what I do and why I do it
The challenge: write a blog post about why am I drawn to the work I do, and why it is important (in 300–400 words — ha!)
I started volunteering soon after my son was born because I found myself pretty disillusioned with corporate culture’s attitude toward motherhood, but I still wanted to be productive and part of something. Through volunteering I’ve gained my voice to speak out about injustices I see in the world and in my community. I’ve made global connections online and in person and have been able to use my voice to advocate for web literacy for all. I am part of an amazing tech community in Charlottesville who have been critical in the founding and flourishing of Tech-Girls.
I had pretty much given up on myself as a computer scientist. When I quit corporate America, I wondered who I was? A wife, a mother, a volunteer, a writer, an activist, a technology consultant & technology teacher. Along the way, I thoughtlessly gave up my identity as computer scientist because I certainly wasn’t fitting the cultural norm. But I still kept teaching about it and wondered why so many women and girls were not involved in it. Now I realize, if the traditional idea of computer scientist is off-putting to someone who’s actually been there, imagine what a giant hurdle it must be for someone who hasn’t.
I teach because I get to meet these amazing human beings in progress. They give me hope for the future, especially when I’m frustrated with the present. I teach technology because I learn something new every day. I teach because I want to help kids find and share their voices. I believe technology and social justice are intertwined. Technology is a means to empower voices, bridge divides and level the playing field. I want to convert technology users into technology creators, collaborators and activists.
I experience it as an “either — or” mentality with people staking out their territory, declaring that you must pledge allegiance to this or that. Liberal or conservative, believer or skeptic, maker or hacker, coder or designer, teacher or learner, professional or parent, nerd or geek, public or private, profit or non-profit, virtual or reality.
We’ve got serious challenges facing our world and the way we engage with technology can be part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s on us as educators, as schools and as communities to engage our learners with these problems and empower them to address issues through digital literacy on a web that is open and inclusive.