Attracting women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields traditionally has been a challenge, but Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is taking steps to improve female representation in these areas.
In an effort to accomplish this, Carnegie Mellon hosted CS4Qatar for Women, an outreach program that aims to introduce young women to computer science.
“With CS4Qatar for Women, we want to help students understand what Computer Science is. As these young women are trying to decide their future fields of study, we want them to make a more informed decision about Computer Science. Moreover, these workshops teach students how to think about solving computational problems more systematically,” said Saquib Razak, assistant teaching professor of Computer Science.
More than 80 female high-school students from 12 schools across Qatar attended the event, which consisted of three lectures and two workshops: one on programming with Java and another on computational thinking.
“Computer Science plays a role in the evolution of technology in our everyday life. This student outreach program helps young women think about the fundamental issues in Computer Science. “We use practical approaches that get students to think about different simple yet innovative approaches to solve fundamental problems. This is central to understanding what Computer Science is all about – problem solving,” said Majd Sakr, associate teaching professor of Computer Science.
During the event young women’s parents were also introduced to the field and the numerous career opportunities open to computer science majors.
“CS4Qatar for Women’s achieved its purpose, which is to encourage Qatari women to consider computer science. I have met with the professors. They are full of knowledge and have great experience,” said Dodo Nodi, a participant.
“I saw the advertisement at my school. My older sister is studying computer engineering, so, I thought, Carnegie Mellon and computer science…let’s try it,” she added.
CS4Qatar are a series of computer science workshops designed for both computer science educators, as well as high school students in Qatar, to encourage young men and women to think about how technology can help solve future issues in Qatar and throughout the region.