March is Women's History Month!
This year’s national theme is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This theme is meant to honor generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence,
imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions
to the STEM fields.
As part of our Women’s History Month celebrations, the Women's Center and CWIT are partnering to showcase six talented women in engineering and IT fields at UMBC. The future of women’s history is being created as we speak and there is importance in sharing our lived stories now. We invite you to join us throughout the month of March to learn more about these women, their experiences, and their dreams.
Morgan Madeira, CWIT Scholar
Science major & STEM Editor of UMBC
Describe what sparked your interest
STEM and the journey to choosing your major.
I decided to take my first programming course in high school even though I knew nothing about the subject. It only took writing one program for me to fall in love. I thought it was amazing that I could control the computer with only a few lines of code. It reminded me of solving problems in math class, which I had always enjoyed, but programming was way more fun. I remember when it came time to choose a major computer science was the only one that seemed to interest me.
Tell us about an internship, research
experience or project that you are proud of.
After my sophomore year, I was fortunate to get an internship with Google in Kirkland, WA. I participated in the ENG Practicum program, which is meant for underrepresented groups in technology. I was able to work on an amazing, diverse team and was partnered with another female intern. Together we developed a contacts generator to help the software engineers at Google test their products. We built the tool from scratch and delivered a working product at the end of our internship. When I went back to Google the following year, I found out the tool was still being used!
Who are your role models in the
engineering or IT field?
I think it’s hard for anyone working in the IT field to maintain a work-life balance. I especially admire the women who are able to balance a demanding work schedule with family life. Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! are two powerful women that seem to have it figured out.
Explain your experience as a woman in a
STEM major, including the challenges as well as the rewards.
I've frequently been in situations where I feel like an outsider to the rest of the group. I am the only undergraduate in my research lab. I've often been the only female developer on teams – both in school and at work. I’m used to being one of four or five women in a classroom. The majority of males in STEM recognize the value of having a diverse group tackle a problem. However, I have encountered a few people who clearly don’t understand the importance of having a woman’s perspective. The main challenge has been keeping my confidence in those situations.
Computer science is an incredibly rewarding major. There is no feeling like spending hours debugging a program and finally seeing the correct values appear on the screen. The course material involves a good mix of theory and practice. And it’s definitely one of the majors where you know you will apply what you learn in the workplace.
The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the
representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and
information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group
of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these
majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in
College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and
finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers.
A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology
education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men)
interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other
Learn more about our community at http://www.cwit.umbc.edu/
For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit: http://my.umbc.edu/groups/womenscenter/news/24724