Student hopes to bridge gender gap in computer science

LEXINGTON, Neb. KNOP Growing up Evelin Vasquez had expectations to meet.

"We were kind of told of like the same three careers that women could do, but I wanted something that people really don't really think of, I want to be unexpected," said Vazquez.

She says her passion for computing started when she was exposed to YouTube in the sixth grade.

"In my home I didn't have any technology and when I had my own computer that I could work on and create things it changed everything," Vazquez said.

Today, Evelin is a senior in high school and will pursue a degree in computer science at the University of Nebraska Kearney.

Darren Hanson is the business and programming teacher at Lexington High School.

"At one time it was almost 50/50 girls involved in computer science and boys and probably over the last 20 years that's totally shifted and it's trying to get that shift back," Hanson said.

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology only 26 percent of women make up the computing workforce, less than 10 percent are minority.

But what's even more alarming is by 2026, only 17 percent of the more than three million computer related jobs will be filled.

"When you look at the gaming industry where it's predominantly male, you're missing out on 50 percent of a population," Hanson said. "A lot of times you might have a lot of females who are doing online shopping but it's designed maybe by a male and just seeing things in a different light and I think that is really where the diversity comes in."

Evelin was recently recognized by NCWIT for her computing-related achievements and interests.

She also helped design her schools website.

"Do what you want to do, don't think about anybody else because in the end doing what you love makes you really happy and successful in life," Vasquez said.