Tag Archives: Women in computing

the-graduate

On Becoming a Bachelor

September 2012.

I’d been made redundant several months previously and was at a bit of a crossroads as to what I wanted to do with myself.  Him Indoors had recently graduated with a BEng with a view to starting a second career as a web developer and Mini Binnie was doing well as an infant at primary school.  My husband suggested I get myself back to university after dropping out of my journalism course several years previously, but this time I should choose a subject for myself, something I knew I would enjoy as opposed to being ‘encouraged’ into journalism previously.  So I took at look at a prospectus, chose a course and applied.

October 2016 and I’m standing outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, having graduated with a BEng (Distinction) in Computer Systems and Networks from Edinburgh Napier University.  Hurray!

graduation

Silly hood wouldn’t stay down, but I don’t care; lookit the shiny!

I’m still on a high from the graduation ceremony.  What a wonderful feeling it was to be the centre of attention (well, myself and several hundred other graduates) and I couldn’t help but beam as I walked across the stage to shake the Chancellor’s hand and collect my certificate.  Regular readers will know that I faced a huge dilemma upon returning to university after my year at Microsoft and eventually decided to leave university after obtaining my Bachelors instead of progressing to Honours.  Sometimes I still wonder if I did the right thing, but know that ultimately it was a good decision – my heart just wasn’t in it and I wasn’t enjoying my fourth year after having such a great time during my internship.  I now have a good job with prospects and work with great people, but know that I can always return to my studies on a part time basis (an MEng does sound rather tempting).

My journey has been a little more difficult compared to the average student.  Having a young family meant I had to manage my time better than my younger, more carefree peers and didn’t socialise as often as I would have liked to, however I felt that as a mature student I had a better attitude towards my studies and was able to organise myself a lot better than I did first time round.  I did sometimes feel like a bit of a mother figure, especially in first year, however I soon found that I wasn’t the only mature student and meeting people in a similar situation made things far less daunting.

Being one of a handful of women in the School of Computing could have been a daunting prospect, but again I think being that little bit older helped.  It did get a little lonely at times, however I immersed myself in all things Connect and it was so wonderful to have a network just for women STEM students.  The various events that were held really opened my eyes to the opportunities available and how being a woman in tech doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.  I met some wonderful, inspiring women through my involvement with Connect (and Interconnect) and have made some fantastic friends.  I’m still very much in the minority at work, however the guys in my team are great and although I’m kinda loath to say this I do feel like ‘one of the lads’ (if there’s a better phrase, do let me know).

So here I am, the first person in my family to obtain a degree.  I’m at the end of a major academic journey and am very proud of what I’ve achieved.  However, I’m still mulling over the idea of doing a Masters as I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning and hope that I’ve managed to inspire some women along the way.

What does the future hold for this humble lass from a typical working class family? Watch this space.  Onwards and upwards…

Interconnect Student Champion

 

Interconnect

 

Recently I applied for the position of 2013-14 Interconnect Student Champion for Edinburgh Napier University.  I got the job; huzzah!

The job involves promoting and developing Interconnect activities and events working with staff and liaising with my fellow students.  On a more local level I’ll also be working on promoting Connect within the university with the lovely Maria, who will be representing the engineers.  As there are a few champions dotted around the country, we will be meeting several times throughout the year to discuss our collective experiences and our thoughts on how the network is developing both local and nationally.

I’m slightly nervous as the role is brand new and I want to set a good precedent for the future, however I’m also very excited as if my ideas work they might be used for years to come!  I really am looking forward to getting stuck in though and coercing encouraging more female students to get involved with the network.  My involvement with Interconnect last year was a huge confidence booster (being a female student in the School of Computing can get lonely at times) and it’s great to have such a wonderful support network to turn to, so if I can get the word out there to new and existing students Interconnect will hopefully be as beneficial to them as it is to those of us who are currently involved.  We might even be able to convince more women in study computing or engineering, which would really be fantastic.

Here’s to a successful 2013-14!

 

Take your “pink it and shrink it” and stick it

I’m even grumpier than usual thanks to being in bed for most of the week with some stupid virus or somesuch, so I’ve decided to have a rant as part of the recovery process.  So ner.

As a lady geek, one thing that grinds my gears in particular is the “pink it and shrink it” policy of many tech companies.  Remember that Nintendo 3DS “I’m not a gamer” campaign at Christmas, where various women simpered over their coral pink consoles and told the world that they are actually chefs, coin collectors and dog trainers?

It’s a shame we have an LCD telly, because throwing my shoe at the screen when I see awful adverts like these isn’t the same as when we had our CRT telly.  That screen was tough!  I’m thinking of petitioning Samsung to provide Gorilla Glass protective screens with their new tellies for those of us who don’t want to break our equipment…

Anyway, I digress.  I got over it and carried on hacking things to death on my Xbox, as you do.

Now, I’ve admired Microsoft as a company for many years, especially as they seem to have had a good, proactive approach to women in tech from the very start.  I also had the pleasure of meeting and having a very insightful conversation with a lovely Microsoft rep called Linda (unfortunately I’ve lost her business card and despite some desperate Googling I can’t find her) at a seminar last year.  She had lots of positive anecdotes about her life at Microsoft and was really inspiring.  I subsequently joined the Women at Microsoft page on Facebook and have enjoyed a lot of the posts and articles – until this one caught my eye:

Microsoft’s Dara Ibrahim at a Dubai Women in Technology networking event with a *shudder* pink Surface

Really, Microsoft?  I am disappoint.  Truly.

The two examples above only do damage to those of us trying to make it in a man’s world and it really makes me despair.  I’m so tired of tech companies catering to women on the basis that they only live to play Cooking Mama or only use their devices to play Farmville and shop for dresses.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the colour pink and I’m not a total ice queen when I see a puppy, but not all women who pick up a laptop get upset if the cover isn’t the same shade as their fingernails.  Women are attracted to computing, science and technology for exactly the same reasons as men.

Have you ever considered that, guys?  It really is that simple.