Archive for April, 2012

Is this the answer to increasing women in computing?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

I hope I have your interest from the title of the post!

I like travelling for work, it breaks up the week and I like the change. It also gives me time out to think and plan for the coming weeks (for my job, every week is different). I find it gives me another perspective on what’s happening in my life at the moment and it’s incredibly refreshing. Particularly when I get to stay in such lovely locations…

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So my trip away last week got me thinking about the upcoming Go Girl Go For IT event to be held in Melbourne in June. I always love attending this event and I have been invited back to present to the 1000+ girls again this year. Don’t you just love their fabulous logo of the girls head? Funky 🙂

Exciting too because all high school girls attending get a copy of my pink book! So what topic will I present on this year? I will let you know when I know 🙂 but I will be travelling to Go Girl on the way back from Barcelona so I’m sure I will have plenty of stories to tell!

So back to the title of the post. Attending these events always gets me thinking about how we can inspire more females to consider a career in computing. And we need to do this now as much as we ever did; the numbers of females studying technology are at an all time low. In the first year undergrad class that I teach, I only have one female out of 23 and this disappoints me, mostly because I don’t like being the only girl in the room! I’m sure you can relate. But seriously, this is a problem that many of us have been trying to solve for more than a decade. We have tried lots of different strategies and interventions including events like Go Girl and Technology Takes You Anywhere (the Qld equivalent) and the pink book, however. The numbers of females in computing have not yet increased significantly.

So why do we keep spending much of our spare time in organising and implementing these interventions? Well we figure that we might not have any girls in computing otherwise! I’m being serious! We keep doing what we do …but maybe we need to take some advice from Maria Klawe’s inspiring lecture. (pity I couldn’t get it to run on my iPad :()

I have heard of Maria who is a well known computer scientist and advocate of women in computing, and read some of her academic papers and I think she gives all of us who work so hard at inspiring young females fresh hope. She suggests some new strategies (which I’m sure we are already doing on some level within our universities), and gives evidence of how they have worked in her university. At Harvey Mudd college, they have increased the number of female computer science majors from 10% to 42% in 5 years!

Even if we can learn one new thing from Maria, it all helps…

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Microsoft IT-Girls 2012 Monday 2nd April

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Microsoft ran a great IT girls day this week in Sydney and all attendees received a copy of the pink book. Lauren, our awesome role model in the pink book went along to inspire the girls (and did a fantastic job!)

Microsoft hosted over 150 attendees from 16 schools in a full day of workshops and panels so students could learn more about opportunities for women in the ICT industry, and get inspired to follow their career dreams!

The workshops included “The Future of Innovation”, “The Future of Entertainment” and “Experience Windows 8”. The organiser, Katrina Wong, commented on how it was amazing to hear the laughter and oohs and aahs during the workshops, and how very encouraging it was to see a group of girls ambush their Windows 8 workshop presenter after the workshops to see more about this new operating system! The girls asked lots of questions during the careers panels and it was great to be able to showcase that there a multiple study paths that lead to a career in technology.

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The schools who attended…
Liverpool Girls High School, Asquith Girls High School, St George Girls High School, Brigidine College, Santa Sabina College, Our Lady of Mercy College, Miller Technology High School, Moorebank High School, Wiley Park High School, Ambarvale High School, St Ives High School, Bass High School, East Hills Girls Technology High School, Willoughby Girls High School, Gymea Technology High School, and Stella Maris.

We also had guests from…
Macquarie Group Limited, the NSW Department of Education and Training, Ausgrid, and Hornsby Girls High School.

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Here are some gems Microsoft would love to share from their evaluation forms…
(these are quotations taken verbatim; any grammatical errors are left intact):

· I really enjoyed this experience and has made me want to work in IT even more
· I really enjoyed the career panel (interns) because it really gave an insight into what it is like to complete university and getting an internship here
· This has been an enjoyable and incredible experience. The three guys who ran the workshops were very entertaining and taught me many things about technology and the nature of other people and the needs of people that technology reaches
· It was a fantastic day. Now maybe I even want to work for Microsoft
· Every time I left one event I learnt something new
· The part in which interns and management talked about their own experiences provided valuable information regarding careers in IT
· I really enjoyed the interactive presentations as they were very engaging. The talks where there videos about futuristic technology and technology that have been very recently established were very enlightening. Food was great also!
· Thank you for inviting us today! All presentations were very informative and motivating for my future career. I look forward in the future to work for Microsoft as an accountant in the industry. Thank you
· Today was a great day and I was influenced by all the people and learnt a lot about different jobs in IT. It was also fun to use the different technologies and be able to experience different technologies. I think this was well done and the presentations were also well done and engaging
· Today was an extremely informative and enjoyable experience where I got to learn more about the future opportunities in Microsoft and ICT. This experience enabled me to think about my future and what I should do and thanks to today, I narrowed down my future choices
· Today was a very enjoyable day. I learnt a lot about the technology we have today and the upcoming technology that Microsoft is aiming to make public. The experience has shown me that I can have a career in technology and be successful at it.
· I loved how you introduced us to so many technology. It actually made me realize how behind I am with just a smart phone
· I like the fact that we get to listen to interns/careers panels. Everyone that spoke to us told us something very inspirational. Thank you so much and I hope to work with your company in the future!