New Club for Women in CS
November 7, 2018
New Club Formalizes Support Network for Women in CS
Q&A with Alexandra Bertagnolli, the first president of the new Women in Computing (WiC) student organization. Attend the WiC meeting 11 a.m. Nov. 16 in the Union’s Saltair Room to hear from a speaker Bertagnolli expects will be especially awesome: Kiri Wagstaff of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. WiC will also host a second event with Wagstaff: an informal Q&A session (details are TBD but will be posted here when finalized).
When and why did the club start?
In spring 2018, John Melchi—the School of Computing’s (SoC) director of business affairs—wanted to hear about our experiences as women in SoC, so he organized several lunches to talk with us. At these lunches it became apparent there was a need for more social support for women in computing.
What’s the club’s goal?
The goal is to provide better support and a sense of community for women in computing here at the U. In the long term, we hope the club helps with retention of female students and possibly even attracts more women to computing.
What are the prerequisites to join?
There are no prerequisites to join, although the club is geared toward undergraduate women in computer science and computer engineering, whether you’re in the major yet or not.
Is it open only to women?
No, but events and activities will focus on women.
How often do you meet, and what do you do at meetings?
We’ve decided to have one event every month at various times to accommodate as many people as possible. So no regular meetings, just approximately five WiC events a semester. These events will rotate between socials, workshops, guest speakers, and more. Right now, the club’s focus is on the women at the U. In future years we’d like to include outreach activities.
Get on your soapbox: Why is this club important? Why should people join?
Personally, I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy and impostor syndrome. As a senior, I still catch myself walking into classrooms and feeling like the men are just so much better or more experienced than me, even though it’s not true. The best thing that has helped me throughout my years in this major was talking to other women and hearing that they have the same doubts—that they struggle in the same way. I’ve also observed the difference in behavior when women are able to talk about these issues in predominantly female spaces. This club is so important because it will provide women-centered spaces and the support that I wish I’d had going through this program. I encourage any women taking a CS class to join so they can not only go to cool events, but also affirm that they belong here and they’re not alone.
If people are interested, how can they join or find out more?