I sat down with Shannon Hire, student, computer science, College of IS&T at UNO to talk more about her view of women in the payments industry, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers more broadly.
Nidhi Alberti: What drew you to pursuing a career in STEM?
Shannon Hire: I have always enjoyed math and science courses, so I always knew I wanted to do something in that field. However, it was not until my senior year of high school that I took a computer science course and got exposed to programming. I really liked that it involved logic and problem-solving skills, similar to math classes I’d taken, so I decided to major in it. I’m in my third year of computer science now at UNO and love it.
NA: What do you think is the best way to encourage more girls to go into STEM fields?
SH: I think it starts in school. We should have more opportunities for girls to learn about the STEM field at a young age. I went to an all-girls high school and they provided no computer science classes until my senior year. I think that because a lot of girls aren’t exposed to these fields at a young(er) age, they don’t even consider them as options. There are also a lot of great non-profit organizations in Omaha that have helped get more girls interested in STEM, such as DoSpace, Girls Who Code, and Mystery Code Society. I’ve participated in ACI’s Coding for Girls Camp, which is another great opportunity for young girls to be exposed to STEM fields.
Lastly, I think that girls would be more interested in getting into STEM fields by having a female mentor who is already in that field, someone to whom they can look for guidance. I know that sometimes it is hard being one of the only girls in my classes, and seeing other girls going through the same program can be really encouraging.
NA: Following the sessions at ACI, what were your takeaways about the payments industry?
SH: After visiting ACI, I am more interested in the payments industry as a whole. It made me think more about all the technology that goes behind just a simple credit card transaction. It made me more aware of all the work that goes behind things we do every day that are often underappreciated.
NA: What are your thoughts on embarking on a career in payments?
SH: I would definitely consider going into the payments industry. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do once I graduate, but I’m sure I want to do something involving software. It looks like there are a lot of opportunities in the payments industry and it is a growing field that is important across the world.
What happens at ACI’s ‘Coding for Girls’ Camp? Watch the news report from KETV Omaha.