I’m talking with a group of young ladies this week about software development. They’re part of a HowGirlsCode group, which seeks to “provide[..] computer science and engineering education designed to inspire young girls in computer and engineering sciences”. Women apparently only earn about 20% of the computer science undergraduate degrees and then often leave the field, so that only some 13% of folks in the field are women. I wish that didn’t ring true but it does. It’s rare and exciting when there’s another woman on my team. I make a point of trying to recruit women in particular, just so we can amass a core group of gals to show the world how it’s done.
The talk this week focuses on the fun in software development. I love it – tried to leave the field in my mid twenties and finally realized this is where I was meant to be. It’s provided well for me and my family and given me lots of opportunities. In what other field could I build out conference talks about Furbies (twice?!) I’ve gotten to travel, both in the US and around the world. I’ve _never_ been without an opportunity to learn something new.
When I first dreamed of doing software development, I thought I’d go into artificial intelligence. When I graduated college in the mid 90’s, AI seemed far away, something that only PhDs were thinking about. While we’re still not where I thought we’d be when I was in high school (and earlier) contemplating a career, researchers in the UK recently announced the world’s largest computer simulation of the brain. There’s software now in my phone. There’s software in my car. I bought Christmas presents this evening through a web browser hooked up through the Internet to an e-commerce infrastructure, undoubtedly hosted in a cloud infrastructure somewhere. Heck, if I cared to, there could be software in my refrigerator!
I’m really looking forward to talking with the HowGirlsCode young ladies on Thursday. Computers and software are ubiquitous as far as they’re concerned: they may not even realize how software infuses almost everything they touch. But I’m looking forward to showing them the opportunities that opens up!