The tech workforce in the US is not growing at an optimal pace. The number of schools offering computer science is not enough which is impacting the access of computer science to young women and students from marginalized communities.
This is because only 47% of public high schools in the US offer computer science which deeply impacts its access to young women and students from marginalized communities.
To address this pressing issue, we have launched #MyStartInTech, a campaign dedicated to drawing attention to this cause and in turn, help widen access to computer science in schools.
As part of this campaign, we present the #MyStartInTech interview series where some of the esteemed tech entrepreneurs and professionals in the industry share details about their journey in tech. With this, we hope to draw attention to the infinite opportunities that will lay open if young women and students are given the opportunity to study computer science.
In this interview, Isabel Gutierrez-Pils, Co-organizer, Madison Women in Tech, and Junior software developer at Ten Forward Consulting, talks about how she got her start in the tech world.
Let’s find out what she has to say!
When was your first interaction with Computer Science?
My first interaction with computer science was in college. My environmental sciences degree required a course in Fortran. I remember really liking the class and did well. However, I did not consider taking additional computer courses or learning more about computers.
What nudged you into taking up a career in technology?
I took a beginning HTML and CSS course as part of my job. I found it interesting and continued to learn about web development as a hobby.
I liked being challenged and liked learning something completely new. I didn’t consider a career in technology until I attended a few meetups and began to interact with people in the field.
I slowly began to realize that I could pursue web development as a career. It took a while for me to see myself as someone that could be a developer.
What are your earliest memories of using a computer in school?
I did not have access to a computer in school until I was in college.
During my last year in high school, a computer lab was added. It contained a few computers and some printers. Students were required to get special permission to enter.
Although I participated in our high school Academic Decathlon and did very well in math and science, I did not even consider asking for permission to enter the computer lab.
What is the importance of technology to you now and how does it impact your life? How important is it to increase access to computer science and technology to underrepresented communities and young women today?
I have recently started my first job as a junior software developer. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at having learned a new skill and been able to change careers.
I think it is important to provide opportunities for underrepresented communities to have access to and exposure to tech. Computer skills are extremely important in today’s job market.
A lack of computer skills can represent a barrier to certain jobs. It is important to demystify the technology and make it accessible to people that may not initially see themselves as ‘tech people’.
Why do you think access to computer literacy in school is important? What do you think about .Tech Domains taking up this cause?
Looking back on my own experience, I wish I had been able to learn about computer science in high school.
At that time, computer science seemed esoteric and intended only for the smartest boys in the class. I don’t want other girls of color to miss the opportunity to enter this wonderful field because they did not feel welcome or could not see themselves as ‘tech people’.