Women in Computing

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.From ACM's TechNews, September 29, 2006.

Time to Achieve Many Big Steps for Women in Science
San Francisco Chronicle (09/28/06) P. B7; Whitney, Telle

While women represent more than half of the U.S. workforce, they account for just a scant 18 percent of all technical positions. Indeed, the declining participation of both women and men in computer science and other technology-related courses of study could have a grave impact on U.S. competitiveness in space and innumerable other scientific endeavors, writes Telle Whitney, president and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology. The number of incoming students majoring in computer science, for instance, dropped 60 percent from 2000 to 2004, according to a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles. Image is a major problem for the technical disciplines, as students increasingly view those areas of study as the socially irrelevant province of 'geeks' who have no reservations about spending a career toiling in isolation in front of a computer screen. But in fact, technical fields hold tremendous potential to alleviate problems such as poverty, illiteracy, and global warming. This is the message trumpeted by former astronaut Sally Ride, who will give the keynote address at the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, co-sponsored by ACM, where she will call for improved outreach programs for girls, particularly minorities, to encourage participation in the technical fields. Click Here to View Full Article

High Pay, Plenty of Jobs, but Few Students: It Doesn't Compute
Globe and Mail (CAN) (09/26/06) Van Kampen, Karen

Colleges and IT employers in Canada are working together in an effort to attract more students to IT and computer science programs. The joint effort comes at a time when enrollment in IT and computer science programs has fallen 50 percent over the past five years, even as IT companies continue to add jobs and offer attractive salaries. At a meeting at Microsoft Canada's office last year, IT employers said they want technical talent that is also able to communicate on an interpersonal basis, give presentations, and work in teams, and colleges and universities have responded by focusing more on providing students with soft skills. IT companies also encouraged colleges to incorporate IT into other majors, which would enable students from other departments to graduate with technology skills. Meanwhile, colleges suggested that IT companies hire more people after they graduate and help change the negative image of the industry. Many parents and students remember the high-tech slump that began in 2000, and the prevailing perception that the industry is for geeks and men does not help. Women account for just 10 percent to 15 percent of IT students. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, September 27, 2006.

Industry Effort Aims to Advance Women in Computing
Computerworld Australia (09/19/06) Tay, Liz

The Women in IT Executive Mentoring (WITEM) program in Australia is an effort by eight top Australian technology leaders to help provide female mentors for rising IT professionals. In 2005, 20.5 percent of Australian IT workers were women, reports the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The lack of female leadership at the top makes it difficult for female IT professionals to find mentors, explains Dell Australia and New Zealand managing director Joe Kremer. "We're trying to create more balance in the organization, because I think if an organization under-represents women at senior levels, then they are at a disadvantage because they lose a certain point of view," he says. Dell launched WITEM in December 2005 along with participating members from Cisco, EMC, Intel, and others. Phase one of the program had each of the eight companies mentoring a female executive from the marketing, legal, sales, or channel management division of another company. Phase two, which began in July, focuses on mentoring women in IT departments of companies that are not necessarily part of the technology industry. Kremer says, "This program has opened doors. We have found more of a voice for women in the company." Click Here to View Full Article

.From EduPage, August 21, 2006.

EA Exec Claims Gaming Industry Fails Women
BBC, 21 August 2006

According to David Gardner, chief operating officer for Electronic Arts (EA), the video gaming industry continues to fail women by not producing suitable content. Gardner was speaking to a conference in Edinburgh at the time. His company's research discovered that 40 percent of teen girls play video games versus 90 percent of teen boys, and most girls lost interest within a year. He pointed to EA's Sims game, which accommodates relationships and chat, as a successful example of the kind of games girls and women enjoy playing. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5271852.stm

.From ACM's TechNews, August 18, 2006.

Girls Learning Technology Is Women's Work, Too
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (08/16/06) Bishop, Todd

This week Microsoft is bringing 73 high school girls to its headquarters for a week-long day camp to boost female interest in computing. DigiGirlz is aimed at changing the imbalance that has led to the 3-to-1 ratio of men to women among Microsoft's U.S. employees. Despite the computing industry's attempts to demonstrate that software is a field with limitless possibilities, girls often eschew technology in favor of what they perceive as more creative careers. Women now account for fewer than 15 percent of university students receiving bachelor's degrees in computer science and engineering. The proportion of female employees in the technology sector drops even further in the executive ranks. Excluding women from the top ranks of corporate leadership is to discard the leadership and perspective they bring as purchasing decision-makers, according to Carolyn Leighton, founder of Women in Technology International. Microsoft is pursuing numerous initiatives to help women rise to leadership positions, including development and mentoring programs, and an internal women's conference. DigiGirlz is another such initiative, and while no alumni has gone on to land a job with Microsoft, two are working there this summer as interns. The program aims to dispel the myth that computers are boring and present technology as a "cool" career, said program organizer Emily McKeon. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, August 9, 2006.

Anita Borg Institute Announces Speakers for Grace Hopper Celebration
Business Wire (08/08/06)

The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) for Women and Technology has unveiled its roster of speakers for the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference, sponsored jointly by ACM and ACI. The GHC, inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Hopper, is the world's largest technical conference for women in the profession of computer science. The keynote speakers will be iRobot co-founder and Chairman Helen Greiner, Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman, and Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman to travel in outer space. "We are honored to welcome this remarkable group of technical women to this year's GHC program. Each of them is an extraordinary role model and a positive example of how technical women are seizing opportunity and changing the face of technology," said Telle Whitney, president and CEO of ABI. This year's event, open to all women from the collegiate to professional levels, is expected to draw more than 1,200 attendees. Participants will present technical papers and hold workshops, and the winners of the Anita Borg Technical Leadership and Social Impact Awards will be announced. The NSF and numerous universities and businesses, including Microsoft, Google, and Intel, have provided funding for a record number of attendance scholarships. The conference will be held in San Diego from Oct. 4-7. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, July 21, 2006.

Camp Allows Girls to Connect With Technology
Roanoke Times (VA) (07/19/06) Key, Lindsay

Radford University in Virginia gave high school girls from around the state an opportunity to learn more about the information technology industry during a three-day camp in late June. The Summer Bridge Program, hosted by Radford's College of Information Science and Technology, drew 29 young girls, including Elizabeth Meade, a rising senior at Lebanon High School who says the thought of taking an IT class full of guys was a turnoff to her girlfriends. Radford officials involved in the math, science, and IT program hope it can help get more young girls interested in pursuing a career in IT. They say females accounted for 40 percent of IT students in 1986, but 20 years later females make up less than 10 percent of IT students. Hwajung Lee, an assistant professor in the IT department and director of the program, says young girls are not attracted to the field because it is largely viewed as a domain for boys, there are not enough female students to act as a support system, and because they believe they will have to sit alone in front of a computer for years to come. The free camp introduced the girls to a network track, a database track, and a Web site track, and included lectures, projects, presentations, and an ice cream social and game night among its activities. Radford offered the camp for the first time this year, and hopes to bring it back next year. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, July 19, 2006.

