Inspiration for future advances in computing are as likely to come from chemistry, biological sciences and other disciplines as from mainstream computer science. This multidisciplinary future will bring more women into computing professions over the next decade and beyond, argued Professor Wendy Hall, President of the British Computer Society (BCS), at a University of Oxford Forum on Women in Computer Professions.

Professor William Dutton, the director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), which hosted the forum, agreed to work with the presidents of the BCS, Women @ CL, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and others to develop a joint forum around the future of computing, ensuring that women from multiple disciplines lead on envisioning future developments of information and computing technologies.

Professor Hall was one of four speakers who opened a lecture and forum on Women in Computing Professions: Will the Internet Make a Difference? The lecture took place at the Computing Laboratory of the University of Oxford on 17 June 2004, followed by a full day forum on 18 June 2004 at the OII. The event was organized by Professor Ursula Martin, OII Visiting Fellow and Chair of the Women’s Committee of the ACM, and her colleagues, in collaboration with the British Computer Society and the ACM. The forum brought together women from the social as well as the computer sciences representing 10 nations.

The meeting also heralded the start of the UK women in computing leadership (Women @ CL) project. It director, Professor Martin, explained that: “Women @ CL is here because computing technology is making an enormous difference to every aspect of the world around us. Its bad for women and bad for society that only one in five computing professionals is female!”