January 8th, 2013 | Published in Google Student Blog
Introduction: Aimee, a former Anita Borg Scholarship finalist studying computer science at Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, writes about her experience attending the GLIDE One Year Anniversary Event.
To be a woman in the field of computer science is both an honor and a duty. This is how I can summarize the event I recently joined on December 8 at the Google Tokyo office. It was the first anniversary of Girls Leading in Development and Engineering (GLIDE), a group of former Anita Borg Scholars and finalists and BOLD Engineering Interns in Japan. After spending almost eight hours of having fun and brainstorming with other GLIDErs, and listening to the remarkable talk of a career stylist and a former Googler Kelly Studer, I realized that once again, I have been given so much. Not only did I tremendously enjoy that day’s activities but my knowledge on a number of important matters increased.
I began this write up by saying that being a woman in CS is both an honor and a duty. I derived this from the theme of Kelly Studer’s talk, “Becoming the Next Generation of Female Leaders in Computer Science”. It is indeed an honor to be one of the very few who have taken this path. And this honor carries with it corresponding duties of being a leader, which Kelly brilliantly elaborated in her talk. The other ideas Kelly pointed out were actually applied in the other happenings we had for that day. The team building activity, the Marshmallow Challenge, where each group had to build a tower from spaghetti sticks was for me an occasion “to know myself” and others better, specifically as regards working in a team project. The biggest challenge came when we had to let the noodle tower crowned with a marshmallow stand on its own. It was indeed a test of being able to “stay centered and creative in the face of chaos” even if what should have been an Eiffel tower of noodle sticks ended up looking more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The day culminated with the group discussions where I think Kelly’s advice to “build a community of dynamic relationships, form powerful alliances and achieve mutual goals” was employed. Each group had to brainstorm on three topics, which are GLIDE’s goals for 2013. The first topic is how to stay connected. For this to be addressed, GLIDE now has a Google+ Community page for its members. The next topic is on the technical and professional development of the members. Participation in tech talks, hackathons, programming contests and other CS related events and sharing of technical skills and useful information were suggested. Lastly, the GLIDErs resolved that there should be more girls and women walking this less traveled path, and that in order to attract more girls to computer science is for each GLIDEr to be a role model, another idea Kelly Studer mentioned in her talk.
Being a struggling mother and graduate student, my sphere of influence is now limited unlike when I was a CS teacher in high school where there was more direct opportunity to attract more girls to this field. That is why, I am thankful that I belong to GLIDE. Not only does the community support and provide beneficial activities to the members, it gives each one a chance to be a Female Leader in Computer Science even in her own little way.
Posted by Yumi Oishi, People Programs Specialist