We've all been there.
You walk into a lecture hall, a conference, or a meeting ... and realize you're one of the only women in the room. That's no accident. While more women are earning STEM degrees than ever before, the proportion of women earning computer science degrees has actually decreased steadily since the 1980s. Fewer women in the field means fewer role models for younger students, heightened levels of impostor syndrome, and stronger social pressures to drop out of the major. In fact, the dropout rate for women in computer science is a whopping 41%, which is more than twice the rate it is for men at 17%.
We want to do our part to stop this cycle. That's where Ara comes in.
What is Ara?
Ara is a social networking/matching app for women in tech majors at the same university. If you've ever wanted to become study buddies with that girl in your computer science class but can't find a socially-viable way to do so, or if you "know of" girls who have gone on to work at amazing companies but never gotten the chance to meet them, then Ara is the perfect app to use. Ara reduces missed opportunities by suggesting students who are "most compatible" with the user and providing a chat functionality for exchanging personal contact information. Compatibility is scored based on similarities in coursework, specializations, desired role in mentor relationships, and many other fields.
What is Ara built on?
Ara is built with Java in Android Studio and has a Google FireBase backend.
Challenges we faced
We were all relatively new to Android Studio, so we dealt with a constant learning curve while developing both the front-end and back-end of our project. We struggled for a tad bit too long with the Snapkit Bitmoji API before being told that it has compatibility issues with Android Studio. None of us were familiar with Google FireBase either, so we hit quite a few road bumps while using it to read/write user profiles.
What we learned
We all got a crash course in the new technologies we used, and came across some surprising statistics about women in computer science. We also got an opportunity to practice database design and teamwork.
What we're proud of
Three of us are Georgetown girls majoring in computer science, so we're especially proud that we were able to brainstorm and develop an app that can potentially give back to our community. We were on the same page every step of the way, and our separate components came together better than we could have imagined.