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The support Ive gotten from Swarthmore WICS and the larger

network of women in CS is a huge part of the reason Ive decided to


keep pursuing computer science. Im from Silicon Valley, where it was
difficult to start CS because it felt like everyone who was already
coding had been doing it for years. I spent my high school days
immersed in journalism and building websites about history, where a
little more coding would have gone a long away. The CS scene
continues to feel dominated by bro-ders and everywhere - not just in
Silicon Valley lingers the idea that you have to be unusually smart to
code. But you dont. Especially with the support that WICS can offer,
any woman at Swarthmore has the potential to be a coder if she wants
to. A whole host of resources for female CS students here and in the
neighborhood exists workshops, hackathons, mentors.
The chance to be a part of providing resources to female coders(-tobe) and raising awareness for those resources impassions me. If not
talking to mentors and being exposed to my own potential at
Femmehacks this semester, I might have continued on my merry way
without considering computer science as a serious option.
Femmehacks, the all-women collegiate hackathon at PennApps,
changed the game of hackathon culture for me. Whereas my
experience at PennApps fall was intimidating because people were
extremely experienced and the workshops werent helpful,
Femmehacks provided close mentorship and useful workshops for
beginners. After hands-on workshops on Git, HTML/CSS, and
Firebase, my team and I were able to build a Chrome extension
albeit, not a fully-functional one, but a Chrome extension
nevertheless. Femmehacks also exposed me to the realm of hacking
for social good, as other teams demonstrated projects from a website
that allowed women to rate their experiences at companies, to a catfeeding app that was actually an emergency calling apps in disguise.
The ability to code is a form of wielding power. Helping support
women to code means helping women to become builders in a maledominated industry. I want to help women at Swarthmore empower
themselves to use CS in interdisciplinary solutions and be able to
envision themselves as movers and shakers in the tech world (if that is
where they want to be.) I am passionate about joining the WICS team
because a year ago today, I wouldnt have imagined that Id ever be
able to build a shell, or a Chrome extension, or communicate regularly
with a mentor in tech. It is important to me to show women who are
interested in coding that more experienced CS students arent where
they are because they are outliers or genuises. We can become them
too they started where we are and they want to support us on our
journeys.

IDEAS
Ive benefited greatly from the support of the mentorship program.
Ive enjoyed getting perspective from my mentor, my cohort leader,
and the other students in my cohort. However, I think WICS could be
even more impactful by having a Big Sib/Little Sib mentorship
program as well. This would be a one-on-one or one-to-two program
that matches a student in a CS intro class with a CS major in an
upper-level course. This would foster closer relationships between
beginning CS students and older students who have been there
before and can offer advice and perspective in navigating CS at
Swat. The younger student would benefit from the older students
insight and advice regarding classes, hackathons, and internships,
while the older student would benefit from being able to pay her
experiences forward through guiding a younger student.
I love that Kevin Webb is teaching a web-dev workshop and I think
that a lot of people would gladly attend more workshops. Workshop
topics could include guides to Git and introductions to using specific
APIs and platforms like Firebase. We also may not have to rely on
professors to teach workshops. Swatties, who would benefit from the
experience of teaching, can teach workshops as well. By attending
workshops, attendees can equip themselves with practical skills and a
basis to start working on personal coding projects. Ive talked to peers
who want to start projects, but feel too intimidated to teach
themselves new languages or platforms. They then feel pressured to
apply for coding boot camps, which can be unnecessarily expensive
(Horizons Bootcamp advertises to Swatties and charges
$14,000/student.) Through workshops and a sibling mentorship
program, WICS can provide a support network between students to
cover ground that CS classes may not necessarily cover.