New Recruits Still Scarce
Computerworld (07/17/06) Robb, Drew

The inverse relationship between the declining number of students seeking degrees in IT and the mounting demands of the industry could lead to a critical worker shortage in the coming years, analysts warn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one in four jobs created between now and 2012 will be related to IT, according to IBM's Mark Hanny. At the same time, the percentage of college freshman whose intended major is computer science dropped 70 percent from 2000 to 2004. The figures are even more striking among women, who account for more than half of all college students, yet receive just 28 percent of all computer science bachelor's degrees awarded, down from 38 percent in 1984. To stem this tide, initiatives are under way to stimulate interest in the primary-school level, and to help students who are already enrolled in computer science classes finish their programs, though some believe that even these efforts will fall short. "In the K-12 area, it would be so much better to see this come together as a national effort," Hanny said. "If we want to continue to maintain our leadership, we must get more out of our students excited about this as a career at a very young age." To explain declining student interest in IT, experts point to a variety of factors, including the post-dot-com bust, the fear of jobs lost to outsourcing, and the reductive effect on the potential IT applicant pool brought on by the emergence of fields such as biology. Parents and guidance counselors frequently steer high school students away from IT, said Wanda Dann, associate computer science professor at Ithaca College. IT also is fighting an uphill battle against perception. "The field has a well-deserved reputation for people who are socially inept introverts," said Randy Pausch, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Putting that image to rest will require outreach activities, particularly for women and minorities, Pausch says. Click Here to View Full Article

Wiring Girls for the Computer Field
Beaumont Enterprise (07/16/06) Lane, Jacqui

Lamar University in Southeast Texas hopes to get more young women interested in computer science by holding a computer camp for girls in middle and high school. The university held a session of its "Girls WIRED for Computer Science" camp this weekend, drawing girls from Nederland Central Middle School, and plans to host students from Port Neches Middle School in August. On Saturday, the girls programmed robots and computer hardware; designed Web pages; listened to speakers discuss how computer science impacts medicine, science, business, and entertainment; and received information that would help them prepare for college. The camp comes at a time when the nation is facing a shortage in computing professionals, and when women account for less than 20 percent of those receiving computer science bachelors degrees. At Lamar, women represent about 15 percent of computer science majors. Peggy Doerschuk, a computer science professor at Lamar who is helping to lead the camp, says there is a misconception that computer science is for boys, and that computer scientists work alone. "Girls stay away because they don't see many other girls in the profession," says Doerschuk. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, June 23, 2006.

Girls Love Science at Tech Camp
Inside Bay Area (CA) (06/21/06) Mills-Faraudo, T.S.

HP Labs held its fourth annual Tech Camp this week, drawing 20 grade-school girls from the surrounding communities of Redwood City and East Palo Alto. Taking on roles as scientists, designers, and engineers, the young girls participated in a number of activities, from taking apart computers to making GPS maps. HP sees the camp as a way to get more girls interested in careers in science and technology. "We're trying to introduce them to things that they haven't experienced in school yet or at home," says April Slayden Mitchell, a software engineer at HP Labs. According to the National Science Foundation, women account for only 18 percent of the scientists and engineers in the United States, and 20 percent or less of graduates with majors in computer science, engineering, physics, and other related fields. "I think it's really cool that they're [HP Labs] doing this event, because maybe girls think that science is just for boys," says Montse Zamora, 13, an eighth-grader at Adelante Spanish Immersion Elementary School. Volunteer teacher Nancy Baugher says more emphasis should be placed on how science is taught, adding that more hands-on activities would make the subject more interesting for both girls and boys. For information on ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://women.acm.org http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes/localnews/ci_3962265 Click Here to View Full Article

.The InterAcademy Council's Report on ways to increase women representation in science and technology. Read the report.

.From ACM's TechNews, May 26, 2006.

All-Female Computer Game-Design Team Wins Unprecedented First Prize for Cornell
Cornell News (05/23/06) Clairborne, J.R.

A Cornell University computer game-design team won the national all-female Games 4 Girls programming competition in Urbana, Ill. Sally Huang, a film major who served as manager as well as programmer, says the team focused on the social nature of girls in designing the Mario-styled interactive, two-player game, "Green, Eggs, and Pan." In addition to the competition's judges, the games were evaluated by high school girls attending the Third Annual ChicTech Retreat at the University of Illinois, where middle school and high school girls spent a late April weekend learning and having fun. "What we have are some phenomenal female game designers here at Cornell," says David Schwartz, a lecturer in computer science and director of the Game Design Initiative at Cornell (GDIAC). "To win the contest shows Cornell has its foot in the door in terms of this new area in academia." The Cornell team competed against female students in other game-design programs at the Universities of Bradley, Buffalo, and California-Irvine, and Franklin and Ohio State Universities. Other team members included programmer Dora Helen Fraeman, an independent major with a concentration in computer science; artist Brenda Chen, a biological engineering major; musician Pamela Chuang, a computer and electrical engineering major; and artist Lisa Marie Allen, a biological engineering major. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 24, 2006.

Women in IT Speak Out
MC Press Online (05/06) Ordonez, Sandy

In interviewing two women about their IT careers, Sandy Ordonez found that while their jobs and experiences varied greatly, they had similar insights into the opportunities and obstacles facing women in IT. Kristen Daebler, a programmer for Quadrant Software, knew that she wanted to study science and math from an early age, and decided on programming in high school. "I always grew up thinking I was unusual for a woman because I was more logical and less creative. My major in college was computer science and my minor was math, and that was unusual for a woman," she said. While Daebler never faced overt discrimination in the workplace, she allows for the difficulty that woman can face when trying to climb the corporate ladder, given the time demands of working in IT that can interfere with family life. Daebler also admits that she refused to give up the time with her kids that would have been necessary to advance her career. She advises career-minded women in IT to put off having children, unless they are willing to spend a lot of time apart from them. Maria DeGiglio, currently employed as a consultant for Experture, has worked as a trainer, an analyst, an author, and a project manager throughout her more than two decades in IT. DeGiglio took her bachelor's degree in anthropology, and only came to IT after working for a New York accounting firm in the 1980s. DeGiglio says that she never suffered discrimination for being a woman, and that her liberal arts background did not stand in her way. "When the momentum started with the PC revolution, [it attracted] a lot of people from various walks of life, and those that weren't 'scientifically trained' brought to it a great deal of imagination that revolutionized the whole movement." While Daebler and DeGiglio both say that being female did not hold them back, the field of IT continues to struggle attracting and retaining women. To learn about ACM's Committee on Women and Computing, visit http://women.acm.org. Click Here to View Full Article

