Current summer intern at Forbes, Erica Ho (BC '19, pictured on far left of the bottom row) recently wrote on her experience as a woman in STEM today and how the community she found through WiCS, Women in Computer Science at Columbia, has empowered her to be a role model for future girls seeking a career in STEM. For more, check out the article on Forbes' website, "Where are the women in computer science?"
"Usually I scroll over the mass of school club advertisements on Facebook because none of them really interested me. However, when I saw that WiCS, the Women in Computer Science Club at school was organizing a tour at the Tumblr office in NYC, I was hooked. Attending school at Barnard College, I knew I was going to be trapped in the Morningside Heights bubble, which meant that I was going to be lazy and not take advantage of the amazing city that I was in, yet alone take the subway anywhere out of the Upper West Side. Never did I imagine that visiting Tumblr would be a catalyst for becoming a Computer Science major. I was originally majoring in Psychology my freshman year, but I started testing the waters for Computer Science. After taking various introductory courses, I was still hesitant on being a “CS major” but when I joined WiCs I decided to take the leap to becoming a computer science major.
Everyone told me it was not going to be easy – but it would be worth it. And so far, it is.
Honestly, without my network of strong, independent, and fearless women, I don’t think I would have made it. There exists a stigma with women in STEM, especially in computer science because it is such a male dominated field. WiCS’s statistics that only 29.1% of CS Undergraduate and 30.1% of CS Master students at Columbia University are female, illustrating the disparity in academia for women in Computer Science.
Where are the women in Silicon Valley? Or even in higher level tech positions?
The answers to these questions aren't clear cut but this is where WiCS comes into the picture. As a supportive community, WiCS seeks to bring together both women and men to empower women in academia and in the industry. I love being apart of WiCS because of what it does for the wider computer science community. From corporate events to our huge networking dinner NetWiCS, WiCS always seeks to provide an engaging and inclusive environment for all who are passionate about technology.
One part of WiCS that stands out to me is that I can truly say that the women I met through WiCS are some of my biggest role models. Some of them are my classmates, TAs or even just friends but these women do amazing things and go on to work at amazing companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and LinkedIn. I hope one day I can give back to the CS community by being a role model to some of the younger girls."
- Erica Ho