Women are still underrepresented in computer science. Hence, we are even all the more happy that Nataliia Avdosieva, Visual Interaction Designer at USECON, got granted the Siemens-Excellence scholarship being one of seven awardees of the faculty of computer science at the Technical University of Vienna.
This scholarship amounting to 1.000 Euro was granted for the fourth time to women with outstanding performances in their studies. This way women in computer science are being made visible and are supposed to be a motivation and a good example to other women.
Michael Bechinie, Head of Experience Design with USECON, talked to Nataliia about her impressions of how technology and informatics are still not a natural way of education for women and why creativity is also important in this field.
Michael: Congratulations to your Siemens-Excellence Scholarhip! What does this mean to you?
Nataliia: Thank you, Michael! This scholarship is a great feedback and motivation for me. Getting this means that I am on the right way and that the stuff I do (and I really love to do), I do well. It motivates me to work harder and achieve even more.
Michael: There are lots of well known historical examples, like Ada Lovelace. She lived in the 19th century, was a mathematician and developed a first “programm” for the “computing machine” of Charles Babbage. She is sort of the first “programmer”; the coding “Ada” is named after her. Or there is Margaret Hamilton, director of the department of software development of the Instrumentation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where on-board-aero-software for the Apollo aerospace programm was developed. Why, do you think, are still not many female students in computer science, despite so many exciting role models and even very good chances to get a job?
Nataliia: From my point of view, the current situation with fewer women in computer science takes derives from our upbringing and school education. In school already, girls are taught how to cook and sew whereas boys learn how to build a bookshelf. That, in the end, influences our carrier building choices and divides pupils into two different groups by gender. However today I observe a situation where females are interested in computer science not less than males (I have a lot of girlfriends who work in IT and do their job well). So, I think in a near future this situation is about to change.
Michael: Do you think, women approach problems in IT in other ways than men?
Nataliia: I think in some ways women have different interests and priorities in their life than men, so that might influence their approach to solve problems in IT.
Michael: Within your education in the Ukraine, you studied publishing, printing and painting. What significance does creativity have in computer sciences?
Nataliia: I would say creativity always matters. New approaches or new, interesting start-up projects can’t be built without creativity. We are living in a time where new ideas lead to new discoveries, but what is an idea without creativity?
Michael: I recall our first conversation very well. You mentioned that things like Usability, User Experience and Design are of great interest to you. Why do you consider theses subjects exciting? Where do you see a connection to computer sciences or development?
Nataliia: I find these topics especially interesting because of the “user’s presence” there. We firstly investigate users, their needs, interests, experience and then try to create something useful and helpful for them. I like the idea “user first” and I find myself more connected to people in that way. From my point of view, Usability and User Experience form a base for further developing a stage by explaining who is a user and what does he/she really need.
Michael: You are currently finishing your masters in media informatics at the Technical University of Vienna. Which subjects are you most interested in? Do you already have an idea for your master thesis or is this still “top secret”?
Nataliia: I haven’t chosen a concrete topic yet, but it will be research in a field of information visualisation and its evaluation. And of course, “human centred design” as a core issue.
Michael: Closing this interview: do you already have plans for later? Which field attracts you most? Working or research – or will you do your PhD?
Nataliia: Currently I would like to continue gaining more experience in UI and UX design, working on new interesting projects and dealing with the complexities of different tasks. However, I was always about making a PhD leveled research, but I will think about it a bit later.
Michael: Thank you very much for this interesting interview. We have lots of respect for your achievement and want to congratulate once more!