I wrote my first line of code when I was in fourth grade; I created a two-line program in BASIC that printed my name over and over. I was hooked! I continued to take “computers” once a week in a voluntary pull-out program until 8th grade. I loved the clacking of the keys on the big, clunky Apple computers. I was mesmerized by the mysterious green glow of the screen that somehow I could control with keystrokes.
Those early experiences filled me with enough self-efficacy that I decided to major in CS. Making my way through engineering school in the least gender balanced department (10% female), I often felt like I didn’t belong there. But I liked writing code and solving problems so figured I’d stay until someone kicked me out. They never did until I had a diploma in my hand.
Eventually, I went to grad school to get a master’s in education. As I began to study the root causes of lack of diversity in computer scienceI learned the textbook names for the things I had experienced as a young (unhappy) software engineer . Since then, I’ve dedicated my career to giving as many people as possible early and positive experiences with CS.