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The CSUN club that’s encouraging women in STEM

CSUN’s Girls Who Code club is just one of many across many campuses and countries, including 110 in California alone. According to the Girls Who Code official website, they have served over half a million girls, women and non-binary individuals through their various programs and clubs. “The purpose of Girls Who Code is to offer...

CSUN’s Girls Who Code club is just one of many across many campuses and countries, including 110 in California alone. According to the Girls Who Code official website, they have served over half a million girls, women and non-binary individuals through their various programs and clubs.

“The purpose of Girls Who Code is to offer support to women and other underrepresented groups who are the minority in STEM fields,” said club president Mariella Galvez-Perez, a senior at CSUN majoring in computer science.

“Getting women and other underrepresented groups involved in computer science and STEM is important because it helps bring new ideas and outlooks on complex issues in the field,” said Katya Mkrtchyan, the club’s faculty advisor and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science.

“If we focus on teaching women computer science skills, then I can say that it will bring different perspectives and approaches to problem solving… new ideas, new ways of approaching problems,” said Mkrtchyan.

“Building a sense of community for newcomers is a major part of the club,” said Girls Who Code Vice President Nitya Kumari.

Kumari, who is pursuing a master’s in engineering management, said she and her board work hard to ensure everyone feels welcomed and supported at Girls Who Code.

“I believe it’s mostly a community for girls who are into coding, even if they are beginners. It creates a sisterhood. We are all growing together in life and in our careers, and we help each other,” said Kumari.

This semester is Galvez-Perez’s first as the president of Girls Who Code, but she has been involved with the club as a member for about a year. The club’s message and sense of community for women in STEM are some of the factors that encouraged her to join.

“In this major, there’s a lot of guys. In my classes, I’ve been one of just three girls,” said Galvez-Perez. “I liked that they empower women, and they’re all about helping them to succeed in the tech world. I became part of it because that’s something I’m passionate about.”

In place since 2019, the club usually has 30-40 members each semester. Even though the club is targeted to STEM students, they make an effort to offer workshops that can be helpful for students from any background, according to Galvez-Perez.

“We don’t only have technical workshops. We also have workshops on how to build a resume, interviews, LinkedIn — things that all majors need,” said Galvez-Perez.

Each month, the club hosts a workshop, a social event and a study session. This semester, Galvez-Perez is looking forward to a workshop on technical interviews and the monthly study sessions.

“Girls Who Code will be joined by the Society of Women Engineers group at CSUN at the study sessions,” said Galvez-Perez.

Galvez-Perez reiterated how the study sessions could be used as an effort to combine the two groups and see how they work together.

“The clubs can come together and study together. Like I said, there’s a lot of men in the classrooms. So in our study sessions, girls can come together, help each other, get to know each other and feel less isolated,” said Galvez-Perez.

Galvez-Perez said that preparing members for their future careers in STEM is one of the club’s biggest accomplishments. She has watched her peers go on to accomplish great things after graduating and being a part of the club.

Galvez-Perez gave an example of the previous club treasurer, who went on to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at USC and work for the company Raytheon.

“Helping people get interviews and internships and preparing them for a professional career, that’s what I’m really proud of,” said Galvez-Perez.

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