UMD Hosts Computer Science Conference for Female Students

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: February 17, 2019 09:27 PM

Computer science is a career that’s often times dominated by men. UMD is trying to change that by encouraging female students to get in the field by exposing them to computer science early.

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UMD has been doing that by having computer science students work with professors on research projects related to the field. Students presented their research at a conference Saturday for women studying computer science.

The UMD campus was filled with computer science students, faculty, and professionals who united for the conference which is focused on one goal, encouraging more women to pursue computing fields.

"We are trying to help build their confidence and trying to create a community, a sense of belonging, a sense of community for them so they're not by themselves. There’s only 11 percent of women in computing fields,” Arshia Khan, an associate professor for UMD’s computer science department, said.

UMD is trying to change that percentage by exposing female students to the field early on in their career.

Since November, computer science students teamed up in groups with professors to work on research projects that they presented to everyone at the conference.

"We are presenting a conceptual poster on touch typing and virtual reality and impacts on it on character air raid and where its permanent,” Emily Hansson, a UMD computer science undergrad student, said.

"This is a project for women and if we reach out at the undergrad level it improves retention and keeps women in computer science,” Sophia Knight, an assistant professor for the UMD computer science department, said.

"This project has certainly inspired me to think more about answering questions outside of what has already been done so I thought that was interesting,” Hansson said.

The conference also featured keynote speakers who shared their experience in the computer science industry and offered tips to female students.

“I've been really happy to get into computer science. It's not what I studied initially at the university but I switched into it and ended up doing a masters and PhD and I’ve been really happy with doing research,” Knight said.

The conference hopes to inspire a future of more women in computer science.

"I don't see the reason why there are less women in this field,” Yumna Anwar, a UMD computer science grad student, said. "I’ve seen some of the best computer science professors being female professors."

The conference will take place Sunday as well from 9:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Alejandra Palacios

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