While You Were Reading This, Someone Ripped You Off
Wired (05/06) Vol. 14, No. 5, P. 166; Newitz, Annalee

Hackers are exploiting increasingly pervasive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to beat security measures and steal or vandalize valuable information as well as physical items. The information carried on most commercial, passive-emitting RFID chips is rarely encrypted because it is so expensive, and this increases the danger that these chips can be cloned or that the data they hold can be corrupted. Although writable areas of RFID chips can be locked, many organizations fail to do so because they are unfamiliar with the equipment's operation or because the data fields must be regularly updated; using unlocked tags is often a more convenient option. Examples of RFID hacking include the recording of data on RFID-based price tags, which hackers can then upload to tags of other items, and the disabling of car antitheft devices through the use of a cloner to capture an encrypted RFID signal and a computer to crack it. "The world of RFID is like the Internet in its early stages," explains RSA Labs research manager Ari Juels. "Nobody thought about building security features into the Internet in advance, and now we're paying for it in viruses and other attacks. We're likely to see the same thing with RFIDs." Next-generation, RFID-equipped digital passports will reportedly have unbreakable encryption, but Juels thinks a brute-force attack could compromise the data since the encryption keys rely on passport numbers and birthdates that are structured and guessable. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 19, 2006.

Female Tech Researchers Are No Drop-Outs
Silicon Republic (05/17/06) Larkin, Elaine

Women studying subjects such as science, engineering, and technology are less likely to drop out than their counterparts in humanities and social sciences, according to the report on Women in Science and Technology (WiST)--The Business Perspective. Presented at a conference in Vienna this week, the report found that women and men have the same drop-out rate in science and engineering. "This means that the number of women entering science and technology education is relatively low compared to other areas but within the academic setting the pipeline does not leak as much in the hard sciences as it does in the social sciences and the humanities," says the report. Women are not pursuing studies in science and technology in larger numbers because they do not want to work in isolation or in environments that are overly male, the study suggests. They are also looking for professions that can accommodate their desire to have a life away from their job. The Austrian EU Presidency and the European Commission organized the conference, which is aimed at boosting the number of women in the science and technology industry. "If we don't create a fairer system where we all can participate equally we lock out a huge pool of talent and potential that we just can't afford to lose," said Janez Potocnik, European Science and Research Commissioner. For information on ACM's Committee on Women and Computing, visit http://women.acm.org Click Here to View Full Article

NCWIT/NSF Town Hall: IT Innovation and the Role of Diversity
Black Engineer (05/17/06) Deen, Lango

U.S. corporations are sabotaging themselves by ignoring a large chunk of the talent pool, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a growing coalition of corporations, government agencies, universities, and nonprofits advocating a more representative workforce. NCWIT founder and CEO Lucinda Sanders and University of Oregon computer science professor Jan Cuny shared their thoughts on the relationship between diversity and competitiveness in a recent interview. Cuny also heads the NSF's Broadening Participation in Computing Initiative, which recently partnered with the NCWIT to launch an Innovation Town Hall meeting at the National Academy of Engineering. NCWIT has formed an alliance of academic institutions focused on attracting more women to IT and faculty advancement. Cuny argues that the key to advancing women and minorities in IT is collaboration, and that the various organizations promoting participation among women, Hispanics, Native Americans, and other groups must coordinate their efforts with each other. Women often suffer from a confidence problem when competing with men in a professional setting, Sanders says, also noting the conflict between work and family, though she admits that many corporations are restructuring IT careers to make them more flexible and conducive to women with families. While the number of students pursuing degrees in computing has gone down dramatically in recently, Sanders eschews the myth that computing is an ailing profession, citing the recent ACM study on offshoring that found that there are more tech jobs today than at the height of the dot-com boom. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 17, 2006.

Women's Career Choices Influenced More by Culture Than Biology
Penn State Live (05/16/06)

Ignoring the diversity of the workforce, U.S. IT companies stubbornly cling to blanket policies for all workers, particularly women, according to Eileen Trauth, professor of information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University. "Policy makers, educators, managers need to recognize that you can't generalize to all women," said Trauth. "There is far too much variation in the paths that women take for anyone to assume that women's career motivations are the same, their methods of balancing work and family are the same, or their responses to motherhood are the same." Trauth interviewed 167 female IT professionals in the United States, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and presented her findings at the recent 2006 ACM conference on computer-personnel research. Trauth found that a host of factors, including gender stereotypes, societal messages, and family dynamics can affect a woman's career choice. She also found that women respond differently to stereotypes of motherhood, career, and gender, reinforcing her conviction that blanket policies ignore the complexities of female workers. "What would be inappropriate is to look at a young woman and presume that she will get married, or that she will have children, or that she will leave the workforce if she does have children," Trauth said. "Organizations shouldn't have HR policies based on gender stereotypes because people are motivated by different things--salary, job security, flexible work schedules." Trauth, who co-authored the paper with PSU doctoral students Jeria Quesenberry and Haiyan Huang, suggests that stereotyping could be the reason why women's participation in IT fell from 41 percent in 1996 to 32.4 percent in 2004. For information on ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://women.acm.org. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 12, 2006.

From Geek to Chic: The Changing Face of Computing
Florida State University (05/11/06) Elish, Jill

Professors from 10 universities have formed the Students and Technology in Academia, Research, and Service (STARS) Alliance to promote diversity in IT. The consortium recently received a $2 million grant from the NSF to recruit a diverse body of students to pursue college degrees in IT, computer science, and other fields related to computing. "We want to encourage more people--particularly women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities--to pursue careers in computer science and information technology," said Larry Dennis, dean of the College of Information at Florida State University. Other FSU professors agree that nurturing the IT workforce is a matter of vital national importance, and that diversity is essential for the future of IT in the United States. With fewer highly skilled foreigners coming to the United States and the demographic trend of declining white male representation in the workforce, women and other groups have an unprecedented opportunity to claim their share of the 1.5 million IT and computing jobs projected to be created by 2012, according to FSU research associate Anthony Chow. The perception that computing is the sole province of white, male nerds is a serious obstacle to recruiting a diverse group of students, and the STARS Alliance is trying to give the field an image makeover. The consortium will hold up role models in industry to report market trends and debunk the myths that plague computing, such as the assumption that men are superior at solving technical problems. The Star Alliance will create and maintain a Web site promoting, among other things, the Student Leadership Corps, which will support a variety of initiatives, including peer mentoring, research opportunities, community involvement, and professional development. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 10, 2006.

