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Women in Tech: @miss.molerat

January 24, 2018 Interview: Computer Science Student @miss.molerat

@miss.molerat: women in tech

What first sparked your interest in computer science?

My father is a programmer, so you could say there is some kind of 'familial predisposition'. But although I started programming at an early age and always enjoyed it, I never considered studying computer science.

In fact I first enrolled for Psychology but changed my mind and started to study Bioinformatics. Just to realize that I genuinely hate Biochemistry! But I liked most of my programming classes so I got rid of Biochemistry and started to study CompSci.

What has been your favorite class so far?

With regards to content functional programming was my favorite one (I just like this kind of 'mathematical' programming

What is your least favorite class?

Even the worst classes in computer science weren't as bad as biochemistry ;).But to be honest Discrete Mathematics was rather boring.

Out of all of your projects, which are you the most proud of? Why?

This is a tough question since I usually don't feel proud of projects (I'm working on this issue ;)).

In general I like projects the most that caused the greatest difficulties. On the one hand, it's because I enjoy the feeling of success when I'm finally done. On the other hand, it's because failure has always been my best teacher (quote based loosely on Yoda ;)).

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What are your professional goals?

As a child I always wanted to be a scientist but I've become more modest ;). In the short term I just want to get my degree. In the long term I'd just like to find a job that fits my needs as a woman

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a female computer science student?

The biggest challenge I face as a female student is the same that my male fellow students face as well:

Trying to pass classes while making money for a living and get a minimum of sleep ;)

There certainly is sexism in computer science and I definitely could share the same stories with you as every other female computer science student:

I think I've encountered everything from comments like 'women are bad at maths by nature' to men who are constantly afraid that something they worked hard for could be taken away by women just because they're women.

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Incidents like those are luckily rare at my uni so I'd like to share a different observation I made:

Female students are often much more afraid of failure and are trying much harder to be perfect than men. Sometimes I catch myself listening to a silent voice in the back of my head whispering 'what if someone thinks you can't do this because you're a woman?'. So one of my biggest challenges as a female CompSci student has been to silence this voice and stop putting myself under too much pressure. (AND that someone is always opening a window no matter how freezing it is because men obviously never feel cold ;))

What advice can you give to women and men who are thinking of majoring in computer science?

Be sure about what you are looking for. You don't have to study computer science to become a skilled programmer. In fact the biggest part of computer science isn't about programming at all. You should be interested in learning how to analyse complexity and gaining a certain logical mindset to solve problems (two things everyone can achieve in my opinion). (Also slightly masochistic tendencies could be useful ;))

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