CategoriesTech NewsUK News

Why aren’t more girls in the UK choosing to study computing and technology?

As the proportion of girls taking these subjects remains low, teachers reveal why they believe that is and what they’re doing about it

Getting women into tech careers has never been more important, but teachers believe old-fashioned stereotypes about subjects such as design and technology and computer science put girls off choosing them at school.

In 2020, the number of girls choosing to study computer science GCSE was 16,919 – just over 21.4% of total entrants – compared with 61,540 boys. Slightly fewer girls and boys picked the subject compared with the previous year.

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Ministers should not have cameras in their offices, Sajid Javid says

New health secretary confirms recording device in his office has been disabled after Hancock leak

Cabinet ministers should not have security cameras in their offices, the new health secretary has said, after his predecessor was forced to quit when CCTV footage showed him breaking Covid rules by kissing an aide and paid adviser.

Speaking on his second day in the job since taking over from Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid confirmed the recording device in his new office had been disabled.

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EU rules UK data protection is ‘adequate’ in boost for business

Long-awaited decision allows information to continue to flow to and from Britain

British data protection standards are “adequate”, the EU has ruled in a long-awaited decision that lets digital information continue to flow between the UK and the bloc. But Brussels warned Boris Johnson’s government against weakening UK standards.

Failure to get a positive decision would have risked plunging British businesses into disarray, leaving industries from banking to logistics scrambling to set up more costly, bureaucratic alternatives to share data.

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‘A talent scout can’t go to 100 shows a night’ – how big data is choosing the next pop stars

Faced with so much new music, major labels are using algorithms to hunt down tomorrow’s hits. Is this great news for rising stars – or the recipe for a bland new future?

One lunchtime about three years ago, Hazel Savage and Aron Pettersson set a new piece of software running on a laptop then went to a nearby mall for a sandwich. They hoped, on their return, to have the answer to a question that would change the music industry: can a computer pick a hit record?

The pair had just founded their firm, Musiio, in Singapore’s Boat Quay district. Pettersson, who is Swedish, was a specialist in artificial intelligence (AI) with a background in neuroscience; Savage, a British music industry professional with tech pedigree, had worked for Shazam and the Pandora streaming service. They let their software loose on the Free Music Archive, one of the world’s largest collections of copyright-free songs. These are written by little-known artists and commonly used for soundtracks and podcasts. They asked their computer to pick 20 songs from the archive, based on their similarity to a tune Savage liked: I Wanted Everything by the US indie star Kurt Vile. Back in the office, they listened. “Every song was great,” says Savage, “and every song was of a similar genre.”

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Hackney blames a cyber-attack for not issuing council tax refund

It was more than seven months ago, but it still can’t say when I’ll get my money

Can you please ask Hackney council to pay the £1,071 in council tax it owes me? It claims it can’t because it faced a big cyber-attack more than seven months ago.

I moved out of the borough in August 2020 and filled in the required form to let it know that I would no longer be paying council tax. I received an email receipt and assumed my direct debits would be cancelled. However, in early May, I discovered it was still taking £119 from my account each month.

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UK financial watchdog cracks down on cryptocurrency exchange Binance

FCA steps up oversight amid warning to consumers about platform

Britain’s financial regulator has ordered Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, to stop all regulated activity and issued a warning to consumers about the platform, which is coming under growing scrutiny globally.

In a notice dated 25 June, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Binance Markets Ltd, Binance’s UK entity, “must not, without the prior written consent of the FCA, carry out any regulated activities … with immediate effect”.

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Amazon and Google investigated by UK regulator over fake reviews

CMA will decide whether consumer law was broken by not taking sufficient action to protect shoppers

Amazon and Google are to be investigated by the UK competition watchdog over concerns the tech companies have not done enough to tackle the widespread problem of fake reviews on their websites.

The Competition and Markets Authority, which began looking at the issue of fake reviews on major platforms two years ago, will now consider whether Amazon and Google have broken consumer law by not taking sufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

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Google starts warning users if search results are likely to be poor

New message warns that results are ‘changing quickly’ and may not yet include reliable sources

Google has started warning users when they search for a topic that is likely to have poor results, as part of its effort to tackle “data voids” on the search engine.

The new warning was spotted by Renee DiResta, an academic who studies misinformation at Stanford University. “It looks like these results are changing quickly,” Google will now caution users. “If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources.”

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Memo to corporate leaders post-Covid: the disruption to businesses has only just begun | John Naughton

Managerial hierarchies must learn the true lessons of the pandemic if they are to survive and thrive

Pandemics, the historian Yuval Noah Harari has observed, have a way of accelerating history. Just ask the founders of Zoom. Only two years ago, we were all thinking that it would take at least another decade before video-conferencing became an integral part of the way we work in organisations. Then along comes Covid and in three weeks we’re all happily Zooming (or unhappily in the case of Handforth parish council). And now we’re more or less acclimatised or, at any rate, resigned to the idea that remote meetings might be here to stay.

The problem with having had the fast-forward button suddenly propel us into an unexpected place, though, is that we find ourselves unmoored. We start wondering about what lies ahead as the immediate threat of the virus recedes. What will our post-pandemic future be like? In relation to work, three main possibilities are currently taking up all the airtime: continuing to work from home (WFH); a hybrid mode in which we spend some time in the office but also two or three days WFH; and a return to ye olde days commuting to the office to gather round the water cooler and pretend to be doing something useful.

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I spy: are smart doorbells creating a global surveillance network?

They were sold as gadgets that meant you would never miss a delivery. But now doorbell cameras – from Amazon’s Ring to Google’s Nest – are recording our every move

I have got a new doorbell. It’s brilliant. It should be; it cost £89. It’s a Ring video doorbell; you’ll have seen them around. There are others available, made by other companies, with other four-letter names such as Nest and Arlo. When someone rings my doorbell, I’m alerted on my smartphone. I can see who is there, and speak to them.

My phone is ringing! C major first inversion chord, arpeggiated, repeated, for the musically trained – you’ll recognise it if you’ve heard it. It’s a delivery. Amazon, as it happens; Amazon acquired Ring in 2018, reportedly for more than $1bn.

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