Engineered by Women, for Girls
Connect for Kids (05/08/06) Rafferty, Heidi Russell

Since 1981, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has run the FEMME program, a summer learning experience designed to encourage inner-city girls to pursue careers in engineering, science, and IT. With men accounting for 80 percent of today's engineers, and the affluent far more likely to succeed in technical fields, FEMME director Suzanne Heyman says the program's goal is to help close the gap for underprivileged girls. While most girls usually abandon high-level math and science classes in the ninth grade, Heyman and her fellow instructors, most of whom are women, hope to immerse their students in the sophisticated math and science concepts at a young age so that they will be second nature by the time the girls reach college. Instructors discuss workplace gender issues and try to facilitate an honest dialogue about the pros and cons of various careers. The multi-year program is divided into two groups: the FEMME program, a day camp for fourth through eighth grade girls, and the FEMME Academy, a three-week residential program for ninth graders. NJIT then offers a co-ed college preparatory program for engineering for 10th through 12th graders. Each grade level dives into a different topic in depth: fourth graders study environmental engineering; fifth graders study aeronautical engineering; and sixth graders concentrate on mechanical engineering. The mechanical engineering course is a favorite among the students because they take a trip to an amusement park to observe the roller coasters and see the principles they have learned in motion. The seventh graders study chemical engineering, where they watch how hair dye is made at the L'Oreal factory. Eighth graders study biomedical engineering, one of the most popular engineering disciplines among females because it offers the clearest societal impact, and ninth graders study electrical and computer engineering. For information on ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://women.acm.org Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 5, 2006.

Women in IT: Catherine Jaktman
Computerworld Australia (05/01/06) McConnachie, Dahna

Females are not being encouraged enough to pursue careers in IT, according to Dr. Catherine Jaktman, vice president of the Australian Computer Society, in an interview with Computerworld. The reputation of IT remains that of being an industry for geeks, says Jaktman, who has a BA in Mathematics, an MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Computer Science Engineering. "There needs to be more women working in IT to encourage girls to enter it," she adds. Jaktman says she does not know whether she chose IT because she was interested in technology, or whether she believed it would present opportunities to work in different industries and countries. In addition to Australia, she has worked in Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United States, where her first job was a programming position with a large insurance company in Boston, followed by a programming position at a major bank in the city. Jaktman says she was good in math and science, and was encouraged to become a nurse or a teacher. She studied math at Northeastern University in Boston, and when the school launched a computer science program math students were encouraged to join the program. Jaktman, who wants to be a role model for women in the industry, says her position at ACS gives her more of an opportunity to reach out to young Australians who may be interested in IT. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, May 3, 2006.

Mentoring Is Key to Drawing Girls to High-Tech Field, Good Jobs
San Jose Mercury News (CA) (05/02/06) Horan, Jeanette

Although women comprise 50 percent of the workforce and 30 percent of physicians and attorneys, less than 10 percent of women are engineers, writes Jeanette Horan, IBM's senior location executive at Silicon Valley. However, she writes that "I believe that we are now at a tipping point for women of all ages in technology," adding that the opportunity for a larger number of women to have successful engineering careers is greater now than previously. Horan explains that this is because technology firms badly need skilled employees. She thinks that with the right encouragement, young women will go after analytic subjects in school and technical careers. She says there are an increasing number of corporate measures directed at enabling female students in kindergarten through the 12th grade to evolve academically, and to offer girls the skills they need to get high-paying technical jobs. "And enlightened companies will create succession plans for women at the top and throughout the employee ranks," Horan writes. She relates how Silicon Valley's MentorNet teams undergraduate and post-doctorate students studying engineering and science with mentors from academia, government, and industry, reaching over 12,000 students from 100 higher education institutions. Horan adds that IBM has 400 volunteer mentors linked with MentorNet. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, April 28, 2006.

Need More Engineers? Recruit Women
San Jose Mercury News (CA) (04/27/06) Wei, Belle

The United States produces 60,000 engineers per year, compared with 350,000 produced by India and 600,000 produced by China. President Bush recently visited Silicon Valley to address this disturbing gap, which threatens America's ability to remain competitive technologically, writes Belle Wei, dean of the college of engineering at San Jose State University. Bush and the Democratic Innovation Agenda are proposing to close the engineering gap with a plan that includes funding for advanced placement science and math teachers and grants and scholarships to needy students in science and engineering programs. While this initiative should be commended, it does nothing to encourage more women to become engineers. Women, the largest U.S. demographic group, remain a largely untapped resource for engineering, with just 0.5 percent of female freshman students majoring in engineering or computer science in 2003, compared with 4.25 percent in the early 1980s. "Overall interest in computer science among women fell 80 percent between 1998 and 2004, and 93 percent since its peak in 1982," says UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute. The best way to attract more female engineering students is to show them that the field can be applied in ways that are useful to them and to the rest of society--it should be stressed, for example, that engineering has applications in the arts, education, and saving lives. This is important because, according to a Carnegie Mellon study, female students find computing more attractive when it is taught in a manner that emphasizes its social applications. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, April 26, 2006.

Wanted: Girls Interested in Computers
Seacoast (04/24/06) Kane, Amy

For three years running, Norm Messa has not had a single female student in the high school programming classes that he teaches at the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter. To address the problem at its source, Messa has begun hosting free game programming nights for middle school girls, hoping to catch them at a time when many girls are still undecided about math and science. Messa notes that despite media reports heralding the decline of the technology sector, the industry is actually quite healthy and even growing. "Of the 10 fastest growing jobs, five are in health care and five are in IT," he said. "You have to be good at it, but the payoff is immense." Messa walked the students through a tutorial for Gamemaker and had them program a simple maze game. The girls enjoyed editing the games, creating their own characters, and telling stories, aligning with Carnegie Mellon researcher Caitlyn Kelleher's theory that girls are more interested in the applications of technology than they are in the technology itself. Kelleher is developing the next version of Alice, an object-oriented Java platform featuring elements from Electronic Arts' "The Sims," the most popular computer game of all time. After a short instruction session, the girls got to try their hands at Alice, building worlds and creating characters to tell stories while still learning some of the basics of programming in a non-threatening environment. "The language in these is consistent with programming language, but it's not intimidating," Messa said. "They are learning to think procedurally and algorithmically." Messa still looks for more ways to kindle female interest in technology, and looks forward to a new free educational program called Kids Programming Language. For information about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://women.acm.org Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, April 17, 2006.

Q&A: Gambling on Women Technologists in Las Vegas
Computerworld (04/14/06) Hoffman, Thomas

The question of whether women have broken the glass ceiling in information technology would have to be answered on a company-by-company basis, says Laura Fucci, vice president and CTO of MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, in an interview with Computerworld. "I'm not sure how much of this is about the company and how much of it is about the women and how they've been brought up, how they express themselves, whether they have been taught to hold themselves back, etc.," says Fucci. Nonetheless, Fucci wants to see more young women pursue careers in IT, and she has played a key role in the launch of the Las Vegas chapter of Women in Technology International (WITI). The Las Vegas group, which has attracted 50 members through word-of-mouth promotion, is scheduled to hold its first meeting on May 3 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino during the Interop 2006 conference. The initial gathering will focus on creating a local network for achieving common goals of growth and development, while a June 7 meeting at Southern Nevada Community College will be devoted to gathering ideas on how to get young girls interested in IT. Fucci sees opportunities in mentoring and acting as role models, internships, and scholarships. She says the perception that IT is for geeks has to be changed. "What I hear is that by the time girls hit high school, it's already too late to change those perceptions," says Fucci. For information about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://women.acm.org Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, April 12, 2006.

