It all started when someone sent me a link for the chance of travelling to the States for free :). The occasion is to attend the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, in Minneapolis.
When I excitedly started filling the form, I found that there is one requirement to write an essay about “Women in Computer Science”. I started Googling for references, and came across this cool video.
Right now I’m still struggling with writing the essay *in the midst of piled-up deadlines*, but somehow I feel so motivated in writing on this topic. Well, after days ‘writing’ in Python, creative writing in ‘natural language’ seems like an enjoyable getaway :p. Isn’t it ironic, that my field is called natural language processing, but I spent most of my time ‘writing’ in unnatural programming language.
Back to the topic.. well, I still cannot say much *I will update this post with the essay I can come up with*, but it seems that one of the reasons there are not so many women pursuing study in computer science is because there is so few role model known in this field. In that case, Women&Tech might be interesting to read.
I promised to update this post with the essay, didn’t I? 😉 Here you go…
“The girls majoring in informatics? Heh, no thanks, all of their faces look like brain.” That was an overheard statement from a (perhaps intimidated) male student, that once became a hot topic while I was still in undergraduate study, and made all girls in my major, informatics, threw a fit. Although that statement could be considered a cryptic compliment, that we are smart, but I believe we girls want to look attractive, and literally looking like brain is not appealing at all.
At that time, information technology (IT) was the buzzword, just like ‘big data’ nowadays. Majoring in IT for undergraduate study became a trend, knowing that there will be many opening in the companies for IT specialists. As a result, the passing grade for this major in the university I was studying in was the highest of all, inferring that only smart students, especially in Math, can get into it.
However, gender is still playing a role in deciding the suitable major for students, due to the perception that men are more logical than women, and computer science is all about logic. There are indeed differences in male and female brains, that perhaps result in different ways of thinking. But that doesn’t mean that women are not suitable for computer science, because in my opinion logic and reasoning are not the only requirements, creativity and intuition are also needed in solving a problem.
The media is also not helping by portraying computer scientists and engineers as “computer geeky” people, with thick glasses, nerdy attitude, social skill problem (and sometimes hygiene problem) due to excessive interactions with computers. While men most probably are not bothered by this kind of image, it makes most women more reluctant to explore computer science and technology field, to avoid being labeled as geeks.
I have to admit, that once I start a programming task, I could lose track of time, forgetting sleeping or eating, not to mention socializing. But that’s only because most of the times I find programming a fun (and addictive) activity. People, especially women since this is all about women, should be given a chance to discover that there is such fun activity in computer science, breaking public assumptions that programmers don’t have fun.
Moreover, for people who like to learn new languages, computer science gives the opportunities for us to learn a lot of programming languages. We don’t have to be ‘fluent’ in every language to be able to write a program, as long as we understand the algorithm behind. I still remember that in my undergraduate study we learn algorithms through a game, where each level contains a problem that we have to solve with algorithms.
So, one of the solution to this problem is to promote and share that computer science is fun, and women can still look attractive with glasses. Nowadays, almost everyone is using internet, especially social media such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Social media is the cheapest (if not free) way of publication and advertisement. It can also be used to advertise the opportunities for women in computer science field, academically or professionally, and to publicize names of women that can be considered as successful case in the field, as role models.
Turned out it’s not so convincing because I didn’t get the grant :p. Well, it’s okay, I will go to the States anyway… though it won’t be for academic or work-related reason, ehem *pssst, will visit the (intern) bear there :D*.
So, women domination in computer science.. Why not? 😉