On Thursday, May 9th, Hathaway Brown School hosted the Ohio premiere of She++ The Documentary, and computer teacher James Allen emceed a panel discussion on women in computer science.
The documentary, directed by Stanford University computer science students Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni, is one tool being utilized by a new organization of the same name to encourage young women to seek education and careers in computer science. While women make up 52% of math and science degrees, they only make up 18% of computer science graduates; the she++ organization seeks to change this by providing role models in the field of computer science.
|Judy Auping, Sue Kenney, Liz Novak & Melissa Heffelfinger|
The lively discussion focused on what can be done to encourage women to find an interest in computer science and then stay in the field. The panelists shared their own stories of getting into CS, and how they each became comfortable and successful in male dominated classes and workplaces. A recurring theme in the conversation was the need for confidence in the face of cocky or overachieving male peers, and strong belief in one's own ability to catch up to those who have been coding since childhood. Both recent HB grads pointed to their preparatory foundation from Hathaway Brown as a source of such confidence.
|James Allen, CS teacher at HB|
The need for women in the field was stressed repeatedly, as male audience members shared difficulty finding female candidates for open job opportunities These audience members also shared relief at working with female engineers who were often better at communicating and seeing "bigger picture" problems than their male peers.
The discussion also touched on the family-friendly nature of flexible scheduling in many computer-related fields, and dismissed the idea that time away from the field spent with children would disqualify women from returning to it later--especially in a field growing faster rate than graduates are entering the workforce.
|More info at sheplusplus.stanford.edu|