Computer Science uploads equity, encouraging female involvement

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Cole Federbusch

Berkelly Gonzalez a computer science student at City College over zoom on Feb. 17, 2021. Gonzalez values that there is a strong presence of women in the computer science department at City College and said “I don’t feel like I am alone here.”

Cole Federbusch, Staff Writer

The Computer Science program at City College is ensuring student success through equal representation.

According to Computerscience.org, women earn only 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees in the United States.

“Santa Barbara City College has a really strong group of female students and professors that are supportive of women in computer science,” said City College student Berkelly Gonzalez. “I don’t feel like I am alone here.”

At City College five female instructors, including a female department chair, serve as mentors to students in City Colleges computer sciences programs.

Gonzalez said that exposure at a younger age and powerful role models are the best ways to boost female participation in Computer Science.

The Grace Hopper Celebration does just that.

These five instructors also serve as chaperones on a yearly trip to the Grace Hopper Celebration, known as the biggest conference for women in the field of computer science.

Put on by the Anita B organization, the conference promotes inclusive technology and is widely renowned as the biggest gathering of women technologists. A diversity grant pays for City College students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration free of charge.

“It was really encouraging to see an entire computer science conference full of women,” Gonzalez said. “I landed an internship and was introduced to quantum computing which has become a major passion of mine.”

According to Nathalie Guebels, Computer Science Department Chair, female participation is vital to the overall success of the program.

“This world is not 20% women,” Guebels said. “When you are in a workplace where you are the minority, you feel like an imposter.” 

Guebels said that inclusion is so important because it gives women a chance to see themselves in a computer science position.

“It is really important to feel inclusion from both ends…male and female,” Guebels said. “Everyone needs to do their part in order to reach full inclusivity.”

In addition to the conference, Guebels said that competitions are currently striving to increase female participation.

“We compete in the intercollegiate programming competition and we always make sure women participants are included,” said Guebels. “UCSB even holds an annual hackathon that is just for women.”

City College student Monica Aguilar said that her transition to Computer Science was easy due to the outreach from female role models in the program. 

“Nathalie Guebels has been a great person to help guide me through attending conferences and making decisions as a club,” said Aguilar. “Even in life, [Guebels] has helped me prepare to move on and earn my bachelor’s degree.”

Guebels sees her mentorship as a ripple effect and hopes to close the gender gap through hard work and continued exposure.

“You start as the role model and then your students become the role models,” Guebels said.