GRACE HOPPER REGIONAL CONSORTIUM LAUNCHES CONFERENCES TO RECRUIT AND RETAIN MORE WOMEN IN COMPUTING

January 28, 2010

A partnership of respected technology organizations has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to broaden women’s participation in computing by sponsoring regional conferences across the country. The ACM Women’s Council (ACM-W), the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI), and the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) have formed the Grace Hopper Regional Consortium to bring the growing career and leadership opportunities in computing to more women, whose representation in computing continues to decline. The three-year project adds twelve regional conferences to build communities that extend the web of support for women in computing.

“By reaching out to diversity-rich local populations for these computing conferences, we are effectively tripling the number of currently established regional conferences,” said Gloria Townsend of the ACM Women’s Council (ACM-W) http://women.acm.org and a professor of computer science at DePauw University. “We are creating a regional-level transformation that brings students, faculty and industry representatives together to experience the role modeling, networking, group and individual mentoring, and career information that make national events so powerful.” Dr. Townsend, a Principle Investigator for this NSF grant with Joanne Cohoon of the University of Virginia, developed the regional conferences concept in 2004, as an ACM-W project.

Each partner brings to the alliance unique expertise in increasing women’s participation in computing.

Telle Whitney, president and CEO of ABI http://anitaborg.org, says the Grace Hopper Regional Consortium provides opportunities for women to present research at regional events, which prepares them for presentations at international conferences like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) http://gracehopper.org. GHC, inaugurated in 1994, is now an annual event that brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. “This kind of participation increases women’s confidence and extends the reach of conferences for women in computing into underserved communities. This increased reach and participation end the isolation of women in schools with few role models,” Whitney adds.

NCWIT CEO and Cofounder Lucy Sanders http://www.ncwit.org agrees that these regional events will reach a larger, more diverse audience than is possible by existing events for women in computing. “We can develop exciting programs and partnerships that are possible only at the regional level. These opportunities will further attract the numbers of women that are necessary to build a critical mass of leadership,” she notes. “We intend to change the stereotype about gender and computing, and spark collaborations between budding students and professionals in this vital field.”

Links to the regional conferences and schedule information are available from the Grace Hopper Regional Consortium website http://www.ghregionalconsortium.org. ABI will host two workshops each year at GHC to promote best practices, and assess their results in attracting women to computing. In addition, two conference organizers, two poster winners, and student coordinators from each regional conference will receive scholarships to attend GHC. NCWIT will extend its impact through the Regional Consortium with resources for faculty members to increase girls’ and women’s participation in their programs and undertake institutional change within their organizations. NCWIT has also invited Regional Consortium organizers to its annual Practices Summit to learn about leading-edge research on curriculum, creativity, and advocacy efforts. ACM-W will help regional area schools charter an ACM-W chapter to sustain momentum, and provide “student scholarship” funds to attend research conferences.

The Grace Hopper Regional Consortium includes biennial conferences in each region as well as poster sessions that provide first-time speaking experiences for young students; keynote speakers provided through conference organizers to serve as role models; programs tracks that appeal to undergraduate and graduate women students; and a career fair to network with industry representatives and share resumes. Attendees are encouraged to continue their interactions through ACM-W student chapters, to host multi-institutional events, and to connect year-round through a wiki.



About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery www.acm.org, is the world’s largest educational and scientific society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

About the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) http://anitaborg.org provides resources and programs to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and develop women leaders in high-tech fields, resulting in higher levels of technological innovation. ABI programs serve high-tech women by creating a community and providing tools to help them develop careers. ABI is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 charitable organization. ABI partners include: Google, Microsoft, HP, Cisco, First Republic Bank, Intel, National Science Foundation, NetApp, SAP, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Thomson Reuters, CA, Intuit, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Amazon, Facebook, and Raytheon.



About NCWIT

NCWIT is the National Center for Women and Information Technology, a non-profit coalition of over 200 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and no-profits working to improve U.S. innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability by increasing women’s participation in IT. NCWIT’s work spans K-12 and higher education through industry, academic and entrepreneurial careers. NCWIT partners include the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Avaya, Bank of America, Pfizer, EMC, Intel, HP, Google, Qualcomm, Motorola, Boehringer Ingelheim, Zynga, AT&T, Walmart, Medco, Credit Suisse, GalexE.Solutions, Cisco, State Street, and ITA Software. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.