(originally published 5/27/16 on thecspn.com)
Some teenagers worry about cliques, but nine talented programmers prefer to think about clicks–and it’s paid off.
Sydney Braine, Ria Datla, Rachel Hunter-Rinderle, Nidhi Iyanna, Sydnie Kong, Rhadika Upadhye, Jenny Wan, Emily Wang and Shirley Yang were all recognized for their skills in the computer science field by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). They were given the Aspirations in Computing award by the group’s Ohio chapter.
Yang said her reasons for starting programming weren’t as deep and profound as most would assume.
“When I came to high school, it was just one of those courses a lot of my friends took,” Yang said. “I started by taking Computer Programming One freshman year with a lot of my friends, but as I went along, my interest started to grow.”
Since then, Yang has taken a variety of the subsequent classes, only increasing her skills as a programmer. However, though there are many girls interested in this field in Mason, according to a survey taken by Stack Overflow, 92% of the people in this field are males. Women are the minority, which is a fairly large reason behind why the NCWIT wants to recognize and encourage women in this field.
Being one of the only women in a male-dominated field can be very intimidating, but Yang said it doesn’t scare her away.
“Yeah, I definitely want to do stuff with computer science in the future,” Yang said. “I’ve been debating majoring in it, and even if I don’t, I definitely want to stay in the technology field, just because there are so many opportunities.”
And with awards like this, it’s very clear that she, and all the other students recognized, have great potential to be very influential in the future.
According to the NCWIT website, the driving focus behind these awards is to encourage girls who are interested in the technological field to pursue their aspirations. Other students, such as Braine, have also been positively affected by the award, seeing as it has showed them that they can do things like this, even if there is a stigma around it.
Braine said after winning the award, it gave her a much more optimistic look on the opportunities she could have.
“I was already planning on pursuing a career in computer science,” Braine said. “Winning the award was powerful because it gave me access to a community of already professionally successful women who could give me advice. At the same time, it connected me to like-minded peers whose ambitions are similar to mine.”