At this year's SXSW, 10 "women-in-tech" organizations teamed up to sponsor a single booth. "Women Techies United" turned out to be quite an attraction! Nearly every woman who walked by (and a lot of men too) stopped to see what we were all about.
Despite outreach programs, targeted recruitment efforts and scholarships, women continue to account for a disproportionally small fraction of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in computing. That suggests to me that if we’re ever going to change our demographics, we need to look carefully at the product we’re offering.
This is the second in a series of blogs contributed by winners of the NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund, a Microsoft-funded initiative that awards up to $15,000 to innovative programs that recruit and retain women students in post-secondary computing departments. Read more about the Seed Fund here.
NCWIT recognizes the importance of establishing a strong presence among legislators and policy-makers in Washington, D.C., and we strive to keep key decision-makers apprised of the issues surrounding diversity and innovation. We do this with the help of The Stern Group, an international advisory firm led by the Honorable Paula Stern. Here are some examples of The Stern Group's work on behalf of NCWITover the course of the last month.
Since we launched our funding campaign for computer science education reform in D.C. about 10 days ago, the news has been filled with stories about our campaign themes: computer science education, the increasing need for skilled technology professionals, computing's pervasive influence on other career fields, and the potential for underrepresented groups in computing, such as women, to bring much-needed talent to the workforce. Some examples:
Since its inception in 2004, NCWIT has successfully attracted the support of corporations, foundations, and the government to help it achieve its mission of increasing women's participation in IT. In part it's because these organizations recognize the importance of diversity in computer science and IT; and in part it's because we strive to operate with an efficient and strategic business model, one that will provide funders with return on their investment.
Every organization, whether for- or non-profit, lives for the success story: the testimonial from a happy client or customer served that tells you in first-hand terms how effective and influential your organization has been. In rare cases, you might hear that you've been integral in helping a person make significant and positive changes; in even rarer cases, you cause a person to shed tears of joy.
The 2009 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women and Computing last month in Tucson, Arizona, was a great place to get the real pulse of women in computing, and to meet other women involved in computer science. The theme of the 2009 celebration was "creating technology for social good," and NCWIT hosted a panel on the student track titled, "Have You Considered Becoming an Entrepreneur?"