NCWIT's 'Jam Packed' Practices Workshop
Every year, NCWIT has two national meetings. Last week (November 17th and 18th), we held our inaugural NCWIT Practices Workshop, coincident with our Alliance meetings, at Carnegie Mellon University. We had most of our meetings in Newell Simon Hall, a beautiful building home to the university's School of Computer Science, packed with computing students and hi-tech gadgets. The building directory is a computerized interface, with a robotic-looking face that talks to you when you come in – you can type in questions and it tells you the answers. It also appears to answer the phone.
Over 95 people attended the Practices Workshop, representing over 65 universities, corporations and non-profits. NCWIT was founded on the idea that we can and must research and implement practices focused on increasing the number of girls and women choosing IT educations and careers. As NCWIT coalition members, we are dedicated to institutional reform that is based on said practices, building a culture of progress and evidence as we go. We spent most of the day learning about practices involving mentoring and collaborative/compelling education. Attendees will take the practices home and start to implement them appropriately. We are grateful for our funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that enables us to have these meetings.
There were two keynotes – one by IBM Executive Vice President Nick Donofrio and the other by Dr. Jeannette Wing, President's Professor of Computer Science and Computer Science Department Head at CMU. Nick's talk focused on innovation and how women can and must play a role if corporations are to remain competitive in the global economy. Jeannette urged everybody to "just do it" and get started now on increasing the number of women in IT. She also introduced the concept of "computational thinking" that I can't wait to read more about. We learned about the CMU Women@SCS Outreach Roadshow from five delightful students. This is an amazing outreach effort that you may want to consider learning about if you do outreach to high school students.
I musn't forget the reception, sponsored by Avaya Inc. Almost 200 people attended and learned about the issues concerning girls and women in information technology. We were thrilled to welcome Dr. Kathie Olsen, Deputy Director of NSF, to the reception as our speaker.
A great few days, jam packed with useful information. Thanks to everybody who helped make them happen.
Lucy Sanders is Co-founder and CEO of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)