This fall, thanks to some inspiration from a few of my fellow developers, I finally finished up an MVP version of the Chrome Extension I started early this summer. It’s my first Extension, is very simple in nature, but accomplishes a goal that’s very important to me as a developer: make use of simple visual cues to indicate to me which Google AppEngine application dashboard I’m viewing at any given time. In other words, have Chrome alert me as to whether I’m dealing with dev, test, demo, or prod data (prod being the most sensitive by virtue of it being live customer data).
When I was asked to speak at a recent Girl Geek Dinner here in Saskatoon, I immediately said yes. I love public speaking. The trouble was I had no idea what I was going to talk about. Knowing that the audience would come from diverse backgrounds, I didn’t want to discuss a highly technical software topic that would be applicable only to a handful of the attendees. At our previous dinner, we had watched Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk about why there aren’t more female leaders, which seemed to be well-received. But I wanted to discuss something more personal.
In preparation for a talk I’m giving at the next local Girl Geek Dinner, I had several of my friends fill out a questionnaire regarding their perceptions of computer science and software development. I asked them about their educational backgrounds, their current professions, what they believe a software developer does on a day-to-day basis, how they’d feel if they were software developers, and so on. The responses have all been really interesting (and sometimes surprising) to me. I found myself on the edge of my seat each time a new set of responses rolled in.
Something will immediately stand out to you about this talk: it was originally presented at last year’s BarCamp Saskatoon event. A lot has changed since then. The development team that was originally two has become three (with two thirds of us residing in Saskatoon). My own dedication to Diablo III has waned (much to the displeasure of my teammate). And, our latest team-building endeavours involve fewer Skype coffee sessions and more video games: next week we’re embarking on a new adventure within the world of Civ V (an update regarding this new endeavour will surely follow).
Stereotypes of computer scientists abound. There are few professions that elicit such a clear (if not accurate) vision of personal disposition, manner of dress, work habits, and dietary eccentricities than ‘software developer’.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy at work integrating one of our products with Google+. While I love this kind of task, the experience was somewhat marred by the fact that Google+ API documentation is a bit disorganized. While each piece of information you need is indeed available, one feels as though they’re walking a bit of a rat maze in order to find it (and, god forbid you lose your place and need to find it again). It’s no secret that good API documentation is hard to come by, so rather than dwell on it, I made use of what I thought was a fairly nifty tool to get me through my work.
Misconceptions about computer scientists are rampant and numerous. Here are just a few. Computer scientists are all dudes. Computer scientists are all nerds. Computer scientists are all socially inept. Computer scientists are all great at math. Computer scientists only drink energy drinks. Computer scientists do nothing but write code. Granted, stereotypes have to start somewhere, …
I almost always listen to CBC Radio One when I’m in the car. So it’s no surprise that I was doing so this Wednesday on my way to a doctor’s appointment. It was rather a long drive, which gave me a fair bit of time to listen in on an episode of Spark featuring an interview with UCLA’s Jane Margolis, author of Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. Ms. Margolis studies gender and race inequality in computer science, a background-interest of my own.
One of the most commonly cited reasons to encourage women to join forces with the nearly-all-male nerd-army known as ‘computer science’ is ‘diversity’. This always struck me as buzz. But, as many are quick to clarify, rather than diversity for diversity’s sake, what’s being encouraged is broadening the potential work force to include the other …