CCWIC: Impressions from a Non-Technical Woman

Doniree Walker

I have a confession to make. My degree is in psychology and my work experience is primarily in communications and marketing. I'm not what you'd call a "technical woman," yet I am a woman who works in tech and works with women who work in tech.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend CCWIC, the Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing. CCWIC is a "regional meeting modeled after the highly successful international Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing. Like other regional "mini-Hoppers," CCWIC seeks to encourage the research and career interests of local women in computing."

It was inspiring to see the bridge between college undergraduates, grad students, and industry professionals. I saw many great opportunities for recruiters to find job-seekers, for graduate students to find some mentorship regarding their researc,h and for industry experts to share their experience and knowledge with conference attendees.

The smaller crowd of 200+ people allowed for conversation and networking opportunities that a larger conference might not offer. There were panels and a poster session for researchers to show what they've discovered, what they're building, and what they've been working on lately. It was a great opportunity to see some of the advances in technology and computer science. Most attendees seemed to be from Colorado, though I met a professor from Nebraska who attended Joanne Cohoon's faculty workshop on Recruiting Women into Computer Science Majors.

Joanne is a Senior Research Scientist for NCWIT and presented her faculty workshop over Friday's lunch session. Her workshop was attended by various college faculty and professors and was well-received. It was interesting for me, the newbie, to learn directly from faculty just what their experiences were like in their classrooms and to hear of the challenges they face with recruitment and retention of women in their computer science tracks.

Joanne first provided scientific research that shows why recruiting women into computer science majors is important both for the institutions and for the growth and innovation of our society, and followed the "why this matters" with solid, tested practices for the professors to implement in their classrooms and advising offices. I also had the chance to meet some recruiters from Boulder's Google office, as well as undergraduate and graduate students from the Air Force Academy, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the Colorado School of Mines, CU-Boulder, and CSU.

I look forward to seeing what this event does in 2011.