Resources for Women in Computing & Technology
Career Paths and
Introduction to Computer Science, Computational Thinking, & Coding
Career Paths in
Computing & Technology
Computing & Technology is pervasive in almost every aspect of life: health, travel, teaching, art, food, etc. And therefore careers in computing & technology are often at a cross-section of several industries, e.g. a Security Analyst at a global bank, or a Database Administrator at a local hospital, or a programmer for a movie studio. There is no better time than now to explore OR to create opportunities in computing and technology.
Many career paths in computing can allow for remote work and this further opens up opportunities for women who will not compromise on all the roles they find fulfilling.
All career paths in computing require a problem-solving mindset (see Computational Thinking)
For the following careers, it is necessary to take fundamental courses in logic and programming e.g. Discrete Math, and Programming levels I, II, III, along with some upper-level courses including Networks, Security, Database, Data Mining, AI, Software Engineering, Algorithms, etc.
Computer Science educator
Human-Computer Interaction Specialist
Video Game Developer
and CGI Specialist
Should You Study
Let me address 4 questions I am asked most often about Computer Science.
"What is Computer Science?"
Computer Science is, in essence, the study and application of problem-solving - using computing tools like logic & coding. And women are particularly good at problem-solving and therefore can excel in multi-faceted careers in Computer Science.
"Do I have to be good in Math to be a computer scientist?"
You have to be unafraid of Math and you have to be unafraid of making mistakes.
Here is why:
Math and Computer Science both stem from the same principles of logic. Both disciplines require the application of logic. If you absolutely hate Math (and I wish this was not the case), then I suspect you will not enjoy Computer Science.
You do not have to be brilliant in Math, but if you are willing to dive in and understand the logic of Math, then you should consider Computer Science. And, if you are not afraid of making mistakes and trying different approaches, then you definitely should consider computing & technology as a career.
"What Does a Computer Scientist Do?"
Computer Science has a wide spectrum of subfields. You can choose any industry and find a job that requires problem-solving using computing tools. I chose Computer Science because I was interested in learning how the Internet worked. So, a computer scientist can be the solution-finder (using logic & computing power) in any industry.
"What characteristics should a good computer scientist have?" [slides]
Among others, here are the 5 characteristics that computer scientists usually possess: Computer scientists:
1. try to see problems like a puzzle and are willing to try out different "pieces." And they know to ask questions so that they can find & connect the pieces of the puzzle.
2. know that there can be more than one way to solve a problem, and they know to seek the most efficient & effective solution.
3. don't think of failure as something bad. They simply try a different approach with the new learning that the "failure" provided.
4. need to be good listeners and they have to find ways to work and learn from other people who have a stake in the solution.
5. break complex problems into smaller logical parts and apply patterns to find solutions. This is called “computational thinking”
Computational Thinking [slides]:
is a process that breaks a large complex problem into smaller, logical, manageable parts
involves looking for and recognizing patterns
connecting these patterns and reconnecting the smaller parts to solve the complex problem
creating a repeatable, step-by-step process to solve this problem in the future OR similar complex problems. This is called an algorithm, which is the foundation of coding).
Introduction to Coding
I enjoy teaching "Introduction to Programming" classes because, at the end of the course, students who had never written a line of code in their lives, are creating programs to print histograms of sample class grades.
Here are links to 3 of my introductory lectures from my introductory coding class [slides]:
Introduction to Programming Concepts
Algorithms & Procedural Decomposition
There are many excellent & free resources for introduction to coding. Before you start coding, you will need either download an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that will allow you to write and compile code. OR you can use an online editor that does not require any downloads.
So as not to be overwhelming, I will list 5 sources to learn coding online for free, and recommend 2 online editors so that you can work directly online.
Access to Free Coding Courses:
Online Code Editors/ Compilers
A note on online code editors: I have found that downloading an IDE is sometimes a barrier for students who are learning to code on their own. This becomes a further source of frustration, and so for that reason, I highly recommend online editors as a starting point for students who are learning to code on their own.