Category Archives: Computing Education

Women’s History Month: How Hiring Managers Can Accelerate Change in the Tech Gender Gap

This Post was written by Joe Devine
Date posted: March 8, 2018

Image: HackerRank

March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to recognize it than sharing recent data that shows the gender gap between men and women learning to code is shrinking. The data comes from a survey conducted by HackerRank, featuring 14,616 developers, almost 2,000 of which were women.

The survey results show that young women today, considered under the age of 25, are 33% more likely to study computer science compared with women before 1983. More students are starting to learn how to code before turning sixteen. Consequently, students taking computer science 101 courses start out on more equal footing. Before now, there was a 20 percentage point gap between men and women over 35 years old who began coding before they were 16 years old. Now that gap has shrunk to seven percentage points.

Even more encouraging, women represent 53% of new computer science graduates entering the workforce. When it comes to skills, women report knowing Java, JavaScript, C, C++, and Python the most. According to their 2018 Developer Skills Report, it turns out these are the most in-demand languages for front-end, back-end, and full-stack positions.

Women in STEM work in a diverse range of fields from hardware and security to automotive. The most common industries are technology (53.2%), finance (10.7%), and education (4.7%).

However, women are still more likely to hold junior positions
While this data is extremely encouraging for the future of women in STEM, there is still more work ahead. The survey found that women of all ages are still more likely to hold junior positions than their male counterparts. Over 20% of women over the age of 35 still hold a junior role. This survey defines junior developers as Level 1 software engineers. Senior developers included positions with the title senior, manager, director, VP, or C-level. As HackerRank states:

In other words, women over 35 are 3.5x more likely to be in junior positions than men. Although it’s not clear when these women started their careers, it is interesting that either women are starting their careers relatively later in life or are, generally, stuck in junior positions.

Hiring managers can be part of the solution
There is an opportunity here for hiring managers to be a part of the change. They have the power to create diverse, inclusive workplaces. It’s important to be aware of unconscious biases with hiring decisions, such as racism, ageism, and sexism. However, there are ways to reduce these biases.

Have an open mind and do your research. Acknowledge there is change that needs to be made, and embrace the role you play in driving that change.

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A Closer Look: Why You Should Learn Kotlin

This Post was written by Stephen Sprague
Date posted: February 19, 2018

Whether you’re a new software developer or you’re a veteran looking to expand your skill set, it’s always a good idea to research programming languages. While there are plenty of languages available, the most common Android language is Java. However, Kotlin is starting to catch up, and many developers are taking notice. So, which language should you stick with: Java or Kotlin?

Well, both.

First, Kotlin is completely interoperable with Java. Since Google announced Kotlin as an official language for Android development, the open source, statically typed language has gained momentum. It runs on the JVM and you can easily start using Kotlin on an existing Java project. Many convoluted tasks in Java become simplified and shortened in Kotlin. In many instances Kotlin allows you to add just one word or phrase that replaces at least twenty lines of Java code. The Kotlin website does a great job of outlining key differences between the two languages. As a preview:

  • Null references are backed into its type system (no more NPE!)
  • Kotlin arrays are invariant
  • Kotlin has proper function types, compared to Java’s SAM-conversions.

Second, Java is more traditional. As this article from TechBeacon points out, Java doesn’t have support for method references, streams, or lambdas. It’s also less concise, meaning it takes longer to write and more time to read, which in turn makes it more error prone.

For total beginners…
If you’re completely new to programming, it’s a good idea to start with Java. Most Android code is still written in Java and more learning resources exist. However, once you have a basic understanding of Java, start to integrate Kotlin, and other languages, in your practices as well.

So, will you be challenging yourself to learn a new language? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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Preparing for Computer Science Education Week

This Post was written by Bridge Technical Talent
Date posted: December 6, 2017

computer science education week

Dreading the cold temperatures that December brings? No worries, at least there’s one thing you can look forward to: Computer Science Education Week! The beginning of December marks the start of one of the most exciting weeks of the year. From December 4-10, educators and STEM professionals across the globe dedicate their time to inspiring youth to learn how to code and explore career opportunities.

Founded in 2009, Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is run by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to implementing and expanding computer science education in our school systems. Over 350 partners and 100,000 educators worldwide support this week-long call to action.

Introducing computer science at an early age promotes problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity. In our digital age, it’s becoming necessary for students to learn about algorithms or app development. Some have equate not knowing programming to illiteracy. Currently, there are 500,000 open computing positions across the nation, and this is projected to grow at twice the rate of all other jobs, according to Hour of Code (HOC). In fact, computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the United States. Consequently, a computer science major can earn 40% more than the college average.

computer science education week

Image: https://hourofcode.com/us

Nevertheless, there’s lots you can do to be an advocate for technology education in your community. For example, reach out to your local school district and volunteer to help host an Hour of Code in one of their classrooms or your workplace. Take it one step further, contact your state representatives. Petition them to allow computer science to count toward math/science credit. You can even donate to Computer Science Education Week to help support their efforts.

Don’t forget, December isn’t the only time you can host an Hour of Code! This one hour introduction to computer science is available to schools and educators year-round. With this in mind, it’s important to continue promoting computer science education at all times. Technology affects every facet of our lives now. To illustrate, computer science is the foundation of industries like the medical field, agriculture, even the arts. We hope you’ll take part, not just this week, but all year, in this movement to provide our youth with computer science education.

Stay tuned to read more about how we’re participate in #CSEdWeek this year! For now, read about what we’ve done in the past.

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University of Rhode Island Celebrates 50 Years of Computer Science

This Post was written by Bridge Technical Talent
Date posted: October 13, 2017

Image: https://www.cs.uri.edu/50th/

We’re excited for the University of Rhode Island as it celebrates the 50th Anniversary of its Department of Computer Science and Statistics. This is an important milestone for the university, which was the first university to offer a computer science program in New England.

Join them Saturday, October 14th, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm in Beaupre Hall, on the Kingston Campus. Interested in learning more? Register for the event on their website.

Founded in 1967, the Computer Science Department at URI offers undergraduate and graduate coursework. Programs include computer science, data science, statistics, digital forensics, and more. Faculty members research machine learning and data mining, bioinformatics, sensor networks, and more. During this celebration, hear from keynote faculty speakers and explore the Department of Computer Science and Statistics!

With Computer Science Education Week quickly approaching, it’s important to recognize and attend events such as these. We need to support tech education. Computing now makes up ⅔ of projected new jobs in STEM. Despite this, high school computer science classes do not count toward math or science requirements in 22 states. Parents, teachers, and IT professionals all have a role to play in spreading computer science to more schools.

In Rhode Island, we are making strong strides to getting computer science integrated into our public school programs. The University of Rhode Island Computer Science and Statistics Department has played a pivotal and leading role. During the 2015/2016 school year, over 100 students at the Academy for Career Exploration received college credit for computer science. URI Professor Victor Fay-Wolfe designed the curriculum. URI also partnered with the State of RI on their CS4RI program. This program aims to have computer science taught in every public school in the state by December 2017. Many RI high schools are adopting the URI developed curriculum.

Women and minorities are under-represented in the computer science workforce. However, URI is a strong advocate to help turn this around. In fact, another URI Professor, Jessie Barrett, has worked with PASA and the Danielle Bessler Foundation for women of high-school age. These programs teach women how to design and build websites as well as mobile apps. Each year, the number of students taking part in this program grows.

It’s appropriate that URI is taking the time to honor this program that is so integral to the success of our technical business climate in RI. Congratulations!

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