Computing Women Seek to Dispel 'Geek Mythology'
Laboratorytalk (04/10/06)

To promote careers in computer science among female students at regional middle and high schools, members of the Women in Computing at Indiana University developed the Just Be incentive program. Just Be, a student-run, interactive program developed principally by graduate students Katie Siek and Amanda Stephano, drew its inspiration from Roadshow, a program with a similar aim at Carnegie Mellon University. Through the program, Indiana faculty, students, and researchers will speak at area schools about their inspiration for studying IT, and interact with the audience with a quiz aimed at dispelling popular myths about computing that often discourage women from majoring in technical fields. "When we first meet with the kids, we ask them to close their eyes and describe what they see when they imagine a computer professional at work," said Siek. "They usually conjure up images of a male, socially-challenged nerd working in isolation at a computer." The presenters then show them pictures of actual computing professionals both at work and in their free time to demonstrate that they can be normal people, too. Siek, a doctoral student in computer science, traveled to Purdue University to explain the program, and Purdue is now putting together a similar initiative. Stephano, who is working toward master's degrees in computer science and human-computer interaction design, said that Just Be aims to present a positive image of computing to boys and girls alike. To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 31, 2006.

Women Underrepresented in IT
Minnesota Daily (03/30/06) Aquino, Jeannine

The University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology has stepped up its efforts to attract more women to its science programs, according to Peter Hudleston, associate dean for student affairs of the department. A new hire will work with admissions and also focuses on recruiting women, says Hudleston. The Institute of Technology Center for Education already offers the "Exploring Careers in Engineering and Physical Science" program, which gives high school girls the opportunity to meet science majors at the university over the course of a week. The efforts come at a time when the number of women studying engineering at the Institute of Technology is on the decline. "The percentage here [in the Institute of Technology] and nationally was 20 percent five years ago," says Hudleston, adding that the number had fallen to 17 percent in the fall of 2004 and to 15.3 percent this year. Only 7 percent of women at the Institute of Technology study electrical engineering, and the figure includes junior Sara Nasiri-Amini, who had concerns about the low number of women in science programs. "I thought maybe I'm picking the wrong major because no other girls were here," says Nasiri-Amini, who ultimately decided that she would continue studying what she enjoyed. For information on the activities of ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, go to http://acm.women.org Click Here to View Full Article

CMU Uses Game Maker's Characters to Interest Girls in Computer Programming
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (03/29/06) Roth, Mark

Electronic Arts has agreed to allow Carnegie Mellon University to use the animation for characters in "The Sims" to teach computer programming in a more appealing and less technical fashion. In the "Alice" course, students will be able to manipulate animated figures on a computer rather than simply writing code, which Carnegie Mellon says should increase interest in computer science among women and others who might not otherwise consider the field. When Carnegie Mellon first developed the Alice program a decade ago, computer science professor Randy Pausch admits that the characters were a little primitive, but he said that they were "the best we could make with our own hands. Our characters are a little robotic, while 'The Sims' are literally state of the art." Programs such as Alice are intended to curb the overall decline in interest in computer science among students, and particularly among women. The number of freshmen interested in majoring in computer science has dropped more than 60 percent in four years, and the proportion of computer science degrees awarded to women has fallen below 30 percent. Caitlin Kelleher, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon, has modified the Alice program, which is currently used in 113 colleges and at least as many high schools, to appeal to the storytelling instincts of girls. Kelleher identifies middle school as the crucial time when many girls form their opinions about math and science, and says that couching programming in the context of telling a story is a more palatable way to introduce girls to computer science. Kelleher has created new motions in the Alice characters to prompt students to develop new story lines. The addition of the Sims animations will greatly magnify that process. Steve Seabolt of Electronic Arts says the company undertook the program out of "enlightened self-interest," as it hopes to see more qualified women and minorities in the video game field. For information on the activities of ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, go to http://acm.women.org Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 22, 2006.

Diversity Still an Elusive Goal in IT, Other Tech Fields
Wisconsin Technology Network (03/20/06) Vanden Plas, Joe

While the participation of women, Hispanics, and blacks in IT has grown in recent years, it still lags well behind their proportions of the population. The participation of women in IT grew from 12 percent to 25 percent from 1980 to 2000, while the percentage of blacks rose 2.6 to 6.9 and Hispanics from 2.0 to 3.2 in the same period, according to the National Science Board (NSB). While the more technical fields of systems administration, network engineering, and desktop support are frequently still dominated by men, women have gained entry into IT in the areas of applications development, academic technology support, and training. The NSB found that math and science test scores of K-12 students have been inconsistent, and that the gap between the best and worse performers only widens over time. The Bush administration's American Competitiveness Initiative calls for the influx of 30,000 math and science teachers taken from industry and training for 70,000 educators to teach advanced placement math and science classes. It is hoped that the additional math and science training in K-12 education will translate into greater enrollment in college programs, in which women and minorities are typically underrepresented. Jennifer Sheridan, executive and research director of the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute at UW-Madison, says, "I know that a lot of businesses are very critical of some of the top universities for not producing a diversified work force out of their science and engineering departments." Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 13, 2006.

Gadget Girls and Boys With Their Toys: How to Attract and Keep More Women in Engineering
University of Edinburgh (03/09/06)

A recent study sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council and conducted by the University of Edinburgh's Dr. Wendy Faulkner sought to investigate whether engineering workplaces are friendlier to and more supportive of men than women, based on interviews with and/or observation of 66 male and female engineering professionals covering a broad spectrum of disciplines and industrial sectors. The results of the study demonstrate that, though governments and industry have made significant progress in tapping women for engineering jobs, further improvements in both the recruitment and retention of female engineers are necessary. The engineering industry's lack of appeal to women is partly due to a persistent stereotype: The engineer as a technologically adept but socially unskilled male, which is not a reflection of reality, according to Faulkner's study. To combat this image problem, it is recommended that efforts to recruit more women focus on "normalizing" engineering as a career choice for women in order to eliminate the assumption by people both inside and outside the field that "the engineer" will be a man; recruitment campaigns that do not appeal to gender stereotypes, but do appeal to men and women's shared interest in math, science, and technology; and the promotion of engineering as a technical as well as social field. To retain more female as well as male engineers, good practice at both the university and the workplace must be sustained and promoted. Seemingly trivial aspects of workplace culture can discourage women's sense of belonging: Such factors include coarse and offensive humor, male-oriented routines for greeting and addressing each other, gender exclusive language and social circles, women's tendency to physically stand out in mostly male workplaces so that their engineering skills are de-emphasized, and sexual harassment and/or flirting. Sustained and sensitive diversity training backed by senior management can help both male and female engineers fight gender-discriminating workplace cultures. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 8, 2006.

