC Google Anita Borg Scholars, and we continue to invest in scholars such as Judith because it's important to support the next generation of female computer scientists."
Ms Borgman hoped the influence of the scholarships would hopefully extend much further than for just the individual award winners.
"Judith is a role model for other women and will continue to dismantle the barriers that keep women from entering computer science fields," she said.
"Even more than the scholarship award, we want to create a supportive peer network, not just in Australia, but throughout the world.
"We believe having a diversity of perspectives leads to better decision-making, more relevant products, and makes work a whole lot more interesting."
As a recipient of one of only six scholarships awarded in Australia, Ms Gammie joined another 26 Anita Borg Memorial Scholars from all over Asia Pacific for the APAC Anita Borg Scholars Retreat in Tokyo in September, which included workshops, speakers, panellists, breakout sessions and social activities over several days.
Dr Lawrence Cavedon, from RMIT's School of Computer Science and IT, sees the scholarship as just reward for a lot of hard work and high achievement.
"This is a fabulous achievement by Judith and the School is extremely proud for one of our students to have achieved this award," he said.
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