Developer Community / Education

Computer Engineer Barbie Cares and so does Microsoft

A little over a week ago, I headed over the hill with Marian and Sukhie to attend an event to inspire girls to engage with science and technology, hosted by Microsoft DigiGirls and Barbie.

The event consisted of girl scouts, female computer science students, Microsoft representatives, female political figures, and reps from Mattel. Also, there were a lot of Computer Engineer Barbies there too.

If you didn’t already know, Barbie takes on 2.5 new careers every year, and this year, Computer Engineering made the cut. If you look her, Barbie sits in her cubicle with stylish pink glasses (a lot like mine), a bluetooth earpiece, a laptop displaying binary numbers, and an ipod. From her cube, I would gather that she likes to eat Chinese food, enjoys looking at pictures of Ken, and owns stuffed animals of the Linux variety.

The facts and figures given are always noteworthy:

  • 8% of high schools in this country teach computer science, which also holds to be the case in the bay area/silicon valley
  • Only 9 states in the US count computer science as a rigorous science at the high school level
  • In 1985, 35% of people in the computer industry were women, which dropped to 18% in 2008

What I found to be most thought provoking were the stories of the women who sat in the panel. They reminded me of my own story, which warrants it’s own blogpost someday.

Like the women in the panel, I also remember the few times that someone told me I was smart and could really do this. Professor Zopetti from my data structures class once said that I was “smarter than the average bear.” Haha, and Dr. Lloyd my algorithms professor was so encouraging, even though I’d have such round about ways with problem solving. Professor Bohacek, my undergrad research adviser, made huge impacts on my life. Finally, there was Dr. Maria Palacas, who’d invested the most into my career than any other mentor I’d ever had.

As far as women in technology, well, I wrote about this once in regards to Microsoft’s Halo and circular saws.

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