Women in Computer Science: Conference opens doors, brings opportunity

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On Sunday, Oct. 17, people from all around the community came to Pacific University to learn more about the opportunities through the field of computer science.

Hosted by the Women in Computer Science club on campus, this gave students, faculty and community members alike a unique opportunity to speak with local companies regarding the different aspects of the world of code.

When attendees first arrived, they played an icebreaker game where they were asked to build a free standing tower using 26 spaghetti, masking tape and a yard of string with a marshmallow on the top of the structure.

Half of the groups managed to create a free standing structure, but it was the creativity involved and the unique ways that each of the groups went about the same task that was the main focus of the project.

According to senior Alexandrea Beh, there is a stereotype surrounding the computer science field and one of the goals of this conference was to show people the many ways in which

computer science is applicable to a wide variety of fields.

Present at the conference were companies that incorporated computer science in a range of ways and for people to be able to speak with them and see that “[computer science] is definitely very creative to keep on changing and talking to different companies helps someone to see how wide-reaching it is. It is very cross-disciplinary,” said Beh.

Even though Women in Computer Science club was the host, the event wasn’t targeted at women specifically, the goal was to reach as many people as possible.

“We didn’t want to say this was only for women,” said junior Nicole Lewey. “But we wanted to show that there was equal ability and representation.”

Many of the people who attended the conference were alumni from Pacific.

There were also students from the local high schools and the local community colleges and the entire computer science faculty were there.

In order to even have this conference happen, Beh and another student in the Women in Computer

Science club had to write a proposal for a grant from the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWT) who are large advocates for more women in technology.

“[NCWT] is something that really represented the mission of the club which is outreach, education, advocacy for equal opportunities in a field that is really skewed right now,” said Beh.

Although the conference was highly successful with close to 60 people in attendance, Lewey is hopeful that it will inspire more students to be able to see a career in computer science as a more attainable reality.

Not only is computer science within reach, but it is something that is becoming something that is used in more and more varied manners.

People who have a background or a degree in computer science can find themselves working in media related areas as web designers and people who are working in science can find themselves working with programs to compute data that machines are collecting on the human body.

An example of this would be sequencing the human genome.

Not only is computer science an area that will open a wide variety of doors, but if one just tries it, computer sciencewillpresent“achallengethatis very exciting and frustrating but very rewarding,” said Beh.


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