As told by TUNE House scholar, Aishwarya Manoharan
“Only 4% of college freshman show interest in the computer science field.” Oh, wow, okay. “82% of computer science graduates are male.” Geez that explains why a lot of my computer classes are filled with guys. “Only 25% of women hold computing jobs.” Am I even capable enough to study computer science?
That was a pretty accurate representation of my thoughts, and probably the thoughts of most other women who are in tech, every time we peer into the huge gender gap. For a lot of women interested in pursuing the computer science field, this gender gap is a huge obstacle in our paths, along with walls of stereotypes and other barriers that come along in the package. I found that there are two ways to deal with the gap: fall in, or build a bridge over it. I chose to build a bridge.
Using technology as a weapon of mass construction
For me, my drive to pursue a career in the tech industry was driven by the ambition to make an impact with technology to change the world. I think of technology as a weapon of mass construction because it creates opportunity, it creates innovation and makes the impossible…possible. This was it. I was fascinated by the ways to use these technologies in underdeveloped areas to be a part of solving the world’s most pressing social issues. And those may be lofty goals, but that, to me, is the beauty of technology — anything is possible. This was the foundation of my bridge.
I get to this point, but here I am again, faced with the gender gap and stereotypes. I started to take advantage of all the opportunities that came my way, not letting even one slip away, anything from attending tech events and workshops to hearing about the cutting-edge innovations to listening to stories from other people in STEM fields. Being involved and active this way has been really helpful to stay grounded and that’s when I took the opportunity to be a part of the TUNE House Program.
A new kind of community
This program has had a very personal impact on me. I have had numerous experiences from the networking events, tech workshops, and of course, the strong support system I come home to every day. Living in a community where I am constantly inspired by my amazing housemates while having a small and strong community to lean on during my freshman year of college at a large university, has been really beneficial especially while navigating through the nooks and crannies of the college experience. The TUNE House scholarship does an exceptional job bridging the gender gap in a unique and efficient way.
Living in a house with like-minded and motivated people has helped me stay driven and expand my own interests by learning about their experiences. My housemates are incredible resources who are always willing to help, giving me the opportunity to explore various areas in the tech field. Before coming into the TUNE House, I thought of computer science as one entity, but after hearing about the other girls’ experiences and interests, I was really able to learn about the many different sub areas in computer science, like machine learning or natural language processing, and how they can be combined with so many other interests and industries.
In today’s workforce, the lack of equal representation of women in the technology industry is unfortunate, especially because a field like computer science thrives off of loads of creativity, and the only place to get that much creativity is from diversity. The aspect of multiple perspectives and opinions coming together to fuel an innovation or breakthrough, is why diversity is incredibly significant.
Importance of belonging
Being surrounded by the huge gender gap in almost all of my experiences in the tech scene, sometimes made me feel like an outsider because I was often a minority in the room. But I knew I belonged in that room with my growing passion for tech to prove it. The TUNE House has enforced this mentality for me, and that is why I think it is vital to have programs like this to be included in a network of women who are fighting the diversity issue together. I have to say, it’s pretty cool being surrounded by women who are constantly changing the game of the industry!
For me, the TUNE House program has been more than just a place to live during college — It has served as a place where I can interact with people of my own interests and passions and be inspired and motivated to pass on my knowledge and inspire others to do the same as well. I really believe that continuing to live in the TUNE House will allow me to keep meeting new people and build larger connections while being influenced by successful females in the industry. It’s been a wonderful ride so far but I am excited for what the future holds!
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