This iD Tech alumna challenged stereotypes about women in tech with a public service announcement
that aired internationally.
Molly, a Harvard University undergraduate, has experienced firsthand the struggles of being a woman studying computer science.
“As I pursued programming, I recognized a crippling stereotype about women in technology: that we are humorless, antisocial, boring,” Molly says. “Determined to illuminate and change that point of view, I wrote and directed a Public Service Announcement entitled This is Laura.”
The short film, viewable here, breaks that stereotype, showing a young female engineer laughing with her mathematician and programmer friends, and interacting with technology in a brightly lit space. This is Laura was distributed nationally by the Entertainment Industries Council, a nonprofit that aims to correct negative stereotypes in the media, and has since been shown in forums across the globe.
In addition to battling stereotypes about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), Molly’s goal is to “show the importance of not just understanding how to use the products of technology, but recognizing their current and future societal impact,” she says. And she’s well on her way to achieving that goal.
In 2012, she was a panelist at a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Forum, encouraging more than 100 leaders of the entertainment industry to more accurately portray women in technology. In 2014, Molly was one of 35 women in the United States to receive the Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
“Through my experience with This is Laura, I’ve realized that passion for coding intersects with other fields,” Molly says. “I can take what I see in the computer science realm, and express that understanding to people distant from tech. I continue to bridge the gap between tech and non-tech worlds.”
With an impressive background as a scholar and researcher at University powerhouses like UCLA and Harvard, Molly is now a Research Assistant at Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she investigates the role of cyberspace in society and law through the Digital Problem Solving Initiative. But a love of coding is what her complex-sounding job is really about, a love that found its beginning at iD Tech Camps.
“My experience at iD Tech laid the foundation for my interest in computer science,” Molly says. “I signed up for my first camp somewhat reluctantly, unsure that it was for me.”
However, the moment her instructor began explaining the applications of programming—that she could do anything from make websites to games to other tech services—Molly’s interest was piqued.
“I entered the most basic print command and saw two words appear on my display—“Hello World”—and my universe expanded. Quickly, coding became a passion.”
It’s a passion Molly successfully shares with the world, encouraging young girls to pursue their STEM interests. Molly’s advice is reflected at the end of This is Laura: “Don’t let stereotypes define you; instead, defy them.”
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