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Computer Science Reaches High School Minorities

10-18-2011
WomenCS2Web

USF hosted high school women in a weeklong computer science course for the seventh year running, with the idea of introducing more women to the field.

Juliana Wu, a high school senior, programmed an Android app and learned computer animation this summer, during a computer science enrichment program offered by the University of San Francisco.

The enrichment program, in its seventh year, is designed for high school females from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The goal is to increase their knowledge and interest in the lucrative field of computer science — a field in which just 25 percent of employees are women and just 30 percent of those are minorities, said E.J. Jung, assistant professor of computer science and director of the summer program, quoting data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

During the weeklong course, Wu, a senior at San Francisco’s Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School, and 17 others female high schoolers programmed apps that caused Android phones to purr like kittens and vibrate on command. Then, they designed a 3-D scene from "Alice in Wonderland" using the computer animation system Alice.

“Before USF’s summer enrichment program I really didn't know much about computer science and now I'm even more inspired to learn more about computer science by pursuing it as a minor,” said Wu, who enrolled in the summer program after becoming involved in Upward Bound’s Math and Science Program, a program sponsored by USF.

On top of Android apps and 3-D animation, the summer computer science program incorporates coding and a field trip to Google headquarters. 

“Many women do not even consider computer science as a profession due to peer pressure in schools and misunderstandings about what computer science is,” Jung said. “Our program is a window on the field that most participants wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Written by Laura Waldron »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews