Google is committed to encouraging underrepresented students to seek degrees in computer science. What ideas do you have for ways in which you can help increase diversity in the field of computer science?
As a female growing up in an all-girls environment in Silicon Valley, I’ve never been told “you can’t do that” because I am a girl. In middle school computer science, I learned that this was not always the case and women are still in the minority in CS, even in my own backyard. Thankfully, my all-girls schools have allowed me to pursue leadership roles like Programming and Electronics Lead in computer science and engineering that I probably would not have gotten on a coed First Robotics Competition (FRC) team.
When I do encounter sexism at coed FRC events, I am only more determined to become a woman in STEM. In sophomore year I was working on our robot when a male mentor from another team came over and started asking questions about our robot. After a few questions, he asked, “So you don’t need any guys around to make it work?” “No!” I exclaimed, outraged. “Of course not!” Another time, an announcer thought a team was all-girls simply because their team captain was female. These stereotypes that women can’t be successful in STEM or that women don’t hold leadership positions in STEM fields just encourage me to prove them wrong.
These stereotypes need to change for women to achieve parity in both engineering and computer science, and I believe the best way to do so is to get more girls interested in STEM activities earlier. My first experience with the subject was competing in the First Lego League (FLL), and I didn’t have to know what programming or engineering was to enjoy it. All I knew was that I was creating a robot that completed tasks. The satisfaction of seeing what I built succeed encouraged me to pursue more. I want every girl to be excited about creating things, so I volunteer at the Science Saturdays my robotics team holds for underprivileged fifth- and sixth-graders; I helped start my school’s middle school FLL teams; I help teach middle school girls Scratch and Python; and I make sure every student on Robotics feels included in making the final product.
At the same time, I have been encouraged at every moment by my robotics team mentors, teachers, parents, and older robotics team members. These strong, relatable, smart, and funny role models are the people I aspire to be. I might have given up if not for the adults in my life that pushed me to be my best, take the hardest classes, and always told me I could do anything I wanted.
From my own personal experience, I’ve found that a fascination with the world around you, a love of creating things, and plenty of people to look up to for guidance and support are crucial to a girl’s interest in STEM fields. The more we nurture this love of learning and support girls through every phase in their lives, the more women we will have in STEM and CS, and finally, I will not be in the minority.
[Ask me to talk about women in CS, and I will.]