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At the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), we have a simple goal – to provide high-quality yet accessible education in the technology field. But for our courses to be high-quality, the professors behind them must be equally exceptional.
And they absolutely are.
The OPIT professors are paragons of expertise and passion. Each professor has been handpicked for their profound understanding of technology, coupled with extensive academic achievements and industry experience. That’s why these architects of knowledge bring both theoretical depth and real-world insights into every class at OPIT.
So, what better way to get to know our world-class OPIT faculty than to hear their thoughts on the topics they’re passionate about? In this article, you’ll read what five of our top-notch faculty members have to say about tech innovations transforming the world. Of course, you’ll also get a quick overview of other members of our inspiring faculty shaping the next generation of leaders in technology and digital space.
The OPIT Faculty at a Glance
Before diving into our faculty members’ fascinating biographies and insights, let’s take a moment to appreciate the diverse expertise that forms the backbone of OPIT.
Our faculty is a mosaic of over 30 accomplished professionals from all over the world, each bringing a unique perspective to the table.
And that’s the beauty of online learning. How else would you be able to connect with experts spanning the globe, all from the comfort of your own home?
Our inspiring faculty comes from over 15 countries and four continents. The U.S., Canada, Brazil, Lebanon, Germany, France, India and Italy are just some of the nations represented. This collage of diverse backgrounds (and experiences) ensures that your education at OPIT transcends geographical boundaries, offering a truly global perspective on technology.
Meet the OPIT Faculty at the Forefront of Technology
Now that you have a better idea of the diverse expertise within our faculty, let’s introduce you to the brilliant minds at the forefront of technology education at OPIT. This time, we asked five of our esteemed faculty members how recent tech innovations have transformed the world. Here are their answers.
Raj Dasgupta, Ph.D.
Professor Raj Dasgupta is an impressive individual in every regard. He’s currently a research scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory after teaching computer science for almost 18 years at the University of Nebraska. His research projects have been funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA, and he has earned a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of California. Talk about a multifaceted professional!
At OPIT, Professor Dasgupta teaches Data Structures and Algorithms, Reinforcement Learning, and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence in the Bachelor of Science in Modern Computer Science program. The last subject is also a part of the Bachelor of Science in Digital Business program. He also teaches Machine Learning in the Responsible Artificial Intelligence program.
When asked about the transformative impact of tech innovations, Professor Dasgupta singled out the brain-computer interface (BCI) system as the technology that fascinates him the most. He explains, “We have been able to link the human thought, the human brain, with these assistive devices.” This connection means that these BCI systems can extract (and use) any thoughts from people who can’t speak for themselves or express their thoughts. As Professor Dasgupta puts it, all it takes is for them to “just think what they want to do.”
Santhosh Suresh, Ph.D.
With giants like PayPal, Meta, and McKinsey & Company on his resume at a young age, it’s evident that Professor Santhosh Suresh possesses remarkable expertise in business problem-solving. Business Problem Solving is precisely the subject he teaches at OPIT’s Master of Science in Applied Data Science & AI and Applied Digital Business programs.
So, it’s no wonder his answer to our question also focuses on solving problems, this time with technology. He rejoices at the fact that the ultimate knowledge is no longer reserved only for the rich and privileged. Thanks to advanced data science-based algorithms, “the efficiency of airlines or railroads or how we do operations in the surgery room has gone up exponentially, and that is improving the quality of lives of millions if not billions of people.”
Paco Awissi, MBA
A data science leader. An analytics expert. A machine learning practitioner. These are just some of the impressive attributes that define Professor Paco Awissi’s career. These flattering attributes also landed him the coveted positions of Vice President of Data and Reporting at Morgan Stanley, Lead Instructor at McGill University School of Continuing Studies, and, of course, Professor at OPIT.
Professor Awissi teaches three courses in our Master of Science in Applied Data Science & AI program – Project Management, Applications in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (Part 2), and Business Communication.
