11 February, International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Meet MSc Henriette Darge

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was established on February 11 by a decision of the United Nations General Assembly on December 22, 2015. The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of women and girls in science and technology. It wants to promote full and equal access for women and girls to participate in science.

We would like to encourage more girls and women to lay a career in the field of science and of course computer science in particular. Today, we would like to introduce MSc Henriette Darge. Henriette studied Computer Science and got a Master of Science from Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI). She works as a Software Engineer at OpenProject.

Henriette answered a few questions about her passion for Computer Science and how she got there.

Why did you decide to study computer science?

I had computer science at school. We programmed a small robot to clean up landscapes and build small buildings. I enjoyed that so much that my dad suggested I make it my profession. During the holidays, I took part in a few summer camps all over Germany to learn more about what a computer scientist does all day. And in the end, I was thrilled and didn’t want to do anything else.

What was the ratio of women to men in your courses?

Out of about 80 students, 8 were women. In the previous year, there were even 15.

Do you have any ideas on how we can attract more women to study science?

I think the most important thing is to offer more programs specifically for girls in the field of technology and computer science, already at school age. Many girls don’t have the confidence to go to afternoon workshops or summer camps because they might be the only girl there. That’s why they don’t really come into contact with this field at all. Offering at least one opportunity exclusively for girls would remove this initial hurdle. For many, this raises their passion for the topic, and they only then realize that they are as much qualified for computer science as boys are.

How did you get to join OpenProject?

At my university, there was a contact fair at which OpenProject presented itself and was looking for a working student. I wasn’t actually looking for a job, but the tasks matched my interests so well that I applied anyway.

What are your daily tasks and challenges at work?

I am a frontend web developer. This means that I work on everything that users can see in their browser at the end. That ranges from the proper design to the data handling and interaction between the user and the website. With software as complex as OpenProject, the main challenge is not to lose sight of the big picture and to write the code in such a way that it is still simple and functional.

What fascinates you about programming?

I’ve always liked solving riddles and programming is basically nothing else. Each day I face challenges for which I have to somehow find a solution. I also like the fact that programming languages are constantly evolving and offering new answers to problems. This means that there is no stagnation or routine in this profession that could make it boring. You always have to be on track and keep up with this development.

Do you have a role model in (computer) science?

In fact, I don’t really have a role model. But I have always been impressed by women like Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace or Marie Curie, who were outstanding pioneers in science at a time when women had a completely different role in society.

If you are a girl or woman in Computer Science and think you would fit in our team of open source enthusiasts, don’t hesitate to apply to one of our open positions.