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THIS GIRL CAN Week Blogs - Next up: Helen Miles!

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself including your involvement within Computer Science…

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, researching computer graphics and specifically virtual reality. I came in to Aber in 2014 to work on a research project, absolutely loved it and have been here ever since! 

I've been involved in a few projects over the years - including VR sports, digital archaeology, the Robotics Club, and most recently the 2020 ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars rover mission to Mars... computing really can take you in all kinds of directions!

  1.        Have you faced any challenges or barriers being a woman following your interests in Computer Science?

Unfortunately, yes. It's been implied to me more than once that my gender (and my ability to speak Welsh) give me more opportunities than others, but at the same time I have experienced people refusing me opportunities for the same reason. Nationally, only about 15% of Comp Sci students are women, and during my undergraduate studies I was the only woman on my course, which was very lonely at times. However, Aber Comp Sci is a great department to work in: around a third of the lecturers are women, and we are really working to promote equality and diversity within the department to make it a fair, friendly, and great place for all of our staff and students.

  1.        Is there a particular woman who inspires you or has influenced your life?

My colleague Dr Hannah Dee, a senior lecturer in Aber Comp Sci. She's been my mentor for the past few years and is just fantastic as a lecturer, researcher, outreach-er and advocate for women in computing. She founded the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, an annual one-day undergraduate conference for women in computing, when she was a PhD student. It's now about to run for the 12th consecutive year with 200+ attendees! Two years ago she handed the conference over to me - it's been an enormous learning experience, but she is supporting me every step of the way.

  1.        What would you say to other women who are thinking about entering into STEM but are not sure if it is for them?

Don't let anything stop you. Whether you want to be a programmer, roboticist, theoretical physicist, aerospace engineer, or any of the millions of careers that STEM can lead to, you can do it! Life is short, the universe is huge - find something that makes you happy and a group of like-minded people who will support you.


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