In the news: Wendy Hall

October 17, 2003

Wendy Hall is a woman in a man's world. She was the first female professor of engineering at Southampton University and is the only female member of the council of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Next week, she will take up her appointment as president of the British Computer Society, only the second woman to hold the position in its 46- year history.

The proportion of women working in information technology has been falling since the 1960s. Less than than 20 per cent of technical professionals and a quarter of computer science students are women, something Professor Hall is keen to address.

Professor Hall attributes her success to a single-sex education, which gave her the confidence to stand up for herself in predominantly male environments.

She completed a PhD in mathematics at Southampton but discovered the joy of computing only when lecturing in a teacher training college. She began research on teaching using computers and returned to Southampton in 1984 to join the School of Electronics and Computer Science.

Claiming not to have written a line of code in 15 years, Professor Hall is now head of the school, where she set up the Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia Research Group and co-founded the Centre for Digital Library Research and the faculty of engineering's Learning Technologies Centre.

In 2000, Professor Hall received a CBE for services to education and science, and she is non-executive director of a slew of companies, including her own.

As president of the BCS, the main professional and learned society in the field of IT, she will be involved in its campaign to make professional qualifications as in-demand for IT as they are for law or accountancy. The BCS is also devising computing badges for Scouts and Guides.

She lists drinking wine and an annual sun fix in Skiathos as her main interests - when she has any spare time.

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