Student Group Spotlight: GU Women Who Code


4E would like to introduce a new series: Student Group Spotlight! In each installment of this series, we will be highlighting one lesser-known group on campus. For our very first Spotlight, we interviewed Devon Wood (MSB ’16) and Stephanie Kim (MSB ’17) from GU Women Who Code.

For those who don’t know, what is GU Women Who Code?

GU Women Who Code (GUWWC) is an initiative started in Spring 2014 to provide opportunities for women to learn about computer programming, no matter what their skill levels, and to encourage dialogue about women pursuing careers in technology. Our mission is to build digital literacy for today’s job market and to raise the odds that more women will consider careers in the technology field. We primarily target women who have no previous coding experience, but we have members at all levels of learning, and from all parts of Georgetown. We hold several programming lectures every semester, taught by Professor Lisa Singh in the computer science department. Students can also meet with volunteer mentors to work on programming exercises and projects based on material taught in the lectures. This year, we are also hoping to add more events such as visiting speakers, special lectures on advanced programming topics and networking events with local alumni in the technology field.

What made you (the organizers of GUWWC) decide to start this organization?

The idea of a women’s programming initiative began after numerous women in the computer science department expressed concern that many of their friends were interested in learning about computer programming, but had no experience and were hesitant to commit to a full academic course. We realized that there could be a much better way for women to get involved, especially at the introductory levels.

As GUWWC is a new-ish organization, what was it like getting it off the ground? How did you advertise for new members, get university support, etc?

While GUWWC was founded in Spring 2014, we were really able to hit the ground running in the Fall 2014 semester. Knowing that most people hear about campus events and organizations through social media, I created the GUWWC Facebook page and posted a Facebook event to publicize our information session, which was only a few days away. Despite the short notice, we ended up with an amazing turnout, and we now have over 500 members! Soon after creating our Facebook page, we designed the official logo and created the website. Our website features our upcoming events, photos, videos, blog and more! We also like to stay active on Twitter (@GUWomenWhoCode) to promote our events, post interesting articles and connect with the larger tech community. Hopefully, we’ll start becoming more active on Instagram this semester. To further promote GUWWC, we created a video about the story of GUWWC and why it’s important for students of all backgrounds and interests to get involved.

Coding is a very abstract concept for a lot of people on campus. How do you make it more of an “approachable” subject/how do you make it easier for inexperienced people to get into it?

I think the most important part of getting people into programming is simply giving the first lecture. If we can get people to attend just one lecture, they can get a basic sense of what programming is about and are then much more likely to continue with the program. The second important part is to give people the opportunity to learn at their own pace and not feel pressured to suddenly commit long hours to learning how to code. Once the pressure is off, people can have a lot more fun learning, even with minimal experience.

And for anyone reading this who might be interested, what are some examples of coding in everyday life?

Programming is used in almost everything we do. Every time you use touch ID to log into your smartphone, there is an intricate and highly adaptable algorithm that is able to identify the different physical attributes of fingerprint. It is through the complex coding of that algorithm that it is possible to add higher security and privacy measures to smart phones, where people keep much personal information.

Whenever you watch Netflix and rate your movies and TV shows, you give Netflix crucial information and user preferences that is added to an algorithm that knows how to predict similar movies and shows that you might enjoy. The more data that Netflix gains, the better it can predict user preferences, improving your Netflix experience.

Thanks to Devon and Stephanie for answering our questions! For more information about GU Women Who Code, check out their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!


Staffers of the Week: Personnel and Blahg Power

SOTW Lindsay Michal Addie

Names Lindsay Lee; Michal Grabias; Addie Fleron
Positions on The Hoya Senior Blog Editor; Director of Personnel; Human Resources Manager
Years 2016; 2015; 2016
Schools COL; MSB; COL
Majors Economics; Finance/OPIM; Undeclared
Hometowns Albany, NY; Northborough, MA; Westfield, MA

What did you do to earn staffer of the week?

Lindsay: You’re lookin’ at it! I redesigned the layout for the blahg. (Writer’s Note: Lindsay requested this special spelling of “blahg,” and I also find it hilarious because she is going to have to edit her own interview.) (Editor’s note: it is currently making me uncomfortable to edit my own words.)

Michal and Addie: We forced people to judge other people and then compiled it so we could judge people in the least judgmental way possible. (Writer’s Note: The Personnel team actually conducted peer reviews, which provided feedback and constructive criticism for a large part of the Hoya Staff. The process took hours of hard work and professionalism!)

What is your favorite part about working for The Hoya?

Lindsay: People sending me aggressive numbers of funny articles online and also not feeling like a dork for making grammar/typography jokes.

Michal: How great the people are. That’s why I’ve stayed around so much. We have personnel dinners and I love hanging out with them.

Addie: I get to know everything about everything! And I love everyone … even though I know everything about them. Which says a lot.

In your opinion, which person in the office is most likely to be president? Least likely?

Lindsay: Most likely: Wow. This is hard. This shouldn’t be this difficult! I’ll say Nicole Jarvis (Deputy Guide Editor) because people just gravitate toward her. She’s really deceptively cute, but I feel like she could be ferocious and a very strong leader. Least likely: Chris Grivas (Deputy Photo Editor) because he consistently spells my name wrong and that’s a skill you just need as president. Oh, also Ryan Bacic (Senior Sports Editor), because he’s too sassy for his own good.

Michal: Most likely: I could see Braden (Executive Editor) as president. (Note: Braden is not American and cannot be President.) But we’ve amended the Constitution before; why not now? Least likely: Zoe (Senior Layout Editor) for reasons that everyone in the office knows. (Writer’s Note: Actually, I’m pretty sure Braden is less likely than Zoe for obvious reasons. As in, his nationality.)

Addie: Most likely: Jon Rabar (Former General Manager) could convince you to vote for him or your life would end. So yeah… that. Least likely: Michal because he’s Polish. Like Alexander Hamilton, who would’ve been a great president but wasn’t American. (Editor’s Note: DANG IT, JUST KIDDING I CHANGE MY ANSWER TO JON RABAR.)

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Lindsay: I would want to be able to shoot Nutella out of my fingertips. I feel like I would just spread happiness/Nutella, which are synonymous, everywhere I go.

Michal: Oh my gosh! It’s obvious: to be able to freeze time! Anyone who says otherwise is wrong! Have you seen the movie Clockstoppers? (Writer’s Note: He then proceeded to rant about the movie at a pace that no human could ever keep up with and talk about robbing armored cars of money. Yes, Michal wants to freeze time so he can steal armored cars of money.)

Addie: I would like my superpower to be whatever inborn power you get to be a wizard in Harry Potter, which would also allow me to freeze time and rob armored trucks. But why would I want to do that when I could just spontaneously generate cash as a wizard?

If you could have an alter ego (possibly an alias to hide the above-mentioned superpower), what would it be and why?

Lindsay: Beyoncé-Queen. I don’t need to explain that. (Writer’s Note: Lindsay said this answer in approximately 0.3 seconds. She has thought about this before.)

Michal: I had a couple fake names back in high school. People would recognize me in the mall, but they wouldn’t know my actual name. They’d call me David or Alex. So, I essentially already have alter egos. (Note: egos. Plural.)

Addie: Subtractie. As in, Addie, Subtractie.

Michal also insisted on ending the interview by saying, “No matter what, Personnel is always watching.” Hoya Staffers, beware.