By Kelly McNeil
Recently, I talked to my high school Computer Science students about the ENIAC, an enormous computer from the 1940s designed to solve computations for artillery firing tables in the war. I asked them to close their eyes and imagine in their heads the time period, the dress, etc., and then asked them to raise their hands and describe for me what they thought programmers of this old, giant, complicated machine looked like.
Their answers: “A big, buff, Russian military guy.”
“A small, strange German scientist ‘like the guy from Marvel movies’.”
“A bald, intellectual-looking man with a lab coat and glasses.”
Finally, a girl in my class raised her hand and said, “Weren’t they women?”
I replied, “Hmmm.” and showed them this video clip.
This January, we will launch “Girls Who Code” at ASA, and I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of slowly changing this generation and future generations’ perceptions about women, technology, and computing.
As additional inspiration, the Girls Who Code organization shared this movie trailer (for the upcoming “Hidden Figures” movie about the early days of the NASA space program) recently in my social media. It gave me goosebumps and it’s another inspiring story about women in science.
We are working hard at All Saints Academy to increase awareness of the gender gap in STEM fields, and to encourage our young girls and women that they can be anything and do anything they want.