Emily Buff '19

As a computer science major, Emily Buff ’19 is keenly aware of the intense sexism many women working in the technology industry face. This summer, she is doing her part to combat this inequality by working as a teacher’s assistant for Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology.

Buff is working as a TA for the organization’s Summer Immersion Program, a 7-week course for junior and senior high school girls which covers an in-depth introduction to computer science. By 2020, only 3% of approximately 1.4 million computing jobs will be filled by U.S. women.

Working with girls to empower them not only with computer science but in general is something I’m very passionate about,” said Buff.

Each morning, Buff meets with the other members of the teaching team to plan the course-work for the day, organize the room, and prepare for class. When the students arrive, Buff works with them one-on-one to assist with coding their projects, and completing other activities. So far, the team has taught the girls scratch, a drag and drop type of code, html, css, javascript, and python.

Girls Who Code is not all computer science, though. Buff also plays various educational games, goes on field trips, and goes to hear speakers with her students. “This job is kind of the perfect combination of computer science and sociology for me. There’s the actual technical teaching as well as the personal development and growth,” she said.

about Emily Buff ’19

Concentration: Sociology and computer science

Hometown: Wellesley, Mass.

High School: Wellesley High School

read about other summer internships

Outside of computer science, the team is working to teach the girls to say "sorry" less. “Many of us, myself included, apologize much more than necessary. For example, apologizing for taking longer to code something, for giving a wrong answer, and even for things we didn’t do (like when you apologize for someone else dropping their computer,)” said Buff.

Apologizing too much indicates a lack of confidence, and a belief that you must be at fault, a form of thinking prevalent in young girls. Buff and the team are working to break this pattern, empowering girls to self-advocate. “I love helping people and would love to continue doing that using some combination of sociology and computer science. I want to work more with sociology in the future, hopefully applying my technical coding skills, which can be used for so many different projects,” said Buff.

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