As a little girl growing up in the Dominican Republic, Yerika Jimenez, currently a Ph.D. student in computing at the University of Florida, noticed she had a knack for fixing things – cell phones, TVs, radios. Everyone in her community would bring her broken items, and she would return them repaired. A few years later, when Jimenez was nine years old, her family settled in New Jersey, and her fascination with technology continued.
Krintz believes it is important in computing research to push technology forward by including people with diverse perspectives and ideas. To do that, she supports increasing underrepresented minority participation in computing. “I think it benefits both society and technology in general. Personally, it’s just so inspiring to see young people have new ideas, get excited, and want to go out and change the world.”
Tanya Amert, a computer science Ph.D. student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found herself drawn to computer science because she enjoyed figuring out how things work. At 13 years old, she was a big fan of the Neopets website and online community. Amert noticed some users had customized homepages, and her interest grew even more. Despite not knowing any HTML at the time, she learned how to look at the source code and figured out how to change the color of the scroll bar within the CSS. “I discovered that specific lines of HTML made that happen. And I thought that was mind boggling and awesome.”
Morgan Carroll, a senior studying computer science at University of Texas at Tyler, fondly remembers her grandfather buying her a HP Pavilion with Windows 98 when she was eight years old. “From then on I just loved computers. In high school, I figured out that I was good at math. So when I went off to college, I took my love of computers and math and decided to try computer science.”
Carroll focuses on general programming and enjoys figuring out how to accomplish project objectives. Last year, one of her professor’s suggested she participate in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), so she searched for one on the National Science Foundation REU opportunities webpage. She was particularly excited about a research project at the University of Alabama. The project was supported by CRA-Women’s Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program, which matches students with a faculty mentor for a summer research experience at the faculty mentor’s home institution.
The 2016 Graduate Cohort Workshop (Grad Cohort) brought together more than 30 accomplished speakers and 550 female graduate students in computing. Rita H. Wouhaybi who is a research scientist with Intel Labs’ Systems and Software Research at Intel Corporation, was one of the speakers who shared her unique perspective with the attendees.
From an early age, current Ph.D. student and 2016 Graduate Cohort Workshop (Grad Cohort) attendee Caroline Trippel had a positive image of women in computing. Her mother earned an undergraduate degree in math, a Master’s degree in computer science, and currently works as an embedded systems software engineer.
For Volcano Kyungyoon Kim, current Ph.D. student and 2016 Graduate Cohort Workshop (Grad Cohort) attendee, choosing to study computer science was an easy decision. She knew since elementary school that she would have a career in computing. Volcano comes from a computer science family – her father is a computer science professor, her mother also has a degree in computer science, and now her younger brother is currently pursuing a master’s degree in computer science. “Every single one of them is in computer science. So I never really thought of anything else. My parents think that it’s the most exciting and valuable field of study and it will lead to a great career in the future.”
While this influenced her enough to begin studying computer science in college, during her first two years she wasn’t totally convinced that it was a perfect fit for her. It wasn’t until Volcano discovered the flexibility of the field and its interdisciplinary nature that she was completely hooked. “There was a moment later on when I thought this is really perfect for me. It is not only about computer science, it is about applying it to all the other areas. If you have an interest in art, having a computer science background can boost your art skills or it can even open up a new art genre such as 3D painting in a virtual reality. Computer science is like a magic powder that you can add to other fields. ”
The 2016 Graduate Cohort Workshop (Grad Cohort) brought together more than 30 accomplished speakers and 550 female graduate students in computing. Kim Hazelwood, who leads a performance and datacenter capacity engineering and analysis team within Facebook’s infrastructure division, was one of the speakers who shared her unique perspective with the attendees. Kim has always had an interest in technology and a love for math. Like many undergraduate students, Kim didn’t take any computer science classes in high school. However, she took a leap and declared computer engineering as her major heading into her undergraduate degree at Clemson University. “First time was a charm on actually picking the right area for me,” she explained.
An early love of science fiction is what initially lured Drew to a career in STEM. Her fascination with outer space and the future, recurrent themes in science fiction, inspired her to study astronomy and become a physics major. Although she didn’t take any high school computer science courses, she always enjoyed tinkering with computer programs on her own. She decided in college to take a coding class and “really loved it.” Drew soon changed her major to computer science because she wanted to be part of the movement that brings to life the technologies we dream about in science fiction.
Bushra Anjum is a self-described “adventure seeker” in addition to her day job in computing.
“I’m into extreme sports–I like jumping out of planes or off of cliffs. I am an adventure seeker, at the bottom of my heart. So anything that sounds like an adventure to me –I will jump at that.”
When Anjum is not jumping out of a plane or off a cliff, she works as a software and research engineer at Amazon, Inc. in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Specifically, Anjum has expertise in agile software development for large-scale distributed systems, with a special emphasis on system design and development for highly scalable, fault-tolerant systems. At CRA-W’s 2016 Graduate Cohort Workshop (Grad Cohort), I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Anjum, who described why she has a passion for CRA-W and increasing diversity in computing.
Again and again we hear that earning computing degrees leads to one of the highest starting salaries for college graduates and almost a guaranteed job after graduation. This information is supported by data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers who report computer science graduates have the second highest starting salary ($61,321 this year) and the highest full-time employment rate (76% within six months of graduation). A blog post from the Computing Community Consortium in March highlights 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics job projection results, which found that computing occupations are projected to account for 73% of all newly-created STEM jobs during the decade (488,500 jobs), and 55% of all available STEM jobs, whether newly-created or available due to retirements (1,083,800 jobs over the decade). All of this isn’t new information. Many people are aware that the booming tech industry can be a ticket to job security and comfortable living. Data from the National Science Foundation in 2014, shows that there are approximately 17.8% of women studying computer science at the undergraduate level. So why is it every CS classroom I am in is filled with bright-eyed, eager young men, but a dismal number