Bowdoin College group aims to pump women into computer science jobs

Bowdoin Women in Computer Science members at the Grace Hopper Conference in 2019. Nicole Nigro photo

A Bowdoin College group is working to pump more women into computer science, a field in which they’ve long been underrepresented.

Bowdoin Women in Computer Science is an afterschool program that provides support for women interested in computer science careers and helps them establish a career in the field. The club currently has 69 members representing the classes of 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

According to Berkeley College, women made up about 36% of computer and information science bachelor’s degree recipients in 1986. Since then, the number has declined to just 21% in 2019.

Locally, computer science graduates represented 5.3% of the total Bowdoin College graduates, but just 29% of those were women.

“I think that in having a group, we are able to form a community so more women feel like they have peers that they can turn to,” said co-leader and Bowdoin College student Nicole Nigro. “This way they can feel supported in the major and feel empowered to pursue careers after college whether that is through working on homework or networking with alums. It is important that we open up these opportunities so that women are set up to succeed in computer science. ”

Abby Mueller, another student and group co-leader, echoed Nigro’s sentiments about creating room for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“We also just want to create a comfortable space in STEM fields, specifically computer science, for women,” she said. . ”

Despite women making up 48% of the US workforce, they accounted for only 27% of STEM workers in 2019.

A big part of our club is sending Bowdoin students to Grace Hopper Conference, which is a conference for women in computing, and it is where a lot of people get hired for internships and post-graduate positions, ”Nigro said. lot of prep work to help each other with resumes or to prepare for technical interviews. ”

Bowdoin College alum Yujin Moon works as a research assistant at Harvard Medical School.

“As a research assistant, I usually get paired with postdoctoral researchers to work with on their projects. However, in my lab, all the postdocs are white men, ”she said.

“Before joining the lab, I looked through the lab website and that was kind of concerning to me. As a woman of color working in the STEM field, I still want some kind of support and people who I can talk to without any barriers. I do not have to worry about my race or gender too much but that was just my main concern when I joined the lab. ”

A study by KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, found that 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers.

Imposter syndrome describes high achieving individuals who, despite their successes, fail to internalize their achievements and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or imposter, according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“I think imposter syndrome is really common for both women in STEM and a lot of different industries where you may not feel super confident in your skills,” Mueller said. “So, I do think trying to instill a sense of confidence in yourself whether it is finding others to connect with or through learning is really important because women are just as capable as men in STEM. ”

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