When asked about new tech advancements, he also focuses on AI, explaining that the technology is revolutionizing “risk management, fraud detection, and personalized financial services.” Professor Awissi adds that AI is also used in “algorithmic trading, credit scoring, and automating customer service through chatbots, which improves the efficiency and inclusiveness of financial services.”
Filip Biały, Ph.D.
Professor Filip Biały comes from Poland, where he has taught at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan for over 15 years. When it comes to Professor Biały, it’s hard to tell whether he has more education or experience in computer science and artificial intelligence.
However, his main goal is to understand the consequences of AI for democratic politics, which is why he also emphasizes that the negative impact of digital technologies shouldn’t be overlooked. As for the positive sides of this life-changing technology, Professor Biały says that it is “essential in improving the efficiency of business processes and advancing research, for example, in discovering new drugs.”
At OPIT, you can listen to Professor Biały’s fascinating insights in the Bachelor of Science in Modern Computer Science and Digital Business programs (ICT Fundamentals, Web Development, and Ethics of Computer Science & AI courses).
Tom Vazdar, Ph.D.
Like his colleague, Professor Tom Vazdar also primarily focuses on the negative implications of technological advancements. As a current AI and Cybersecurity Strategist of a boutique consulting firm and the former Chief Security Officer at Erste Bank Croatia, he knows just how important cybersecurity is and how dangerous technological progress can be without adequate safeguards.
That’s why he’s the expert OPIT put in charge of its latest Master of Science program – Enterprise Security. OPIT has worked closely with Professor Vazdar to develop this program and equip students with the most in-demand technical, managerial, and soft skills.
Professor Vazdar also teaches Introduction to Computer Security in the Modern Computer Science and Digital Business programs, as well as Behavioral Cybersecurity in the abovementioned Enterprise
Meet More OPIT Faculty Members Helping You Succeed
If you apply to OPIT, you’ll get the unique chance to learn from the very best from all over the world. But until then, you can hear more intriguing perspectives from our faculty members. Visit the Faculty section of our website to get a sneak peek of the incredible expertise and global perspectives that shape OPIT.
The professors at OPIT have either taught at prestigious universities or have a long and impressive history in the industry. For the former, our professor’s biographies are adorned with institutions like the University of Copenhagen, the University of Rome, the Italian Institute of Technology, and the University of Stuttgart.
As for the latter, Microsoft, Meta, Symantec, and UBS are just some of the world-famous companies where our faculty members have left a lasting impact. The same goes for institutions like the Europol, the European Parliament, and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Though our faculty members come from different corners of the world, they all share a common goal – a relentless pursuit of knowledge. By learning from these top-notch professionals, you’ll get an insight into decades of cutting-edge research, industry collaboration, and real-world experience. This knowledge and the skills you acquire at OPIT will help you play a leading role in the technological revolution, just like your professors.
Although convenient, online studying can also feel isolating. After all, you’re all alone in front of a screen, probably missing the camaraderie and face-to-face interactions of a physical classroom.
That’s why our team at the Open Institute of Technology set out to change the typical online education experience, breaking down all the virtual barriers before them. The goal is clear – OPIT students are never to feel alone during any step of their academic journey. And this goal wasn’t only met but surpassed rather spectacularly (if we do say so ourselves).
Are you interested to know how our team pulled it off? Great! At OPIT, we love questions, as well as sharing success stories.
To answer this question thoroughly, we enlisted the help of Rosario Maccarrone, our Director and Head of Student Services, and Sara Ciabattoni, our Class Coordinator. They’ll break down OPIT’s impressive support system, which has effortlessly transformed students from over 40 countries worldwide into a close-knit community.
How Does OPIT Support Its Students?
When it comes to student support, one thing’s for sure – few (if any) remote learning programs offer such an intricate and well-thought-out web of support as OPIT does. This support starts before you even enroll in the Institute and often ends only after you’ve landed your dream job.
At OPIT, we have a dedicated admissions team that guides applicants every step of the way – from expressing interest in a specific course to becoming a student. This team has a simple goal – to ease your path into OPIT. So, don’t hesitate to ask any questions regarding the application process itself, program details, or course requirements.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – starting a new program can be extremely chaotic. You might have trouble enrolling in courses, managing your schedule, and navigating all the complexities of a new academic environment. But don’t worry; it’s our administrative support team to the rescue! This team will help you breeze through all the administrative requirements, from applying for courses to getting certificates.
