As far back as I can remember, computers and technology were a part of my life. Whether it was playing Pitfall or using my Tandy 1000 to learn how to type, my family utilized technology.
Early on, I was always good at math and enjoyed science. My wonderful high school math teacher/mentor encouraged me to think about how software technology could be used to support math and science. After obtaining my degree in mechanical engineering, I looked for a job where I could leverage my analytical skills in technology. This led me to global professional services company, Accenture, and a job in technology consulting.
In retrospect, my mom’s career journey has had an uncanny effect on my career. My mom furthered her education by taking courses in information technology. She then transitioned into the payroll industry. Only now, I realize how her experiences shaped mine. One vivid memory I have is talking about cycling the backup tapes and why that was important! Little did I know that backups would be a topic that I still discuss today.
It’s been almost 20 years since entering the field, and I now have two young children. The landscape for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education has changed dramatically. Each school term, my daughter comes home with a list of after-school enrichment classes. She’s taken creative beading, theater, tennis, and art. I love that my daughter tries different things and has an open mind. This semester, “Boolean Girl,” a class focused on coding for girls, was offered. I love the title. The students act out a story, and then they use a software program to develop the same story on a computer. My 8-year-old daughter asked me what Boolean meant. I fumbled through a response about “0’s” and “1’s”–I’m sure it was super clear!
After her first class, we were discussing the session, and she said, “It’s complicated.” Thinking back to my first programming class, that’s probably what I thought.
“Mom, it took me a little to figure out how to put the pieces together to make it work, but I figured it out,” she said. I was energized that she was trying something new and felt it was challenging–yet she seemed unfazed that it wasn’t easy!
The creativity around software-development programs for children has changed the way I think about technology and how our children engage with it. I wonder how different my generation’s initial experience with coding would have been if we didn’t spend our time doing such things as coding to calculate the area under a curve in math class. Would we be having such a technology crisis with women if there were as many opportunities to make technology fun and interesting and adaptable to a women’s way of thinking?