Redesigning and Constructing the Balance Transfer Fulfillments API; Understanding Female Experiences in Undergraduate Studies and the Professional World of Computer Science

Ceresa, Gabrielle, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

As the Computer Science field rapidly expands, there has been a push for diversity and inclusivity in both higher institutions and the workplace. My technical project relayed the summer-long work I was assigned for the Technical Internship Program (TIP) at Capital One – the redesign of a Balance Transfers Fulfillment API. Because I was the only female software engineer on my team, I was inspired to pursue my STS research project. My internship was exclusively positive and I never felt discriminated against in any way, but I wanted to investigate the experiences of my peers to discern how universal this positive experience was.
My STS research focused on the female experience in STEM. Using the Data Feminism framework, I collected firsthand accounts of female experiences in classes, internships, and other programs. The objective was to bring context to diversity and inclusivity statistics and to provide a more complete depiction of women in STEM. The approach involved conducting conversational-style interviews with members of the Women in Computing Sciences Club (WiCS), using questions that were guided by an analysis of existing literatures on the topic. During the interviews, I explored topics such as the importance of role models in the field, gender differences in societal perceptions and bias, and their feeling of community. I completed this work with a thematic analysis to identify common ideas and feelings among the interviews.
For my Technical project, I described my work on the redesign of the Balance Transfers Fulfillment API. The current iteration of the API had fallen out of compliance with various company protocols. An agile approach and a backlog of requirements was utilized to divide and plan out our tasks. Our assignments included the complete rework of the business logic in an updated framework, integration with several backend servers, optimization and reorganization of code, and the addition of extensive logs for audits and errors.
Ultimately, both projects were considered to be successful endeavors. The technical project was praised by team leads as well as upper levels of management. Results of the project included the reorganization of functions in a logical manner, increased automation, and the reduction of future maintenance efforts. The STS research project revealed a generally positive experience for female Computer Science majors at UVA, with the few bad experiences being regarded as very uncommon. The percentage of women earning bachelors degrees in Computer Science at the University of Virginia is well above the national average, but it is still critical that female students have equal and positive experiences. One area found to be less than ideal was the lack of female professors and role models in the Computer Science faculty. The research was unfortunately limited in that only six women were able to be interviewed, so future investigative efforts could target more women for more information.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Computer Science, Diversity, Women, Data Feminisim

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Sean Ferguson

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