In this regard, we must also mention the lovely Sara, aka our class coordinator.
The class coordinator is here to help the OPIT students with their everyday needs and tasks. This might include questions about classes, deadlines, or interactions with other students and faculty members. Let’s put it this way – if you’re ever unsure who to reach out to, Sara is your go-to person.
As she puts it, “You can reach out to me, and I will guide you.” Take this as a blanket statement, whether you have a specific question or are simply struggling with time management or your studies.
At the end of the day, all OPIT students are here to learn. That’s why Rosario made it his mission to ensure top-notch learning support for each and every OPIT student.
It’s perfectly natural to struggle with specific parts of your coursework, especially if you’re dealing with these concepts for the first time. That’s why there’s a dedicated team of tutors at your disposal at all times.
When we say “at all times,” we truly mean it! These tutors are available seven days a week, every day of the calendar year. You can reach them and ask for any lecture-related assistance you might need.
You’ll promptly receive an answer from these professionals who have strong backgrounds in computer science and tech. Most of our academic tutors have a PhD or are currently obtaining one, so you can rest assured you’re in good hands.
With classroom learning, posing a question to your professor is a breeze – you just raise your hand! In most online classrooms, however, this option doesn’t exist since classes are usually pre-recorded.
That’s why OPIT offers a live class once a week featuring a handy Q&A session. This session is the perfect opportunity to directly interact with professors in charge of different subjects, gather all the necessary information, or resolve any doubts. After all, some questions are quite complex and can only be answered by the experts.
And that’s precisely what our professors are. Some of them have taught in universities for their entire careers. Others have a long and impressive history in the industry, having worked at tech giants like Microsoft and Meta. Either way, our careful selection of professors is a guarantee that “what we say is what we do,” as Rosario puts it.
Though this isn’t a team per se, the continuous assessment methodology employed by the OPIT faculty is a crucial element of support for our students.
This methodology is exactly what it sounds like – students are assessed continuously throughout the duration of their courses. There are many pedagogical benefits to this approach, but the two primary ones are as follows.
One, our students can advance their knowledge gradually, which allows them to retain and apply information more effectively. And two, it eliminates the stress of cramming for the big and scary final exam that often overwhelms the students. Sara emphasizes that this approach allows you to enter the job market with a well-rounded understanding of your field.
Speaking of entering the job market, OPIT will lend you a helping hand in this regard as well. The goal of the career support team is to “help students shift from their academic journey into their professional journey [with ease],” as Sara puts it.
Given that most OPIT programs equip you with skills for dozens of different career paths, you might struggle with choosing only one. That’s where our career advisors come into play.
As you approach the end of your academic journey, these advisors will work with you to assess your skills, capabilities, and qualities, helping you pinpoint the most suitable career path. Then, they’ll review your CV and coach you on presenting yourself to potential employers in the best possible way. They’ll even help you look for a job and present you with some tailored job listings.
If you want to gather more practical experience before fully entering the professional arena, our career advisors can help you find tailored internship positions to suit your needs.
There’s a reason the above section is so short. OPIT prides itself on its competence-based approach that lets students “learn by doing,” as Rosario puts it.
OPIT courses are pretty hands-on, with at least two assignments whose goal is to help you put your knowledge into practice. Rosario calls this “filling the gap between theoretical knowledge served by classical universities and applied knowledge that is more often than not given through boot camps or non-accredited courses.”
The goal of this approach is to ensure students can “hit the ground running” and “apply their knowledge from day one.” There’s no need to go through a lengthy training process or learn anything from scratch!
Given that our mantra at OPIT is “You’re not alone,” it shouldn’t surprise you that we offer several ways to communicate with fellow students and faculty staff.
Canvas, our learning platform, is a treasure trove of knowledge and valuable resources. However, it can also serve as a vibrant communication hub.
