By Amy Bounds
Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Made With Code” is a Google-led initiative which includes a resource directory of local coding events, camps, classes and clubs for girls and women.
Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
Google software engineer Lisa Fiedler cautioned local high school girls not to avoid things that are hard.
The expectation for women is often that they should be good at something even before they’ve learned it, she said, but that robs them of the opportunity to learn how to learn.
“If you never do what’s hard, you’ll never know how good you are,” she said. “It’s not hard, you just haven’t learned it yet.”
Fiedler spoke at a recent ” Made with Code” party and advance screening of “Mary Poppins Returns” hosted by Google for about 50 Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley high school girls at Cinemark Century Boulder.
Made With Code, a Google-led initiative, includes coding projects, video profiles of girls and women using coding to do what they love and a resource directory of local events, camps, classes and clubs.
The Boulder event, organized in conjunction with Boulder’s YWCA, was one of three scheduled nationwide for Computer Science Education Week.
At the Boulder event, the students heard from Boulder City Council Member Jill Adler Grano and Google software engineers about the need for more women in STEM fields.
Grano noted that there 2.5 million jobs in STEM fields, and those jobs pay higher salaries than the average.
“Mostly boys go into these fields, so employers are eager to hire you,” she said. “We need your voices.”
Fiedler and software engineer Kelly Helmreich, who both work at Google’s Boulder office, talked about how they got into coding and computer science.
Helmreich said she had always loved math and science, but was terrified when a college professor expected her to write entry level code for an engineering class.
“I thought it was this foreign language I couldn’t do,” she said.
But, with her professor’s encouragement, she figured it out.
“I was forced into it, and then I fell in love with it,” she said. “I get to create something out of nothing. It’s a very creative field, and there’s a lot of problem solving.”
They also talked about what it’s like to work in a male dominated field.
Fiedler said she’s often the only woman on her project teams.
“I’m not going to lie to you, that gets hard,” she said. “Join, join in spades. we need you.”
Helmreich added that she constantly has to asset herself, otherwise “they can forget that you’re there.”
Still, both said, they love their jobs.
“It engages my mind,” Helmreich said. “I’m genuinely happy.”
After hearing from the speakers, students tried a Blockly-based coding activity, using visual coding to create an animated snowflake.
Dalia Monreal, a junior at Arapahoe Ridge High School, said she signed up for the coding event because she wanted to learn more.
She had never tried coding before, predicting that “it might be fun, but will be hard at first.”
Yaileen Gonzalez, a junior at Lafayette’s Centaurus High School, also never considered coding or computer science as possible future careers and wanted to hear about the options.
The speakers, she said, were “inspirational.” She especially liked hearing that Helmreich initially was scared to learn to code.
“I would be scared, too,” she said.
Centaurus senior Nikky Orbe said the event was a good opportunity to meet people who like to code, something she tried in middle school.
“It would be nice to get back into coding,” she said.