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.
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 …
I’ve had men tell me to my face that given the choice between equally-qualified male and female candidates for a job, they would always choose the male candidate. The reason? Predictably, that the woman is more likely to take maternity leave and to be the primary caregiver for her children than the man.
Sarah Silverman and Amy Pohler take on the topic of women not being funny, then Jon Cryer has to go and crash the party.
As a computer scientist, I find it hard to imagine how anyone couldn’t like it. It’s creative, intellectually stimulating, and lucrative. When done correctly, I’d even go so far as to say it is artistic.