You see, Canvas offers an option to start (or join) discussions and ask questions regarding anything course-related. Sometimes, professors can even publish some interesting and thought-provoking prompts that go beyond the traditional course material.
In addition, during some live classes (hosted on Zoom and available in Canvas), students are divided into smaller groups and put into breakout rooms. This typically gives them 10 to 15 minutes to work together and start a little discussion or debate. Sara says that she sees “a lot of interaction there,” as she has access to all courses and can review the exchanged messages.
While Canvas is the ultimate learning platform, it’s slightly too formal for student interactions. That’s why we also provide our students with access to a Slack channel for their classes and each of their courses. Here, students can share “whatever they see fit,” as Rosario puts it.
Moreover, Slack is a valuable tool in the professional context (widely used and integrated into workflows in many companies) – by being able to know and use the tool, students get closer to their job market.
Other Communication Channels
OPIT students are free to use whatever communication channels they want. It’s only natural for them to want to communicate in an environment that’s entirely under their control, as opposed to faculty-controlled Canvas and Slack.
We see no problem with this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As Sara explains it perfectly, “We’re really proud because we’re building a community.”
For now, our students prefer communicating via WhatsApp groups and Discord servers, which they use to share their experiences, feelings, and problems. Rosario says that it’s easy to tell what some of these discussions are, as they often spill over in some of the requests the Institute receives in terms of administration and term organization. Of course, we’re always open to feedback and do our best to accommodate the preferences of our students, especially when they’re so wonderfully united.
At OPIT, You’re Never Alone
And there you have it – the complete support system devised to ensure that every OPIT student feels connected, supported, and empowered throughout their academic journey. Apply for one of our highly acclaimed programs today and experience this unparalleled support firsthand.
For most people, graduating is one of the happiest times of their lives. It means no more exams, no more deadlines, and no more all-nighters. But this feeling of joy and accomplishment can be quickly overshadowed by a fear of an uncertain future. Throw job market pressure and societal expectations into the mix, and the post-graduation joy quickly turns into post-graduation blues.
But there’s no need for this. Just like your educational institution of choice can get you ready for a career in your desired field, you can prepare yourself for the post-graduation journey. The Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) is here to help in both regards.
This article will guide you through your post-graduation journey, allowing you to relax once your graduation comes and you enter the competitive job market. To give you only the most useful advice, we’ve enlisted the help of one of our alums, Francesca Fancoli. She will chime in with her personal experience pre-, during, and post-OPIT. Let’s begin!
1. Follow Your Heart
It’s perfectly understandable if the words “Follow your heart” sound like nothing more than a cliché to you, especially in the cutthroat business world. But the truth is that genuine passion and intuition can be powerful guides.
Take Francesca as an example. Though she previously focused on climate-related issues and sustainability, she became intrigued by the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the corporate world. That’s what brought her to OPIT and our Master in Applied Data Science and AI program.
As long as you continuously pursue a career that challenges and motivates you, you’ll likely find both fulfillment and success. This way, you’ll think of studying as not a mundane task but an adventure, just like Francesca does.
2. Network, Network, Network
Don’t let anyone convince you that “networking” is nothing more than a buzzword. Networking is still very much a valuable and effective way to build meaningful connections, gain insights, and open doors to new opportunities in your professional journey. The only thing that has changed is where networking takes place.
Sure, you can still attend formal networking events and career fairs in person, as this will allow you to build confidence and sharpen your interpersonal skills. But nowadays, you can also leverage the power of virtual networking, connecting with professionals globally through online platforms like LinkedIn.
Study online at OPIT, and you also get the chance to interact with classmates and alums from all over the world. For instance, Francesca comes from Italy, but OPIT students and alums can be found in virtually every corner of the world.
Genuinely getting to know your fellow students, professors, and professionals in your desired field can lead to all sorts of unexpected opportunities, as many job openings don’t even get posted online. Instead, they circulate within enclosed professional networks through word of mouth.
3. Don’t Wait for the Right Opportunity – Create It
This tip ties into the importance of networking. Suppose there’s a person you want to meet or a job you really want. If that’s the case, don’t just sit back and hope for an opportunity to achieve these goals comes your way. Instead, make your own opportunity.
