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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Women Who Code; City College club empowers women in computer science
Eritrea Berhe (left, major computer science and club secretary) and Professor Sheley Little (right, Computer Information Science and club advisor), during the CIS Women Who Code club meeting. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer [email protected]

by Kasina Vaewsorn | Staff Writer | [email protected]

There are smiles all around as students and the computer information science clubs advisers discuss their plans for the semester at their first meeting for spring 2019. Club officers lead the discussion, with advisers Lily Xu and Sheley Little chiming in occasionally from their seats among the club members.

Once business is out of the way, Xu cheerfully encourages club members to stay and get to know each other. She has them participate in icebreakers and the students laugh as they introduce themselves. This is the kind of atmosphere Xu and Little hope to foster for CIS club members as they tackle their sometimes difficult classes this semester.

City College Professors Little and Xu created Women Who Code in 2017, a club on campus that aims to get students more involved in computer science.

“Computer science today is really creative with problem-solving,” says Xu. “If we can have more women on board, we can create more apps, get their ideas, not just men’s.”

According to, a nonprofit organization, in California alone, there are currently 74,023 open computing jobs. This number is three-and-a-half times the state average demand rate for jobs. And in 2017 there were only 6,236 computer science graduates, 18 percent of them women.

Professors Xu and Little want to make sure that students know about the great earning potential and job opportunities in computer science. And given the numbers of women in computer science, they want to encourage women to enter this highly lucrative and expanding field.

Professor Sheley Little (left) and Professor Lily Xu (right), both Computer Information Science professors, during CIS Women Who Code club meeting. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Xu has noticed the disproportionate number of women compared to men both in the field of computer science and in the classroom.

“There is a huge gap—gender disparity here and in the classroom, only 10–20 percent women,” says Xu. “I feel like it’s so important for these women to enter this field so they can have very good pay. In the IT industry, the pay between men and women is very close, unlike other fields. I feel like we should provide this opportunity for women. Jobs are everywhere because everyone needs computers.”

Not only are the number of jobs in computer science growing, but different kinds of jobs are also emerging. Xu knows that many people may not see computer science as a career option because they would rather work with people than machines.

“That’s a misconception because women, many of them, feel like this is the field where you are working with computers, and only with computers,” says Xu. “That’s not really true. Today, you can use computers to make artwork, like musicians working with computers, or artists working with computers. So it’s more diverse in different ways today.”

Little hopes that inclusion and more diverse teams behind apps will increase the quality of the final products themselves.

“It’s also important to have all perspectives—women, men, people with different cultural backgrounds—because everybody interacts with everything differently,” says Little. “The more diverse people that you have, then the more diverse the apps will be. We’re trying to balance the equity for everyone to enter the computer science field, including women.”

Women Who Code is part of a set of three CIS clubs, along with Web and Programming. All three clubs meet together.

“We combined the meeting so students would have an opportunity to get to know each other and to network together,” says Little.

CIS Women Who Code, CIS Web, and CIS Programming members and advisers. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Due to the broadness of the computer science field, Little thinks it is important for students to meet with each other to help them learn about all the different areas of computer science.

“Computer information science is very broad, in that there’s lots of branches,” says Little. “In the branches you’ll see, for instance, our computer science, we have application development, software development, web development, networking and security, and programming.”

Why not change your lifestyle to correct canadian pharmacy viagra your sexual performance in the game. It will help men dealing with performance anxiety induced ED to calm down discount generic cialis and reduce their anxiety. Powerful herbs in viagra 100 mg these herbal pills improve blood flow to the reproductive organs. However, both partners and men with ED are going to rock in bed with the great assistance of the Kamagra tablets. viagra discount sales As CIS clubs adviser, Little prefers to take a back seat and be a guiding resource for students. One example of this philosophy is when the CIS clubs host coding events for local high school students.

“I prefer that [the students] facilitate the workshop,” says Little. “I give them basically the lesson plan, I give them the objective of the workshop and go over it with them, and then they facilitate it, if they’re comfortable with that.”

The students usually work on a project each semester, depending on their schedules and available energy.

“It’s really up to the students as to how much time they devote and spend to the project,” Little says.

Right now, the students are working on a programming project—the development of an app.

“The Flappy App—I think is what they’re calling it—is going to be like the Flappy Bird App, if you’ve ever seen that one,” says Little. “It’s a game concept. They’re going to develop that same concept, just using a panther instead of a flappy bird.”

Little sees the students learning from each other as they collaborate on projects like the Flappy App.

“What I recognize is the networking,” Little says. “I think the networking for students is critical, especially for students that don’t have any experience, to be able to be paired with a student with even a little bit of experience, it gives them a certain confidence. And then for the more experienced students, it gives them confidence and leadership because it rebuilds their skills and reinforces what they know.”

In addition to the workshops planned this semester, a few members of the CIS clubs, along with Xu and Little, will attend a Women in Tech conference this spring, hosted by Women of Silicon Valley in San Francisco. The conference hosts various workshops and speakers concerning management, technology, artificial intelligence and much more.

“Women and leaders from all over the world—it’s an international event—come and there’s various different workshops,” says Little, adding that last year they took three club members to the conference where they had mock interviews with industry leaders.

CIS Women Who Code club members. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Little hopes that Women Who Code gives City College students interested in computer science support and tools to succeed. She emphasizes that the CIS clubs exist so students can support each other.

“Just providing a space where like-minded people can come together to advance their long-term goals,” says Little. “That is, studying, getting through a class—like I’m not gonna lie—getting through a programming class, it’s hard. It’s really just an opportunity for students to meet each other, find out about the discipline and support each other’s success.”

One of those students who is taking advantage of the support offered is City College student and new CIS club member Meri Hadgu.

She had originally planned to attend law school but found it very difficult because English is her second language. When she arrived at City College, she learned about the opportunities in tech and the job security this field could offer.

By taking computer science classes, Hadgu said she hopes to make enough money to remain debt-free. “I still wanna go to law school, but in order to pursue my career, I need to take a different path.”

Yasmeen Gamal, a biology major, is taking a computer science class for the first time this semester.

“I enrolled five minutes before the class started. I had a hold on my account, and I needed classes fast,” says Gamal as she points to Hadgu. “She [Hadgu] was taking it, and I was like, ‘You know what? That sounds like an interesting class, I don’t know anything about programming.’”

Gamal is taking Algorithm Design and Implementation with Xu, who encouraged her to join Women Who Code.

“I thought this would be good to meet people who know a little bit more than I do,” says Gamal. “It’s always nice to expand your knowledge and your circle.”

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