Computers Aren't Just for the Guys
Times of Trenton (03/04/06) Landau, Elizabeth

Princeton Engineering School Dean Maria Klawe, former president of ACM, says the perception of computers as being toys for boys and the media image of computer scientists as being geeks are not the only reasons why fewer women are studying computer science today. Klawe also takes issue with the way the subject matter is taught. For example, Klawe says a curriculum of computing applications to video and sound files could focus less on the technical nature of coding language. "The way that computer science courses are set up focuses on the technical intricacies of computing rather than what computing is good for," says Klawe, adding that women want to know how they can apply such knowledge. Klawe is an advocate of the "pairs programming" teaching approach, in which students work in pairs--one as the program driver and the other as the navigator who reads along and notes errors--and switch roles every half hour. She believes pairs programming would appeal more to female students than working on assignments individually. Klawe adds that having women combine computer science studies with a major in art, music, or psychology is another way to boost the female presence in the field. Klawe says the number of women in computer science has plummeted from 30 percent to 15 percent over the past 25 years. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 3, 2006.

Career Watch: Lucy Sanders
Computerworld (02/27/06) P. 45; Hoffman, Thomas

While the Labor Department projects that technology-related jobs will increase by more than 2 million by 2012, the proportion of women in IT has dropped 18.5 percent in the last eight years. Cisco has partnered with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to help reverse this trend. NCWIT CEO Lucy Sanders spoke in a recent interview about Cisco and NCWIT's attempts to boost opportunities and awareness for women in technology. Women hold about 29 percent of the U.S. technology jobs, though that number is declining, while the enrollment of both men and women in computer science programs in colleges and universities has fallen 18 percent, and just 15 percent of high school students are taking the computer science advanced placement test. Sanders says that NCWIT and Cisco are working actively to boost awareness by promoting the viability of technology as a career to parents and educators, attempting to dispel the widely held myths that a career in technology equates to a life of social isolation and meaninglessness. "I know firsthand that it's an exciting and creative and socially relevant career," said Sanders. CIOs at the world's best companies report directly to the CEO, according to the Hackett Group, noting that the elevation of technology to a top strategic priority is a key factor separating the average company from the world-class company. The Hackett Group reports that IT departments are managed centrally at 67 percent of world-class companies, where managers and staffers are also far more likely to have advanced degrees than their counterparts at typical companies. While the CIO serves on the primary management committee in just 56 percent of average companies, the CIO has a seat at the table in 100 percent of world-class companies. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, March 1, 2006.

IT Proves to Be a Turnoff for Women
New Zealand Herald (02/28/06) Hembry, Owen

The perception of information technology being an industry not only for males, but for geeks as well, is keeping many young women from pursuing IT careers, according to women connected to the recent Computing Women Congress in New Zealand. Sydney consultant Maggie Alexander says there were more women filling information, communication, and technology roles in Australia when she began her career in IT 25 years ago than there are today. Young girls have few role models in IT, and many young women now believe science and technology courses are too difficult for them, says Alexander. "They often don't get the right information from their schools about the kind of careers and variety of careers there are in IT," adds Alexander. Annika Hinze, organizer of the congress and a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Waikato, also takes issue with the way IT is marketed to young women. "It's the environment that is presented in the sense of, 'Oh, the guys are really good at this,' so women get the feeling that they are not wanted there [and] this is not for them," says Hinze. At Waikato, the site of the gathering, women represent about 25 percent of computer science students. Statistics New Zealand figures show that women account for 42 percent of the IT workforce, but the number includes 82 percent and 72 percent of workers in data entry and desktop publishing positions, respectively. For information of ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, February 24, 2006.

Seminar's Aim: Engineering Diversity
EE Times (02/20/06)No. 1411, P. 6; Markey, Eileen

Invoking noted black inventors of the past, Wilber Murdock led a seminar in January at the Schomberg Center for Research on Black Culture in New York to broadcast the message that the field of engineering needs the contributions of black thinkers and innovators. With black participation in engineering at just above 3 percent, Murdock explained to the overcapacity crowd that their ideas are essential to the advancement of science, and that technology will be more appealing to black people if it is relevant to their experience. He argued that responsibility and individual contributions are essential to sustaining the United States' competitive advantage in science and technology. "Without each one of you young men and young women, the technology race for 'team America' will be over." Noting the disconcerting incarceration rate of black Americans, Murdock called for a paradigm shift, supported by initiatives such as his new curriculum, the Science of Disruptive Technologies Business Innovation Systems, which attempts to distill the science of innovation into a child-friendly format. Murdock exchanges the often stilted conventional school program for a fun, interactive approach that convinces children that they are capable of inventing, drawing on "the science of rap music and sports." Jerry Hultin, president of Brooklyn's Polytechnic University, took the stage at the seminar and called on the audience for ideas for inventions. Hultin believes that the best ways to capture the attention of members of a young audience are to engage them in a hands-on activity and to demonstrate the practical applications of science. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, February 17, 2006.

Fewer Females in Computer Science
Purdue Exponent (02/15/06) Weibel, Kristin

Purdue University's computer science department has implemented a few changes in order to attract more female students to its program. The department has created a Recruiting Committee Task Force to combat the popular stereotype of computer scientists being nerds with pocket protectors and poor social skills. The university plans to sponsor visits to high schools in Indiana to discuss the computer science program. The task force also plans to stress how varied careers are for people who obtain technical degrees. The department sponsors the Computer Science Women's Network, which offers programs that allow for networking opportunities with IT professionals, encourages female students to participate in Women in Science Programs, and has overhauled its marketing strategy. The changes come at a time when the number of female undergraduate students enrolled as computer science majors at Purdue has fallen 12 percent since the 1990-1991 school year, and Susanne Hambrusch, head of the computer science department, says the stereotype of computer scientists does not help. There are only four females in this year's freshman class of 155 students. Women account for just 6 percent of undergraduate computer science majors, says Hambrusch. For information about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women Click Here to View Full Article - Web Link to Publication Homepage

Computing Congress Offers Role Models and Networks
Fairfax New Zealand (02/15/06) Hinze, Annika

The Computing Women Congress (CWC) is underway at Waikato University in New Zealand, and female high school students from New Zealand and Austria are scheduled to present projects Wednesday during a special day for students. Through CWC, the young women have gained a better understanding of what it is like to be a computer science student. CWC is in its second year, organized by Waikato University in an effort to introduce young women to professionals in academia and the information technology industry. The event gives women an opportunity to find role models among the many graduate students, Ph.D. candidates, lecturers, artists, programmers, and analysts who attend the gathering. The women have an opportunity to get to know IT professionals, academics, and students and form networks with them, which could inspire them to pursue a technology-related career. CWC draws women from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the United States to attend and present courses on topics ranging from the Semantic Web and programming in Java to computer interfaces for the disabled and online theater performances. Click Here to View Full Article - Web Link May Require Free Registration

.From ACM's TechNews, February 15, 2006.