Initiating contact and expressing genuine interest paints you as an assertive, proactive, and driven individual. And these qualities are precisely what many employers and influential professionals value. Plus, thanks to LinkedIn, you can demonstrate all these qualities from the comfort of your own home.
4. Create a Standout CV
Once the time comes to send out your CV (curriculum vitae) to your potential employer(s), you’ll want to ensure the CV in question truly stands out. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should resort to flashy gimmicks whose only value is their shock factor. It means presenting a visually appealing, well-organized, and impactful document that will instantly set you apart from other candidates.
Though there are many factors in creating a standout CV, one is arguably the most important – customize your CV for the job you want. Nothing screams mediocrity more than submitting a generic CV to every job application.
Let’s say you study computer science and AI like Francesca and want to apply for a job in the field. In this case, your CV should showcase specific hands-on projects you’ve worked on during your studies and the technical skills you’ve mastered. You can even include some industry insight to demonstrate your understanding of the current trends and challenges.
For instance, one of the reasons Francesca chose her field of study at OPIT is that she believes that automation can help with “foreseeing risks” and “applying better compliance.”
5. Don’t Stress About the Interview
Obviously, this is easier said than done. It’s perfectly natural to be nervous before a big interview, especially if it’s your first post-graduation. But as long as you remain confident and express genuine interest in the position (and the company), you’ll likely make an excellent impression.
If you’re like Francesca, use the interview to showcase your passion for AI and computer science in general. Talk about your extracurricular activities in the field and all the fun projects you got to work on during your studies.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should forget about the “traditional” interview question. Remember that most interviews are a lengthy process, so prepare yourself for the common questions that might come your way during it.
6. Continuously Educate Yourself
Newsflash – learning doesn’t stop once you graduate. Or at least, it shouldn’t. It’s crucial that you continuously strive to learn new skills, adapt to new technologies, and pursue relevant certifications.
That’s precisely what Francesca did when enrolling in OPIT. She sees her time here as “upskilling,” which will help her conquer the corporate job market.
Even if you land your dream job, keep learning and educating yourself. This will allow you to advance quickly and achieve long-term success in your desired field. And remember not to be too hard on yourself if there’s something you don’t know in your new job, as no one expects you to know everything from the get-go.
7. Don’t Fear a Career Break
A career break is nothing to fear and stress about. In fact, it can be a valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth. Take Francesca as an example, as she used her career breaks wisely – one to start a family and the other to study at OPIT.
8. Embrace Volunteering
Let’s say you can’t find a job for a while. Or, you want to use your career break wisely, like Francesca. Whatever the case, consider volunteering.
Volunteering can help you add relevant job experience to your CV and set you up for a successful career. Best of all? If you attend an online institution like OPIT, you might even have time to volunteer during your studies, making the transition from education to employment substantially smoother.
9. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It doesn’t matter if you’re currently studying, just graduated, or already in the job market. One thing remains the same – growth happens when you step beyond the familiar.
During studying, challenge yourself to explore different subjects, engage in extracurricular activities, and seek to understand the study materials beyond surface-level comprehension. For instance, during Francesca’s studies, her goal was to “understand the uses of AI in a corporate job and specifically what AI can do for compliance and risk management.”
After graduating and joining the job market, continue seeking opportunities to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios. Don’t just stick to what you’ve learned or experienced in school. Even if these new experiences inspire you to change your career path, do it! This turned out great for Francesca, and it will surely be the same for you as long as you remain adaptable and embrace challenges with open arms.
Thanks to the digital age, even moving to another country mid-study is feasible, as you can “take” your studies with you. Just ask the lovely Francesca who moved from Italy to France.
10. Be Patient
Once you graduate, not everything will go your way. You might take a while to land your dream job or advance in your career. You might even start a job only to realize it’s not for you after all. And that’s more than OK. Remember that the best things are worth waiting for, and be easy on yourself while waiting for them.
