Dazzling Digital Divas
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By Daphne Lynd
On Saturday morning, upstairs C hall was filled with coding, compiling and cupcakes. Four rooms were completely filled with females in front of computers, typing feverishly to finish their programming.
The school hosted Digital Divas, an all-girls programing competition, for the first time. AP Computer Science teacher Henry Vo volunteered and agreed to host the event at Richardson.
“The past three years this event has happened at Plano schools, so when they were like ‘who wants to host the next event?’ Mr. Vo jumped on it,” senior Emily Chen said. “It’s just so fun to see the turnout and how many girls are interested.”
There are two sets of competitions for Digital Divas: one for sixth to eighth graders, and one for high school students. Teams of three race to complete the challenges they face on the screen in two hours.
“You have a bunch of different levels,” senior volunteer Miranda Gavitt said. “The beginning level especially, you can still learn, with a little pressure of competitions, but it’s still a learning experience for later competitions.
Vo said that Richardson is the leading school in the district for girls enrolled in coding classes, with a ratio of three boys for every two girls.
“I feel honored to have this event,” Vo said. “It’s all coming together. We started planning as soon as we could, and I can’t believe it’s come this far. It’s just so important because when we look at programs like computer science, a lot of girls feel that it’s very intimidating.”
Olivia Lin, a software engineer at AT&T, volunteered to speak to the young women about the story of how she became a coding pro. She said she learned code so she could create anything that danced around in her head. In college, Lin created an app to help users remember the names of people they meet.
“The cool thing about [coding] is it starts out as just an idea and to have something [you created] on your phone, to show people,” said Lin. “A study says women in workplaces focus on teamwork and helping each other out. So, in order to solve the most important problems, women need to work together and bring in that extra perspective.”
Over 300 girls applied to have the opportunity to compete at Digital Divas this year, but only 120 were invited to come.
A team of three, made up of freshmen Melissa Lara, Rachel Johnson, and aspiring video game designer Chanute Gaui came from R.L. Turner HS. Lara said she had taken the class at first to please her father, but then fell in love with it.
“[Digital Divas] empowers girls in the STEM fields and gives us upper times to power through,” Lara said. “This should prove that girls can do absolutely anything.