Accidentally in Code

Archive for the ‘WISE’ Category

This was discussed at the WECS meeting this week, there’s a new attention to it as the number of women enrolled in undergraduate programs from a high of 20% to 17%. See the full report here. Recommendations are as follows:

  1. Raise the profile and improve the image of the profession.
  2. Explore how engineering curriculum and its delivery could, without compromising the high standards of the Canadian system, become more attractive to a greater diversity of students.
  3. Demonstrate the value of diversity in engineering education and in the workplace.
  4. Help better prepare female engineers for the workforce.
  5. Promote information-sharing on mentorship programs and the importance that mentors have in the attraction and retention of women in engineering.
  6. Work with industry on methods to help improve the retention of female engineers in the workforce and diversity in general.

I’m particularly interested in 1, 2 and 4.

1. This makes me wonder, is the lack of women self-perpetuating? Few women go into it so few are inclined to? Why is biology succeeding to attract women, where engineering fails?

2. Most beginner programming courses I’ve seen fail to engage. One thing I see regularly is having a solution (what you want to teach) and trying to twist a problem to fit it. Finding the right problem makes the solution seem much more intuitive. Also, making stuff that has no bearing on the real world. That’s a big one. Innovative curriculum designed for engagement could go a long way, I think. In Computer Science, particularly teaching Java, there’s no excuse not to do this. There are so many free and open source teaching tools out there.

4. It’s tough to work in a predominantly male environment. I’ve done it – the only other girl was the secretary. As nice as the boys were, it can be difficult. I’m hoping WISE can put together a workshop for this.

Let me know what you think, and how WISE could help!

I don’t know what to think anymore. Too much information from all sides, some positive, some not so much. Today in the space of 10 minutes I came across these two things, one positive for equality – the other, not so much (although the video is charming).

Positive – Marcus Buckingham writing in the HuffPost – men are becoming more like women, with the work-life balance stresses that go with that.

Not so much – KIRTSY Takes a Bow.


There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen the other day about international students. Apparently at Carleton, 1 in 5 graduate students is an international. Of course, this averages across all subjects – my experience is that in Computer Science (and likely the rest of Science and Engineering) the ratio is higher. When I first got to Ottawa, I didn’t know any Canadians. In my office, there are two guys from Iran, a girl from China, and a girl from Taiwan.

I don’t know any other Brits here. Which made it hard at first, as many international students seemed to stick with people from their own cultures. I remember asking my office mates if they knew any Canadians, one of them didn’t, another knew only a couple. With time, I built a network here; my friends are a mix of Canadian, Chinese and Persian. Some of them I met through university, others I didn’t. I’m surprised though, that there aren’t more Brits here. You can study abroad, in English, at a fraction of the cost of in the US. And despite international tuition fees being high, they aren’t that much more than in the UK (and the cost of living is lower – or was, until the economy tanked).

I came here knowing no-one but an ex, who I don’t really speak to. So when we’re building WISE, what we can offer international students who’ve left behind their support network and come somewhere strange is something I think about a lot. Building a network has been the thing that added most to my happiness here, but if you’re a girl and your classes are predominantly male it can be hard to meet other girls. I hope these women come to our events and make some new connections. That’s what (I think) we’re doing is all about.