Of course, if you’ve read all the tips outlined in this article, you won’t be waiting idly. You’ll use this time to better yourself, improve your skills, meet new people, and explore alternative paths. Combine these actions with your formal knowledge, and it’s only a matter of time before you reach the top. But more importantly – you’ll also enjoy your journey up there.
Put Your Trust in OPIT
At OPIT, we have one goal – to help you achieve your dream career. This involves empowering you to excel in your chosen field during and after graduation. If you have any questions about our study programs, contact us directly. We’ll be happy to share more tips from our alumni who have successfully navigated their career paths, just like Francesca.
Did you know that the world’s first computer programmer was a woman? That’s right, Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer, is widely considered the first person to recognize the potential of a computer. She realized it could go beyond mere calculations and handle symbols and logical operations (besides numbers).
Yet, many scholars still argue that Lovelace’s contributions to the field have been vastly overstated, going as far as denying them altogether. Unfortunately, it all boils down to a belief that a woman “didn’t do, and shouldn’t do, and couldn’t do” such a thing.
Perhaps similar beliefs are the reason why women continue to be underrepresented in the field of computing today. Since Lovelace, many female tech visionaries have made significant and varied contributions to this field. And yet, the gap persists.
Is this how it will always be? Or can something be done to pave the way for a more inclusive future in computing? That’s what this article will explore.
The History of Women in Computing and Computer Science
Ada Lovelace’s work in the mid-19th century laid the foundation for modern computing, earning her the flattering title of “World’s First Computer Programmer.” But she wasn’t the only woman to make monumental contributions to computer science.
To understand the ever-growing push for equality in computing, you must first take a journey throughout history, highlighting some of these women’s most notable (and often overlooked) contributions in this field.
1952: Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper, a U.S. Navy admiral and computer scientist, invented the first computer compiler, translating English instructions into the target computer’s language. Code optimization, formula translation, and subroutines are just some computing developments inspired by Hopper’s groundbreaking work.
That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that the world’s largest gathering of women technologists is named in her honor – the Grace Hopper Celebration.
1962: Katherine Johnson
Katherine Johnson, one of the women immortalized in the 2016 book and film “Hidden Figures,” was the one to run equations needed for John Glenn’s historic orbital flight in 1962. She would go on to work on other groundbreaking NASA missions, including the Apollo program.
1970s: Adele Goldberg
Though Adele Goldberg has made many contributions to computing, she’s best known for developing the Smalltalk programming language, which was crucial in shaping modern graphical user interfaces.
1985: Radia Perlman
The fact that Radia Perlman is often referred to as the “Mother of the Internet” probably tells you all you need to know about her importance in computing history. Perlman is renowned for inventing the Spanning Tree Protocol, a technology that greatly enhanced the reliability and efficiency of network communication.
1997: Anita Borg
In 1997, a U.S. computer scientist, Anita Borg, founded the Institute for Women in Technology. This institute had (and continues to have) two simple goals – to increase the representation of women in technical fields and enable them to create more technology.
2018: Joy Buolamwini
Joy Buolamwini, currently one of the most influential women in computer science, is primarily known for her groundbreaking graduate thesis uncovering significant racial and gender bias in AI services. She also founded the Algorithmic Justice League, a non-profit organization focusing on making tech more equitable and accountable.
The Present State of Women in Computing and Computer Science
There have undoubtedly been strides in increasing women’s representation in computing and computer sciences. Though it’s challenging to determine what came first, one of the most significant moves in this regard was giving credit where credit’s due.
For instance, the “ENIAC Six,” the six women tasked with programming the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), weren’t initially recognized for their historic contributions. It took decades for this recognition to come, but this doesn’t make it any less monumental.
But even with these recognitions, initiatives, awareness campaigns, and annual events, the gender gap in computing persists. This gap can be seen by examining the number of women in three crucial computing and computer science stages – education, workforce, and leadership.
Today, there’s no shortage of degree programs in computer science, both traditional and online. But one look at the data about the students attending these programs, and you’ll understand the issue. Though more women hold tertiary degrees in the EU, they’re notably absent in computer science-related fields.
