Participants in IMFD-Niñas Pro Intensive Training compete in OCI 2023

December, 2023 – In December, an intensive training program was held exclusively for girls who wanted to prepare for the Chilean Informatics Olympiad, the country’s most important competitive programming event.

This intensive training, which had 21 girls enrolled, is part of the activities carried out by the Millennium Institute Foundational Research on Data (IMFD) in partnership with the Niñas Pro Foundation, aimed at encouraging the participation of more women in this particular STEM field, traditionally dominated by men.

Out of the initial 21 participants, four girls decided to undergo additional training consisting of three sessions held at the IMFD offices. These sessions included a simulated Chilean Informatics Olympiad (OCI), held on December 14th, which involved solving problems using programming techniques continuously for four hours.

The four participants from the IMFD-Niñas Pro Intensive Training program (three from Santiago and one from Quilpué who participated remotely) not only competed in OCI but all of them achieved scores, meaning they were able to complete at least some of the exercises within the OCI’s time constraints. Their tutors were Camila Quilapes, Felipe Lizama and Diego Salas.

Gabriela Relos, the competitor with the highest score (135, ranking 15th out of 32 participants), mentions that she became interested in the world of informatics at the age of 10, thanks to her uncle, who had studied Informatics and started teaching her very young. In 2023, she joined the Niñas Pro activities, which boosted her enthusiasm and knowledge.

About the Chilean Informatics Olympiad, Gabriela says that “what I liked the most was the community and how they welcome you. I think the atmosphere is very friendly, and they are always trying to support you as much as they can”. Additionally, she says, meeting people who share her interests and knowledge has been essential. That’s why she encourages other girls not to be afraid to compete: “The message is to just come and participate, don’t worry if you score 0 points, because experience and practice make you better”.

Gabriela Relos.

For María José Parra Miranda, competing allowed her to meet many people deeply motivated to enter the world of programming and technology. The young student wants to motivate more women to participate in these types of activities: “The percentage of women participating is very low, but competing helped me to really understand programming. That’s why I would like to tell them to go for it, because OCI is competitive, but you have to prepare, practice with online exercises, and not be afraid to participate. If you don’t get in, that’s okay, but if you do, give it a chance”.

Romina Parra had a similar experience. Her first contact with programming was through the Computational Thinking Course at Niñas Pro. “They motivated us to participate in OCI. I wasn’t very eager to do so because I had doubts and I thought I wouldn’t do well. But they convinced me and in the end I did well and scored 100 points. Today, I realize the progress I have made, and it has been very significant”.

The Millennium Institute conducts this and other activities in partnership with Niñas Pro, such as Arduino Quest, which encourages diving into the world of programming even without prior knowledge by working on projects with Arduino kits. Through these partnerships, there has been a gradual increase in the percentage of girls participating in competitive programming events.

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