Women Engineers Share Advice
Daily Princetonian (02/13/06) Mu, Euphemia

Princeton University recently hosted the Women in Science and Engineering Conference, a day-long, inter-university forum featuring leadership workshops, panels on career choices, and advice on how to balance a career and family. "We all thought that a lot of the issues discussed in the leadership workshops are relevant to women," said Melissa Carroll, a graduate student in computer science and neuroscience at the university. "These women often don't have people to talk to." The conference was created to promote discussion and provide networking opportunities for female undergraduate and graduate students. Several leadership workshops were held on time management skills, negotiation skills, methods of dealing with difficult people, and the characteristics of a successful leader. The workshop discussions were moderated by professors Jennifer Rexford, Kyle Vanderlick, Catherine Peters, and former ACM president Maria Klawe. Klawe led the workshop on characteristics of a successful leader, which include being an attentive listener, never losing sight of the big picture, encouraging others to follow, and communicating effectively. "The first rule of success is to fail openly and often," said Klawe. "If you don't fail often, you are not setting your standards high enough." The conference was attended mostly by women, and sponsored by the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group. For information on ACM's Committee on Women and Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, February 8, 2006.

Princeton Dean: Comp Sci Field Needs Women
Brown and White (02/05/06) Cohen, Clark

Princeton University Dean of Engineering Maria Klawe warned against the negative myths and stereotypes that discourage women from pursuing computer science in her recent speech, "Gender, Lies and Video Games: the Truth about Females and Computing." Klawe, a former president of ACM, hopes to boost female participation in computer science by helping women overcome the myths that computers are built for men and that women are inherently less capable of understanding technology. While women do spend more time on the Internet than men, the misguided perception that computer scientists toil endlessly at an isolated terminal has curtailed female enrollment in computer science courses and kept women out of computing careers. Further, Klawe notes, "computer science majors are snatched up first by employers, and they are being paid $10,000 more starting than many other majors looking for work." Tracing the disparity in interest back to adolescence, video games shoulder much of the blame for captivating the attention of boys, leaving girls essentially uninterested. High schools teachers often favor boys in computer science courses, inviting them to help teach the class while ignoring the girls. Before they get to college, women show a preference for disciplines such as the arts and psychology, while boys gravitate more toward computer science, physics, and engineering. Klawe hopes to draw more women to computing with humanizing elements such as games, media, and outreach programs, placing an emphasis on the applications of computing, rather than the technical aspects of programming. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, February 10, 2006.

The 'Mother' of the Internet
Investor's Business Daily (02/09/06) P. A4; Barlas, Peter

Radia Perlman says when she proposed a solution for routing information to a group of vendors in the mid 1970s, she was largely ignored, due mainly to her gender. But Perlman, now a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, was not to be deterred. Though she frequently found her audiences dismissive over the years, Perlman's spanning tree algorithm, which helps direct network traffic, became so embedded in the Internet's structure that she has been dubbed the "Mother of the Internet." Any time a user searches through an engine such as Google, Perlman's algorithm forms a sort of road map to navigate the Internet. "What Radia did was to put the basic traffic rules into place so it was possible to drive from one point to another without hopelessly getting lost or driving in circles," said Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos. Perlman attended MIT and took her first paying job teaching programming to children at one of the school's labs. She has always taken a mathematical approach to linking information among computers, describing concrete numbers as a way to cut through the syntactical denseness of computer language. A manager for Digital Equipment watched Perlman's vendor presentation, and offered her a job. Starting at Digital in 1980, she immediately solved the information exchange problem that had confounded the engineering team for months. Despite her field experience, Perlman continued her education and earned a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT in 1988. She has worked at Novell and then Sun, where she developed software that shored up the routing of simple multicast systems, keeping a site running when it is bombarded by traffic. For the past few years Perlman has also taught at the University of Washington and Harvard, as well as written articles and books. For information about ACM's Committee on Women and Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, January 23, 2006.

"Where Are the Women in IT?"
Processor (01/20/06) Vol. 28, No. 3, P. 1; Chickowski, Ericka

A lack of women in IT--and an even more pronounced lack of effort to enlist women in IT--spurred the creation of the National Center for Women in IT (NCWIT), an organization based out of the University of Colorado; NCWIT founder Lucy Sanders says the ultimate goal of the organization is to improve the recruitment of women into the IT field so much that NCWIT eventually becomes redundant. She says the group is currently trying to do this while simultaneously collating industry statistics, which are hard to come by partly because individual companies are reluctant to publicly disclose information about their affirmative action hiring, especially when it is less than admirable. IT industry veteran Meryll Larkin observes that women's job prospects seem to ebb and flow with the market, and during the lean times hiring managers may unconsciously discriminate against women because of their emphasis on maintaining strong IT teams, an attitude that tends to favor male candidates if they more closely resemble the other team members. If there is any difference between how men and women perform in IT teams, Larkin reasons that women exhibit more patience during communication. Dawn Fitzgerald, president of the Association for Women in Computing's Houston chapter, cites the importance of networking, not just as a way for women to brainstorm ideas or find jobs outside their company, but to receive validation for their career choice. She says women are often fraught with self-doubt and are more likely to attribute success on the job to group effort, and networking with other women can help them improve their self-promotion by putting their contributions in perspective. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, January 11, 2006.

"Wanted: Female Computer-Science Students"
Chronicle of Higher Education (01/13/06) Vol. 52, No. 19, P. A35; Carlson, Scott

Debate is brewing over how to account for the shrinkage of computer science enrollments in colleges, particularly among women. One theory posits that computer science programs are unsuited for women and their style of learning, but some successful women discount this suggestion, arguing instead for more social support for women in the field, reinforced by the elimination of gender-based discrimination by peers and parents. Since the publication of "Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing," which concluded that girls' motivation for learning computer science is more application-oriented than boys, Carnegie Mellon University has changed its admissions policy to emphasize ambition, high grades, and leadership skills rather than prior programming experience. Carnegie-Mellon computer science professor Lenore Blum has also established Women@SCS, a program that provides role models and mentoring services for female computer science students. Blum does not agree that there are innate gender differences between men and women, and believes re-orienting the curriculum for women will only marginalize them. Meanwhile, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County founded the Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) to provide a support structure for female students that attempts to mitigate some of the more discouraging factors that can prey on them, such as the perception of computer professionals as geeky and socially maladroit, and gender discrimination that often starts as early as middle school. CWIT executive director Claudia Morrell is developing extracurricular programs designed to stimulate interest in science and technology among middle-school girls as well as advise parents on how to nurture this interest. Click Here to View Full Article (Access to the full article is available to paid subscribers only.)