The situation in the computing workforce is no better. Currently, women occupy only 22% of all tech roles across European companies, and to make matters worse, this figure is on a downward trajectory.
Just when you think it can’t get any more dismal, take a look at the highest levels of professional leadership in computing and technology. One look at the C-suite (senior executives) stats reveals abysmal figures. For instance, only 9% of the U.K. C-suite leaders are women.
The Reasons Behind the Current State of Women in Computing
By now, you probably agree that something needs to change to address the gender disparity in computing. And it needs to change drastically. But to propose effective solutions, you must first examine the root of the problem.
Though it’s challenging to pinpoint a single explanation for the underrepresentation of women in computing, let’s break down factors that might’ve contributed to the current situation.
The Lack of Women Peers and Mentors
Paradoxically, women might be less willing to enter the computing field due to the lack of visible representation and mentorship. Essentially, this creates a never-ending cycle of underrepresentation, thus only deepening the gender gap.
Societal Stereotypes and Biases
Deep-rooted stereotypes about gender roles can, unfortunately, dissuade women from pursuing computer science. The same goes for stereotyping what average computer scientists look like and how they act (the “nerd” stereotype often reinforced by media).
Fortunately, initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion in computer science are breaking down these stereotypes gradually yet efficiently. The more women join this field, the more preconceived (and misguided) notions are shattered, demonstrating that excellence in computing knows no gender.
Hostile or Unwelcoming Work Environments
It’s well-documented that highly collaborative fields were less welcoming to gender minorities throughout history, and computer science was no different. Though the situation is much better today, some women might still fear working within a predominantly male team due to these lingering concerns from the past.
Numerous studies have shown that precollege girls are less likely to be exposed to various aspects of computing, from learning about hardware and software to dissecting a computer. So, it’s no wonder they might be less inclined to pursue a career in computing after lacking exposure to its foundational aspects.
A Worse Work-Life Balance
Many big tech companies are notorious for long working hours. The same goes for computer science as a field. The result? Some women might perceive this field as too demanding and impossible to reconcile with raising a family, leading them not to consider it.
How to Change the Curve
Though the past might’ve seemed bleak for women in computing, the present (and future) hold promise for positive change. Of course, no fundamental changes can happen without collective commitment and decisive action. So, what can be done to change the curve once and for all and promote greater gender diversity in computing?
Striving to Remove the Barriers
So, you believe women should experience all the opportunities that come with a career in computing. But this can only be done by actively addressing and eliminating the barriers impeding their progress in the field.
This means launching campaigns to dismantle the deep-rooted stereotypes, introducing policies to create supportive working (and learning) environments, and regularly recognizing and celebrating women’s achievements in computing.
Making the Field Exciting for Women
Educational institutions and companies also must pull their weight in making the computing field more appealing to women despite the existing challenges. This might involve hands-on and collaborative learning, showcasing diverse role models in the field (e.g., at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing), and establishing mentorship programs.
Relying on Mutual Support
As long as women have a strong enough support system, they can conquer anything, including the often daunting field of computer science. Here are some organizations that can provide just that: (See if you can spot some familiar individuals in their names!)
Other than that, women now have access to a whole host of resources and opportunities they can use to advance their knowledge and excel in the field. These include the following:
- Coding bootcamps
- Career fairs for women in tech
- STEM scholarships
Gaining Access to Education
Allowing equal access to education to women might be the most crucial element in changing the curve. After all, proper education serves as a direct gateway to opportunities and empowerment in computer science (and beyond).
With the popularization of online studying, many of the obstacles (both actual and perceived) that traditionally hindered women’s involvement in computing have disappeared. Now, women can learn about (and engage in) computer science from the comfort of their own homes, going at their own pace.
That’s precisely a part of the reason Alona, a Latvian student at the Open Institute of Technology, chose to pursue online education in computer science. Even with two children and a job (and a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics), she can find time to study and potentially earn her degree in as little as two years. Talk about an outstanding work-life balance!
When pursuing a degree in computer science at the OPIT, there are no hostilities, inadequacies, or barriers, only boundless opportunities.