Filed under Choices

I Could Never Do What You Do: Well-educated ladies’ perceptions of computer science

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. Continue reading


Questionnaire: Perceptions of computer science and software development

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. Continue reading

IAmA Female Computer Scientist; AMA

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, … Continue reading

Female-centric requirements gathering not just woman’s work

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. Continue reading

So, diversity really does matter?

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 … Continue reading

Creation of computer games an effective teaching tool for girls and boys, alike

Last November, researchers at the University of Alberta published an interesting finding in the ongoing mission to reveal what on earth might bring girls to be more excited about computing science. Through a joint effort between the Computing Science and Education departments, Mike Carbonaro, Duane Szafron, Maria Cutumisu and Jonathan Schaeffer discovered a gender-neutral activity … Continue reading

Hear that? It’s the sound of something awesome.

As a woman in computer science, I’m often asked about the challenges I’ve faced in becoming part of a male-dominated field. I have to be honest and say, I haven’t faced a lot of challenges solely as a result of my gender. I think people are disappointed by this response. They want to hear inspirational anecdotes about how I overcame adversity. They want me to be some kind of pioneer. But I’m not. Continue reading