Senior Bethany Wiles remembers being intrigued by the movie “The Social Network.” She couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun they had. Their ability to create anything at their fingertips using technology is what drew her in. Wiles says that this movie is one influence that eventually got her involved with computer science.
“Growing up and seeing all these social media websites explode, I wanted to be a part of that,” Wiles said. “Seeing the role technology is going to play in our lives, it gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”
The field of computer science is dramatically male dominated. This does not intimidate Wiles. On her wrist she wears a white bracelet with the word “CODER” written on it. Wiles explained that Google has an initiative called “made with code”, and they send out 3D printed bracelets to girls like Wiles who are interested in developing. It’s initiatives like this that make her feel welcomed in the industry.
It wasn’t until the second semester of her sophomore year that Wiles started coding. It was in April of her junior year that she decided that coding and developing software is what she wanted to do with her life. She figured out very soon into her start of coding that you can make whatever you want. It was the freedom that went along with that that really drew her in.
Next year Wiles will be going to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will attend the Raikes School of Computer Science and Management. The school only enrolls 30 students a year. As a part of the program, she will work with her class on projects for computer companies.
During her summer between sophomore and junior year, Wiles would stay shut up on her laptop, exploring the online course Codecademy. It was on this site that she first got into coding. She also took business and coding classes at Johnson County Community College, and she took part in a workshop called Girl Develop It. The Girl Develop It program is a workshop set up to encourage women to join the path of computer science.
“Girl Develop It is a class that’s centered around encouraging women to code,” Wiles said. “All the classes are for women and they are taught by women. I’ve kind of been surrounded by that atmosphere.”
Even though this field is significantly male, Wiles says she has always felt comfortable and welcomed by people in the industry that she has met through various courses. According to the National Center for Women and Information technology, in the US women take up 51 percent of the professional workforce. However in the computing industry, it’s only 26 percent.
While in Raikes, Wiles will go to regular classes within her major, but those classes will be modified for the Raikes school to incorporate more computer science and business. In her junior and senior year, her class will work on a project for a company and be tasked to create some sort of software application for them.
“[Raikes] works with real companies,” Wiles said. “They’ve worked with companies like IBM and Microsoft and some of the more local Nebraska companies like ConAgra. They work with them on projects so it sort of has an internship atmosphere.”
Wiles isn’t sure where the future might take her, but she hopes wherever it does she’ll be writing code.
“It it feels very new to me even though I’ve been doing it for a while now,” Wiles said. “I still get really excited when I think about it, which is a really good thing.”