Gia Douglass ’23 remembers the very first time she typed in computer code and saw it translate.
“Hello World!” read her computer screen. In that moment, Douglass knew she had uncovered something truly extraordinary.
“I was drawn to computer science, in part, because it felt so out of this world,” said Douglass. The mystery of it all fueled her insatiable curiosity and desire to learn. She submerged herself into coding, and when her high school classes weren’t enough, she enrolled in collegiate-level courses.
“The classes were extremely challenging, but they taught me firsthand what it would be like to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) at a more advanced level,” shared Douglass. “I was hooked.”
The Importance of Women in STEM
As technology continues to shape the future, the push for more women in STEM careers goes beyond the need for simple gender parity across industries.
“Diversity is incredibly important in every industry, but technology runs the world,” said Douglass. “Having only a small percentage of women working in such important fields would be a disservice to the world, and that’s why more women need to get their voices in the tech conversation. In a male-dominated field, I want other women like me to feel empowered to be a part of our future.”
Women represent a vast, untapped opportunity to develop technology innovations that address the needs of half of the population. It is known that diverse teams are more innovative and effective at problem solving, and yet women in the United States made up less than one-quarter of those employed in STEM occupations in 2015.
Meanwhile, fewer than two in 10 science and engineering employees in the United States were women of color. One way to change this? “We need to create educational opportunities where women are empowered to pursue their passion in STEM fields by seeing how their science can make a difference in the world while offering them access to role models to increase their self-efficacy and likelihood of success,” said Susan Duffy, Executive Director of Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.
A BOW Approach to Business and Technology
Douglass was drawn to Babson through the College’s Women’s Leadership Scholarship that introduced her to a wide range of opportunities created for students by Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL).
And when she discovered just how many unique opportunities there were for women in STEM on Babson’s campus, Douglass knew she had chosen the right school to fuel her growth.
Now, a few times a week, Douglass takes the short walk from her residence hall to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering’s campus where she is working toward her certificate in engineering, in addition to concentrating in information technology management and business analytics at Babson. This opportunity at Olin is part of a tri-campus collaboration, known as BOW (Babson, Olin, Wellesley), in which students can take classes at any of the three colleges.
In between classes, she hones her coding skills at the Weissman Foundry in its accessible, open-door design studio. She also is a member of Babson’s coding club where she has built both vital skills and a community of like-minded coders.
As a first-year, Douglass is already looking ahead to what a future in coding will look like for her, and is eager to put her passion to work, while learning about data analytics and storage as an intern with Raymond James financial services.