Not Just About Numbers: A Young Woman's Perspective on Computer Science Education

My future is unknown to me. In all reality, I don't know what I want to do when I go to college. When I think about possible areas of study, my top three choices are Marine Biology, Chemical Engineering, and Architecture. Although completely unrelated, these topics are what I am most passionate about pursuing a career in. My career choices were fairly recent, however. Coming from a very small high school, there were not many electives offered to expose me to different fields of study. Instead of relying on other people to provide me with opportunities, I chose to branch out, taking part in many different clubs and activities.

I first heard about ScriptEd from my best friend, who started the club at the beginning of junior year in high school, and she loved it. She constantly talked about how much she loved coding, and how much she enjoyed exploring new topics in computer science. The teachers were always happy to have new students, even if it was just for observation purposes, and they were always eager to teach me new things or answer questions that I had. Throughout my junior year, as I looked on during the class or heard my friends talk about it (I had another friend who joined later on), I became increasingly interested in the topic. Over the summer, my friends went on and on about how much they loved the computer science internships they had gotten. In addition to the many opportunities the program offered, I genuinely became interested in participating in ScriptEd, going to hackathons, and coding.

At the beginning of my senior year, I signed up for the club automatically, and anticipated coming everyday to start learning. Admittedly, the first couple of days were slow, going over the basics, but I constantly looked forward to learning all the complicated stuff. Personally, I enjoyed learning CSS because of the artistic components it contained. I was able to express my artistic side through CSS, and when I created my first website, it clearly showed how much I had learned from the teachers and from doing my own research.

I think the one thing I like best about learning to code is the different possibilities for study it provides. Aside from just "coding," or creating websites, there's Artificial Intelligence, Computer Engineering, Robotics, and Web Design, among many other topics. It shows that computer science is not just about numbers, but can include Art, writing, problem solving, and multiple ways of thinking.

Limiting computer science to just technical things would be limiting it to people who are interested solely in those topics, which is dominated by the male population. The many different branches of computer science are hidden behind the main one due to a lack of awareness and exposure -- maybe if the options were advocated more, there might be a larger interest among the many women who want to pursue a career in computer science. Due to all the technological advancements, computer science is one of the fastest growing fields in the world.

Unfortunately, women are seriously underrepresented in computer science. Only 25 percent of people who work in computer science are women, and of those, only 3 percent are of African-American descent. I am happy that I have learned the skills of computer programing because it provides me with more career options. I believe more young women, especially African-American women, should be exposed to computer science so they too can study computer science if they chose. If I decide to pursue computer science in college, I want to know that on top of having lots of different options, I would also be working with people I can relate to.

I also love problem solving, which is essential in web design if there are errors made during the creation of the HTML. There is never such a thing as knowing too much about computer science, because there are always new technologies being developed every day, and therefore always new things to learn. Although my future is still unclear, I know that there will be many people who will support me, no matter which direction I decide to take in the future.

December 9-15 is Computer Science Education Week. On December 11, ScriptEd will host an Hour of Code event at Harlem Village Academies High School in New York City. On December 14, ScriptEd's students will put their programming skills to the test in ScriptEd's December Hackathon.

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