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Beuno-Aguilar, Rudd follow passion in male-dominated computer programming field

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Beuno-Aguilar, Rudd follow passion in male-dominated computer programming field

Senior Domonique Rudd works on a computer program on Scratch.

Senior Domonique Rudd works on a computer program on Scratch.

Kevin Pizano

Senior Domonique Rudd works on a computer program on Scratch.

Kevin Pizano

Kevin Pizano

Senior Domonique Rudd works on a computer program on Scratch.

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When we think of what a computer programmer is, many words come to mind. “Woman” is not usually one. Sophomore Emily Bueno-Aguilar is an exception.

She received her first look into the world of computer programming after an evening of playing video games. Through a school program, she traveled to a lab where computer scientists and programmers defined their responsibilities and duties. Inspired by how technology and video games are handled and made, she decided to join a computer programming class.

She has a vivid memory of entering the programming classroom for the first time and being overwhelmed by the lack of girls in the class. The classroom environment was different from her other classes where it was gender balanced. While skeptical at first, she was fast to realize that everybody in the classroom was inviting and found enjoyment in working with other fellow computer programmers.

“All of the guys in my class are nice and there’s one other girl in the class that also [agrees]. It isn’t somewhere we feel intimidated or anything, but I think in the workforce some people are intimidated by more males, and I’m trying to prove that I can fit in,” said Bueno-Aguilar.

With programming, Bueno-Aguilar has created games and incorporated different types of assets into them. Her proudest accomplishment is a maze-type game where the computer generates the maze.

Bueno-Aguilar thinks the lack of female students in the classroom, for the most part, has driven away interest for other girls. However, Bueno-Aguilar’s interest in programming keeps her coming back.

“First, not everyone in the class knows what they’re doing; you start from the bottom. And so [girls] don’t have to know anything in there. They just have to be in class and pay attention. And slowly you’ll start understanding and once you start understanding [then] you start having fun. Once you start having fun, [then] you don’t really care about how many males are in the class [because] you’re mainly focused on yourself,” said Bueno-Aguilar. “I think more girls should try out for this class because at first when I entered the classroom I was like, ‘Wow, there are no other girls in here.’ And then once I started actually doing stuff, I didn’t really care that I was the only girl. Then there was another girl that came in, and we both didn’t feel that it was anything bad. We were just doing what we wanted [to do].”

Similarly, senior Domonique Rudd races to her computer programming class, opens up her chromebook and begins developing codes for her games. She has managed to survive as the only girl within the classroom because of her close admiration for how technology functions.

“I feel a little isolated because I’m the only girl in my class, but I also gotta show [the other boys] that I know how to do this stuff as well. I just gotta make sure that I don’t give up,” said Rudd.

She believes a solution for getting more girls into computer programming is by putting up posters with influential female computer programmers. A female inspiration could serve to benefit female students into enrolling by showing that there are programmers that look like them.  By encouraging other female students, she believes that we can achieve an increase of females interested in computer programming.

“[We could] talk about how fun the class is or how [useful] the class is. It’s not just a guy thing, I [believe] anyone can do computer programming as well,” Rudd said.

Rudd works with various types of websites and programs such as App Lab on Code.org, Pico8 and Love2D. The class has managed to create action games and card games through these game-development tools. Rudd’s latest creation, a simulation game in which the main objective is to raise a pet by feeding and training it. The impact of computer programming has motivated her to pursue a future within the computer science field.

“[Because of] how it seems more geared toward guys, maybe [girls] feel like it’s mostly for guys who are into video games and technology,” Rudd said. “I personally don’t see why that’s the case because I really like video games [and] as you see, I am a girl. But that’s just me.”

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