FVGCC’s First Web Chat – Fiona Baenziger and Lily Fisher – DePaul University Computer Science Majors

Fox Valley Girls Coding Club was so excited to hold their first web chat in November 2016.  With the newly introduced web chats and guest speakers, FVGCC is looking forward to reinforcing topic areas that we will be tackling in our monthly meetings as well as introducing club members to areas within the computing industry that may be of interest to them after high school.

In our first web chat, we spoke with Fiona and Lily, Computer Science majors at DePaul University.  Here is some of what they shared with us:

On their computer-related background prior to College:

Lily: In High School, Lily took AP Computer Science and was on the Robotics Team. She also learned Python while in high school.

Fiona: Fiona’s Dad is a professional Software Developer. Fiona learned Scratch at age 12. She started out in a different major at DePaul, but came back to Computer Science

Advice/Shared Experiences with our club members:

  • Women going into Computer Science need to stay focused, have a plan, and execute.
  • Start networking now!  Go to events.  Meet other girls/women involved at all levels of Computer Science.
  • Computer Science is like a puzzle. Don’t be afraid to try and fail.  You can only find success and what types of projects you like by continuing to try.
  • Lily started the DePaul chapter of the ACM-W (Association of Computing Machinery for Women – women.acm.org !  Great example that if the community you are looking for does not exist at your high school or college – be brave and create it yourself.
  • The gender gap in technology is real.  Lily and Fiona want to change the perception that software developers are just nerds with a computer and we at FVGCC can each help with that too.  Don’t be afraid to let others know that you are a girl who likes Computer Science!
  • They both like working with and encouraging younger girls to use Computer Science for things they enjoy; for example, animal advocacy.  Successes come when you can use what you learn in coding to create something you are passionate about.
  • Go out of your comfort zone!  As the CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, says – “Teach girls bravery, not perfection.”
  • “Volunteering for Girls Who Code changed my life.” – Fiona.  This volunteering opportunity gave me a deeper understanding of how impacting other girls and serving as a role model, helped me to develop a stronger commitment and connection to what I am studying.
  • Take on challenges like the Technovation Challenge
  • Apply for the NCWIT Aspirations Awards

Thanks to Fiona and Lily for being such great inspirations to FVGCC.  We look forward to continuing to see more of our girls following in their footsteps and entering Computer Science in college!

Meet Julie Pak, CEO of RazorX2

FVGCC wants to thank Julie Pak for an amazing web chat on Friday, February 24.  Ms. Pak shared her experiences in business and computer science that led to her starting her own company, RazorX2, while still in her 20’s.  Here are some of the highlights of her background and our web chat discussion.  Ms. Pak received a Business degree from  University of Illinois and a Masters degree in Computer Science from University of Chicago. Ms. Pak’s career has spanned investment banking, working for the Department of Defense, and now running her own successful business that finds effective and efficient solutions for federal government projects.

While speaking with FVGCC, Ms. Pak shared activities that would be great for girls looking to explore computer science:

  • Hack-a-thons:  Participate in one!  You can be a novice or a seasoned programmer – just join in.
  • Internships – look for paid or unpaid opportunities in a career that appeals to you.
  • Start a blog or a website.  Just find something that interests you and start a project now!
  • Get an account on GitHub and start creating.
  • Use free online resources to always be learning:  Code Academy, Code.org, etc.
  • Find a programming language that speaks to you and learn that one first.
  • Read!  Some potential books to start with:  The Confidence Code by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett, or Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Ms. Pak also shared great advice on supporting other girls who have similar interests in technology.  She reminded our FVGCC girls that it is great to look ahead at your future and to look up for your mentors, but to also remember to look back to help other girls who are looking to you as an example.  During the web chat, she also let the girls know that it is important to know that you have earned the opportunities you get and your “seat at the table”.  Don’t discount your abilities even if you are the only girl at the table.  Her final message was to support each other.  This is a sisterhood.  So, learn all you can, support others, create what interests you and solves a problem, and BE KIND!

Thanks Ms. Pak for your great insight and inspiration!

www.razorx2.com

Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton Win Presidential Medal of Freedom!

 

Two amazing, accomplished women who are true pioneers in Computer Science have been announced as winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom! The awards will be presented on November 22, 2016. We all owe so much to these brilliant role models. Congratulations to Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton!

Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

Margaret Hamilton (1936-  )

https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/17/grace-hopper-and-margaret-hamilton-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom-for-computing-advances/

Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8th is International Women’s Day and a great time to reflect on Women’s participation in Technology. There is a lot more that needs to be done to narrow the gender gap in technology fields and we are so happy that our Fox Valley Girls Coding Club is one organization that is working towards that goal.

If you are an organization looking for ideas to promote International Women’s Day there are lots of great ideas  available “in a box” that can be downloaded from: NCWIT. Along with event ideas,  there are links to other resources, articles, statistics, and award nominations. The celebration of International Women’s Day isn’t just limited to March 8th; any day this week would be a great day to promote it!

Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

Grace Hopper
Pioneer in Computing
  • Visionary:  one of the first people to program a computer; noted for her perseverance
  • Notable thought: “We’ve always done it that way” is not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so
  • Developed the first compiler despite being told that computers couldn’t be made to understand English; this allowed people to create commands using English instead of the raw numbers (machine language) that computers understand
  • Rear Admiral in the US Navy: Has a guided missile destroyer named after her – The USS Hopper
  • Credited with the term “debugging” after discovering a moth in the machine
  • Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is an annual conference since 1994.  In October 2015, more than 10,000 women in technology participated!

References: The above information came from http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/Files/hopper-story.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper (including the photo)