.From ACM's TechNews, December 16, 2005.

"Women Desert IT in Droves"
VNUNet (12/14/05); Thomson, Iain

Hudson UK reports that nearly two-thirds of women working in IT have left or are about to leave the field, with about 88 percent of women saying they disliked the nine-to-five routine, and 43 percent saying they did not expect to be working a full time nine-to-five routine by 2010. More than half of the women surveyed say they are frustrated with the lack of flexible schedules, over three quarters are angry that they cannot work from home, and over half feel frustrated at the lack of career prospects for women in the industry. Employers know there is a problem, but many have been reluctant to come up with a solution. "Many women have tasted corporate life and have decided that there are better ways of making their mark on the world than following the traditional working model set before them," says Hudson UK IT director Paul Taylor. Nearly 70 percent of employers admit they would have staffing problems if women left the profession, but just 6 percent have come up with a recruitment strategy for hiring more women. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, November 11, 2005.

"IBM Fostering Female Engineers"
Nikkei Weekly (10/31/05) Vol. 43, No. 2207, P. 21; Sato, Makoto

IBM Japan has seen the percentage of women that make up its workforce rise 4 percent over the past seven years to around 17 percent. A trailblazer in offering a female-friendly workplace environment, IBM Japan in 1998 launched the Japan Women's Council to help maximize their skills on the jobs, identify barriers to advancement and offer solutions, and create plans to develop and nurture women. The success of IBM Japan is occurring in a nation where only 14.4 percent of science and engineering graduates are women, according to a report in September by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of all 30 OECD members, Japan ranks last. Nonetheless, IBM Japan knows that it must continue to be flexible in its approach to women as the 2007 problem looms, in which there is expected to be a chronic shortage of engineers due to the retirement of the baby boomers. Since 1998, IBM Japan has paid women while they trained and took correspondence courses, even while on child-care leave. "We need to promote a part-time work system, under which an employee is able to work for only 30-50 percent of the usual hours," suggests IBM Japan President Takuma Otoshi. "We have to seriously consider means to prevent resignations and bring more women into directorship positions."

.From ACM's TechNews, January 13, 2006.

"Entrepreneur Frances Queen Spreads the Word About Women in IT"
LocalTechWire.com (01/13/06); Quirk, Ben

Frances Queen grew up in an era when women were discouraged from pursuing math and engineering, and she opted instead for married life upon graduating from college, despite her natural aptitude for those subjects. Later, as a single parent in her 30s, Queen went back to school, earning her associate degree and then a B.S. in computer-based business. She reinvented herself in the IT industry, started her own company in 2000, and her company was recently recognized by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce for excellence in IT. Queen has worked actively to debunk the mentality that delayed her entry into IT, having helped found the Charlotte chapter of Women in Science and Engineering, for which she now serves as vice chair. "There are not enough women in IT, science, or technology, and I never had a female mentor," said Queen. "I want to change all that for younger women." Queen is also concerned about the declining interest in IT among young American men. The shortage of U.S. workers has led Queen to court Indian talent to fill the positions in her own company. Queen laments that despite all the wonderful things about IT, there is simply a lack of interest in math and science among U.S. students that begins in primary school. Queen says diversifying her company's business model enabled her to survive the lean years of 2001 and 2002, when large companies were cutting IT staff, but her revenues have been doubling annually since, indicating that there is no shortage of demand for IT positions. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, October 31, 2005

"Bring on the Geekettes"
Maclean's (10/25/05); Bourette, Susan

New research continues to support the belief that environment is more likely to determine the success of an individual in math and sciences than chromosomes. Although research presented at the American Sociological Association meeting in Philadelphia in August showed women were well represented in the fields of health and education, experts believe girls would pursue science-related fields more if it were stressed to them that science is another practical way to help people. As a result, over the past decade educators have worked to fine-tune the way they teach and their curriculum to ensure that girls continue to remain interested in science. Universities are setting up multidisciplinary programs that allow students to take hard science courses as well as other subjects. In Ontario, engineering programs have added biology, which is a popular subject among girls, to the list of course options, and they are also promoting the humanistic values of engineering to high school students. Maria Klawe, dean of engineering at Princeton University and a past president of ACM, played a key role in boosting the number of female computer science degrees at the University of British Columbia from 22% five years ago to 42% for combined biology and computer science degrees today. "If you really want to change the world, you've got to consider a career in computer science," says Klawe, who oversees a department that has a first-year class that is 32% female. Click Here to View Full Article

.From ACM's TechNews, October 28, 2005

"Women Valued for Technology Roles"
BBC News (10/28/05)

The overall prize at the first Blackberry Women and Technology Awards went to Jackie Edwards, a lecturer at De Montfort University, for her use of a robotic dog to generate enthusiasm for careers in IT and bridge the gender gap by making technology more approachable. The awards were held in London partially to address the disparity between the UK's overall workforce, half of which is made up of women, and the IT workforce, where women's participation has dropped to 21 percent. The awards will be held again next year, and received praise from Glenda Stone, who heads Aurora, a professional women's networking and advocacy organization. "They reinforce the reality that women make a significant contribution to technology and use technology in every aspect of their personal and business lives," Stone said. MSN's Gillian Kent, who has campaigned for child protection online, was also recognized, as was Accenture, which was selected as the company that best advances women in technology. IBM's Sue McDougal was recognized as the best female role model in technology. A recent report issued by DTI identified the importance of female role models and mentors, citing as the principle reasons why women leave technology professions in their 40s as an imbalance between their work and personal lives and a widespread culture that undervalues women's skills. Click Here to View Full Article

"Festival Promotes High School Females' Interest in Math, Sciences"
The Daily Orange (10/24/05); Hicken, Melanie

Organizers of the seventh annual Sonia Kovalevsky festival at Syracuse University are calling the Saturday event a success. Named after the first female to receive a doctorate in mathematics, the festival is designed to encourage local high school girls who have an interest in math or science that they can excel in such fields. The festival attracted 35 girls, who had an opportunity to attend two of five morning workshops led by female professors in math, science, computer science, and engineering, such as "Biometrics: Recognition of Humans Through Faces," facilitated by Dr. Lisa Osadciw and Yanjun Yan. The workshops were interactive in that the girls were given problems to solve that required critical thinking. In the afternoon, the professors participated in a panel discussion, which gave the girls a chance to learn about various fields and their career opportunities. "The festival is a great way to let the girls and their families know that [these careers] are an option," says Marjory Baruch, an adjunct professor in computer science who organized the festival. The SU mathematics department and the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science hosted the event, which was funded by SU and the Technology Alliance for Central New York. Click Here to View Full Article

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