The annual Miss America beauty pageant scholarship program has a tech entry this year, Microsoft developer Allison Farris.
Ms Farris, who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama, has spent the last three years as a Redmond developer in the US capital working on government cloud systems.
“Her personal journey, with poise and strength through a male-dominated field, immediately connects her to the young girls who participate in Microsoft’s DigiGirlz program nationally,” read the canned statement from Miss America.
“She bridges the gap between right and left brain and opens up the field of technology for those who have never considered it, unveiling the opportunities within STEM fields by engaging in hands-on learning through interactive projects.”
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Sadly she won’t be showing off her coding skills in the talent portion of the competition. Instead she’s opted for a piano rendition of "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6" by Franz Liszt.
It’s a lovely tune, and an understandable choice given her classical piano training. It’s just a pity that fixing a code break that stuck a few thousand VMs into bootloop mode in under 15 minutes isn’t as TV- or judge-friendly a skill to display.
The 97-year-old contest has been through some changes – this year it finally eliminated the swimsuit round – and anything that convinces more young women to get into tech is worth a shot. It does also serve a financial purpose, Ms Farris earned over $10,000 in college scholarships competing at a state level.
Then again, there are serious questions about the amount of money that actually goes to such education grants – which by some accounts make Enron look honest. Nevertheless we wish Ms Farris luck. ®