Part 2: “The Girl in the Computer Science Class”
Perhaps I was more prepared than other females going in to a male dominated college undergraduate program.
In high school, I went through some issues and ended up spending a lot of time by myself, isolating myself by choice and using the computer. I realized that I was interested in how things worked rather than just accepting that it “just worked.” I went from learning how to make images in Photoshop 3.0 to teaching myself HTML and I still remember the day when it all “just clicked” for me. From there I went to installing cgi scripts so I could have my own forum software on my website, to editing the script myself to change things I wanted to change, to becoming a developer on someone else’s forum software, to finally writing my own programs to answer problems I wanted to solve.
I feel that young girls are conditioned that crying is an acceptable way of venting frustration. Perhaps at a young age that is okay. But then they too need to be told to grow up and get a back bone, just as boys are told by their fathers. Not everyone out there is going to cuddle you at the drop of a tear. Nor should they.
I fit the stereotypical computer geek. I was sensitive, isolated by choice, geeky, fascinated by questions and answers, and I hung out with those equal to my personality which usually met the other outcasts in High School. I grew up having almost no female friends and all very “inappropriate” male friends who laughed at fart, racist, and womanizing jokes.
I think I considered myself well prepared for college.
When I got to college, I think my Freshman class started with a few dozen or so females. When I graduated I could probably count the number of girls on two hands. Why was it that girls weren’t flocking to the field? Was it the stigma of being a “nerd” or that science wasn’t “girly?” Well that might explain why girls didn’t join, but why didn’t they stay in Computer Science?
Some people say that these girls didn’t “fit in” with the guys, or there was too much math… etc, etc. Why is computer science a man’s field anyway? Is it because it has “science” in the name? Does that automatically deter women from going into it?