A Comic Book for All of Us, Especially Girls and Women, to Learn and Enjoy Computer Science
I want to share with everyone a comic book I’m writing to accomplish two goals:
- Introduce computer science in a more accessible, less intimidating way for those who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the subject.
- Illustrate the challenges faced by women, girls, or anyone else who feels “too different” to “belong” in the field, and illustrate ways of dealing with those challenges.
I hope this project will reduce the number of times people say, “I could never do computer science.” I’m here to tell you that if you’re reading this, at least one person with a Ph.D. in the field believes you already have what it takes to succeed and do amazing things in computer science, regardless of your gender, age, ethnicity, gender identity, background, or past education, and regardless of what anyone else has told you about the limits of your ability. We do ourselves no favors by letting biases and conformism limit the number of people who can develop new software and algorithms. The world needs as many skilled computer scientists as it can get, just like we could never have too many people skilled in medicine.
I also hope to keep learning about others’ experiences in computer science and other STEM fields to keep my current and future writing grounded in the realities of others’ stories. If you have a story or viewpoints about your experience with computer science that you’d like me to be aware of as I write, please share it with me, or even better, share it with everyone right here on Medium!
To clarify a few points, this comic book…
- is NOT designed to force people into computer science. Rather, I seek to prevent computer science from being a barrier in whatever people choose to pursue, from science to writing to art to event planning to film-making to management to athletics.
- is NOT solely focused on one viewpoint. I want to avoid conveying that “more confidence” or “brashness” or “more mentoring” is the magic solution to increasing inclusiveness and diversity in computer science. Rather, I want to include many other insightful, experienced-based viewpoints others have shared, including that cultural changes, role models, trusting yourself despite real emotional, social, and technical challenges, gaining confidence through experience, and awareness of the unconscious biases that even well-meaning proponents of gender equality can generate, all deserve consideration.
- is NOT only for girls and women. This comic is for girls, boys, or anyone else who wants to check it out, including seasoned professionals who want to review algorithms before a software job interview in an unconventional way. However, this book does address a lot of issues faced by women and girls in tech and STEM fields, since I care deeply about the challenges they face, and these issues affect all of us in big ways.
- is NOT finished — it is very much a work in progress! I’m sharing it with the world now to stay aware of the success and challenges experienced by others as I write.
- is NOT a replacement for a rigorous education or work experience in computing. The goal of this comic book is to adjust the way computer science is introduced to people, rather than to provide a comprehensive education on algorithms and data structures. However, I’ll try to cover as many of these concepts as I can!