A prestigious scholarship has been won by a Computer Science undergraduate at the University of Bath, in recognition of her passion for technology and her academic excellence, as well as her exceptional qualities as a leader and role model.
Lara Sheard, who is in her second year of studies at Bath, is one of only 20 scholars in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (excluding Ireland, which has its own category) to win a 2023 Generation Google Scholarship for Women in Computer Science. She is one of just two winners in the UK. She will receive Euros 7,000 in prize money.
The Generation Google scholarship is designed to help aspiring female students pursuing computer science or gaming degrees to excel in technology and become leaders in their field.
Ms Sheard said: “I was extremely excited to find out I’d been awarded the scholarship – and I’m thrilled to have been recognised by such a prestigious technology company. Computer Science is such a fascinating subject to study and I’m looking forwards to continuing to develop my skills in this field.”
She added: “I’m particularly passionate about programming, so would love to participate in lots more hackathons during my time at university – I’ve already participated in the Bath Wackathon (a hackathon for women and non-binary students) and Bath Hack.” A hackathon is usually a competition where small teams have 24 hours to develop a program and then present their creations.
As part of the scholarship application process, Ms Sheard was asked to describe efforts she had made to improve equity in the field of Computer Science, and to give examples of her leadership roles.
“I talked about the lack of female role models and representation in the field of computer science – my GCSE computer science class was predominantly male and at A-level, I was the only female in my class.
“To address the problem, among other things, I encouraged my female friends to participate in the Alan Turing Cryptography competition, and we ended up finishing third nationally out of over 1000 teams.”
Commenting on Ms Sheard’s scholarship success, Dr Jo Hyde, lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Bath and member of the Institute of Coding, said: “Lara has demonstrated beyond a doubt that computer science is an exciting and worthwhile option for women, and that enthusiasm and willingness to try goes hand-in-hand with technical ability.
“I am delighted that Lara has won this scholarship, and I know that she will inspire more young women to enter this area, where, sadly, they are still under-represented, despite the immense talent and ability that they bring.”