The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) is working to improve the image of computer science by training the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers to utilize various skills and disciplines.
The nonprofit lab, equipped with gear from about 150 member companies, employs 120 graduate and undergraduate students, 20 percent of whom are women. Students from various majors apply to work in one of the lab's 20 consortia, which range from IPv6 to digital living.
UNH-IOL director Erica Johnson says non-computer science majors have made significant contributions to the lab, with philosophy students, for example, offering valuable insights. Many young women at the lab have career interests outside technology and believe that computer skills do not rule out other careers. Lauren DiBella, a graduate student with an IPv6 focus, graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology and justice studies, and plans to use her lab experience to enter the technical side of criminal justice.
Students are aware of the gender imbalance in computer science, and note that addressing the issue without offering special treatment to women is a challenge.
The lab offers female role models who work in STEM fields, and students say more women have been applying and working for the lab in recent years.
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