STEMinist Profile: Gail Carmichael, Ph.D. Student, Computer Science

Gail Carmichael

Gail Carmichael

PhD Student, Computer Science
Carleton University

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was lucky enough to have a computer in my room from a very early age, thanks to my Dad. I’ve always used computers for creative pursuits, like creating newsletters for our Girl Guides group or working on the school’s yearbook. In high school I really wanted to know what was happening “behind the screen” so to speak, and that’s what made me want to pursue computer science.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My favourite project so far is something still in progress called Gram’s House. It’s a game designed to get middle school girls more interested in computer science by offering a story with a connection to social good while teaching actual computer science concepts through puzzle game play. I’ve been working with some awesome researchers in the United States to get funding so we can have the game developed professionally. You can watch the progress here.

Role models and heroes:
My husband was my first influence to get into computer science. He started his college program while I was still in high school (we were just dating at the time). I saw how hard he worked and how interesting the field was, and he always encouraged me to go for it. Other awesome role models are women like Grace Hopper and Anita Borg, women who made a big impact in technology and beyond.

Advice for future STEMinists?
I always tell people to think about what their passions are and find a way to connect their field of study to that passion. In computer science, this is actually easy to do! Computing affects pretty much all aspects of our lives, so no matter what it is we care about, we can make a difference in that area with technology. In my case, I have found that I am passionate about teaching and education, so that’s why I’m researching educational games for my PhD!

Favorite website or app:
That’s a tough one. I guess I have to say Facebook because it’s one of the few sites I visit every day. I use it to connect with friends, of course, but also to keep in touch with awesome people I’ve met at conferences. I’ve maintained some wonderful friendships that way.

Twitter: @gailcarmichael

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