A University of Limerick student has been awarded a prestigious Generation Google scholarship for women in computer science.
Róisín Mitchell, a second-year Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems student in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS) in UL’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, is one of 12 undergraduate students in Ireland to receive the scholarship from Google this year.
The scholarship aims to enhance gender equality within the field of computer science and related fields in Ireland and inspire women to serve as influential figures in the industry.
Róisín, who is from Stradbally in Laois, is a mature student who worked in hospitality prior to the pandemic but decided to come back to education, completing the mature student access course at UL.
“When the pandemic hit, I realised that I wasn’t working towards ensuring a better future for myself and the mature access programme gave me the chance to take a year to assess the level of commitment needed to pursue a third-level education. I always had an interest in computer science, gaming, and coding, so the programme has really allowed me to follow my passion.”
This is not the first time that Róisín has had her academic achievements recognised by industry, having already received the Intel Women in Technology Scholarship in January of this year. These two scholarships include an annual financial bursary as well as mentoring from employees and work placement opportunities.
“Receiving the Google scholarship is a really great opportunity for me as it means I won’t have to take on part-time work and can fully concentrate on my studies. When I received the Intel Scholarship last semester my grades improved because I didn’t have to worry so much financially. It’s a great boost and I’m thankful that these avenues exist for students,” Róisín said.
Congratulating Róisín, JJ Collins, Associate Professor in Software Design and Machine Learning in CSIS said: “It is very encouraging to see our students being supported by leading technology companies. Students of the calibre of Roisin are the next generation of innovators and will lead software engineering practice for many years to come.
“According to Science Federation Ireland only one in five computer science graduates are women and The Generation Google scholarship for women in computer science seeks to promote better balance in the industry. The CSIS Department at UL celebrates Róisín’s achievement in being selected for this prestigious award.”
The Google scholarship requires that the recipient demonstrate leadership in improving the representation of underrepresented groups in science and technology, something which Roisin has been committed to, firstly as her class representative and more recently working to create a society for women in technology in the university.
“I think from my own experience, and looking around at younger student classes, I can see that it can be isolating to be the only woman in the room. Having this society would create a support network for women in technology at the University, giving them another social outlet and allowing them to learn from others in a similar situation,” Róisín added.
Róisín explained that she is also determined to capitalise on the experiences that will come with the scholarship.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing my learning and the chance to gain any practical experience I can from these companies that are leaders in the technology sector.”