According to the National Science Foundation, computer science is the only STEM field in which the number of women receiving bachelor’s degrees has decreased since 2002 — with women earning just 18% of undergraduate degrees in computer science.
In order to curb this tide, the Computer Science Society, a student club on campus, is bolstering its support to women in computer science. CSS executive board members Emily Le and Wynne Tran host a weekly gathering named Girl’s Night of Code. The night consists of sharing stories, experiences, and computer science-related topics that are interesting and relevant to women in this field.
“Most importantly, we want to create a motivational and comfortable environment for our female computer scientists,” says co-founder Emily Le.
“CSS does a great job involving students in numerous computer science-related activities,” says Robert Kerbs, computer science chair. “Girl’s Night of Code is proof of that. It helps women learn more about computer science opportunities for them in a relaxed and low-stress environment.”
The first meeting was held on October 13th, 2015. The importance of this date coincided with the national Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Week, and took place on Ada Lovelace Day. These women are considered pioneers in the computer science field, and their work has contributed greatly to technology that is used to this day.
A typical meeting is quite simple. A short motivational or informational video relating to a computer science topic usually starts off the program. Afterwards, attendees will break off and discuss the topic. The final part of the meeting consists of either study sessions, computer science tutorials, or presentations by an upperclassmen on their accomplishments and experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field.
The goal of Girl’s Night of Code is to create an environment that encourages women to join, persist, and thrive within computer science.