Grant allows senior to share her love of science
Women are decoding the digital age.
Senior Myra Gupta, one of Mason High School’s four recipients of the Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT), has received a grant to spread her love of computer science at Mason Middle School.
“It’s meant to raise awareness for women in computer science and to get young girls interested,” Gupta said. “I got a couple thousand dollars for grant money…to get girls interested…and to teach them the basics.”
Computer programming teacher Gregg Kummer said this early exposure to computer science will benefit the girls.
“I think the sooner they look into it, the better,” Kummer said. “We have a lot of talent here. I always tell the kids that talent will find its own level…the question is when. The sooner we get kids involved, the sooner they’ll realize what kind of talent they have.”
Women make up only 18 percent of the field of computer science, according to Kummer, but Gupta said she hopes her program, Girls Code, will keep the girls from being discouraged by the gender imbalance.
“I hope that they’re more comfortable experiencing computer science or getting involved with the field just because it’s so male-dominated that a lot of girls get intimidated,” Gupta said. “They don’t really feel like they’ll fit in with the rest of the group, so I hope that they all form relationships with other girls that are interested…so that they can keep learning.”
Girls Code participant, seventh grader Andrea Hefferan, said Gupta’s program is boosting her confidence as a girl in computer science.
“It shows that boys don’t have to do everything,” Hefferan said. “We can do just the same things that they can do…they’re not better. We’re equal, we can both do the computer, it’s not just for one gender only.”
Miami University is helping with the program’s logistics, said Gupta, and both she and the university are interested in making it annual. If the program continues, Hefferan said girls should be open to joining.
“Girls should know that just because a lot of boys do it, it doesn’t mean that they can’t do it,” Hefferan said. “If they tried, they may get interested in the program and learn…how to code, and someday it might lead to a job in coding…it could start right here.”