Professor Hazel Hall – Professor, School of Computing

Profile overview

Name Professor Hazel Hall
Qualifications BA MA PhD
Role title Professor, School of Computing
Organisation Edinburgh Napier University
Interview date 23rd August 2013
Interviewed by Ailish Fowler


Professor Hazel Hall
Professor Hazel Hall

What are Hazel’s qualifications?

Hazel holds three degrees: a BA (Spec Hons) in French from the University of Birmingham; an MA in Librarianship and Information Studies from the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University); and a PhD in Computing from Napier University (now Edinburgh Napier University).

What has been Hazel’s career path to date?

Hazel has spent her career in higher education with appointments at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham Polytechnic, Queen Margaret University, and Edinburgh Napier University. She is currently Professor of Social Informatics within the School of Computing, and Director of the Centre for Social Informatics within the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation. The role of professor includes research, teaching, and management, plus numerous duties external to the University such as serving on committees for research councils, acting on journal editorial boards, and examining PhDs at other universities.

As the director of a research centre, much of Hazel’s work focuses on managing research projects. Although she has taught students at all levels of higher education from first year undergraduates to doctoral candidates, most of Hazel’s current teaching responsibilities at Edinburgh Napier University relate to PhD students.

Throughout the course of her career Hazel has taken advantage of opportunities to work with industry and other external bodies. For example, in the 1990s she spent some time in California in working with companies in Silicon Valley (including Yahoo, which at the time of her visit in 1995 was 5 months old and employed just 12 people in a tiny portakabin); she completed her PhD research with KPMG; and she worked as a consultant in the City of London in a seconded post at TFPL in 2006. More recently she led the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition as a part-time seconded post between 2009 and 2012.

What is Hazel’s involvement with Connect?

Hazel has much involvement with Connect. The focus of this work is responsibility for supporting and encouraging female staff and students to participate in Connect events. This is part of her role as the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SRC) academic champion for the School of Computing. The goal of this academic champion post is to help recruit more female students to computing courses at Edinburgh Napier, and to ensure the retention of those female students already within the School.

In 2012/13 Hazel has enjoyed joining female School of Computing students at external events such as those run by the BCS Scotland Women group, and encouraging students to apply for awards. Hazel is also the person behind the initial idea for the Connect blog launched in August 2013.

What is Hazel’s experience as a woman working in computing?

The area of computing in which Hazel works is information science. Compared with other areas of computing – such as artificial intelligence or networking – in information science women are quite well represented, so she does not feel in a minority when with her subject peers. However, in general, she recognises that women are under-represented in computing, while in the UK there is a huge skills shortage of qualified IT workers. She hopes that the work that she undertakes with the SRC will encourage more women to study computing and enjoy the opportunities offered by well-paid and interesting jobs in the IT industry.

Hazel is particularly keen to emphasise that there are opportunities in computing for women who, like herself, have an arts and humanities background. There are many undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that welcome such students. Equally many successful role models can demonstrate how their earlier non-technical qualifications combine with a computing or IT degree to give them a rewarding career.

Hazel Hall with her parents graduating with her French degree from the University of Birmingham in 1986
Hazel Hall with her parents at the University of Birmingham on graduation day in 1986

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