Campus / News / February 27, 2019

Women in CS hosts first event

 

Sophomore Bishakha Upadhyaya and junior Nrepesh Joshi work on making a program at the Women in CS ‘Give Me Some Slack’ event. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

On Saturday afternoon, junior Michelle Dudley and sophomore Bishakha Upadhyaya walked around the Evelyn Handler Forum in Alumni Hall, helping over a dozen students code their own interactive game. The event, “Give Me Some Slack,” was Women in Computer Science’s first event of the year.

The event focused on Slack, a program that many work forces use to communicate with one another throughout the office. It’s a kind of instant-messaging service that divides teams into “channels” and is quicker than email.

Participants followed a step-by-step guide to program their own “Two Truths and a Lie” game that can be added to a specific Slack channel. They coded using Java.

The instructions for the program came from Major League Hacking (MLH) in association with Slack, which made it easier for the club to set up and distribute.

“Basically they have everything planned, we just had to do go through the slides. The rest of it was planning,” Upadhyaya said. “We had to do a lot more publicity than typical, we are a new club and not many people know about it, so we had to talk to people and try to expand the network.”

Pizza, snacks and drinks were also distributed as part of the event.

For freshman Bethlehem Mulualem, this event was a good way to see what the Women in CS Club was about and what kinds of events they were planning on holding in the future.

“I wasn’t aware of this before I came to this country, but I’ve heard that it’s harder for women, or it’s considered a man’s major,” Mulualem said. “There’s a bias that women aren’t as good at CS, that we have more creative skills. I think it’s really helpful to put the spotlight on women for a second.”

Giving women in computer science more opportunities for both networking and advancement is a major goal of the club. Upadhyaya hoped that the event would help women in the department network with and learn from one another.

“So this is one of those fields where men are the majority, even though if you look back in history, most of the computing and most of the mathematical and technical stuff was done by women, but at some point it flipped,” Upadhyaya said. “So now it’s like — since women are less [represented], it feels like we are lesser even though in reality we’re all equal.”

The event was open to all students, including those outside the computer science department. Upadhyaya said that several students who were not familiar with coding came by just to see what it was about and try out the tutorial.

“We wanted not just women in the CS major particularly but also women from other majors too, because this right now, learning how to do coding and stuff is really important whichever field you’re in,” she said.

 

Michelle Dudley is the graphic designer for TKS.

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  coding computer science conference STEM women in CS

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