Grace Hopper Celebration 2012
by Megan Olsen
This year has been a busy one for the department in terms of diversity. We were a bronze sponsor of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which was held in Baltimore in October. The conference provided many great technical and non-technical talks on the theme "Are We There Yet?" There were many highly accomplished female presenters, this year including Nora Denzel and Anita Jones.
The conference had almost 3600 participants, including four of our current undergraduate women students, two of our female faculty members, and one of our alumni. The department was able to supplement almost all of our students’ cost of attendance. The students had a great time, and felt better prepared for their careers after attending. For many of them it was shocking to see just how many women are in computer science, as well as the plethora of career options available to them either straight out of the undergraduate degree, or after some graduate work. Thanks to the conference, the students decided to implement their own ideas on self-improvement in the department through ACM: mock interviews for interview preparation this February, and a non-technical talk on work/life balance this April. Overall the students had a great time and learned a lot about both career options and how to be successful.
We are also now a member of the NCWIT Academic Alliance, which brings together colleges and universities concerned about the lack of diversity within computer science. As part of this initiative, we teamed up with University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland College Park, Towson University, and Bowie State University to offer the first Maryland/Delaware Affiliate Aspirations Award. This award is related to the national Aspirations Award, a highly competitive award for female high school students who are active in computer science, leadership roles, and community service. This first MD/DE Affiliate Aspirations Award rewards the highest achieving students in the state of Maryland. Competition was extremely strong in our state, and we honored 21 winners at a dinner on April 11th. We look forward to being able to continue encouraging young women to follow their passion in computer science by being involved in this award for years to come.
If you are interested in being involved yourself, reviewers for the aspirations award are always needed. Reviews are due in November, generally with a three week span to complete them. For most reviewers it only takes a few hours. To add yourself to the system so that you get reminders next fall, sign up at the Award website.
To learn more about diversity issues in computer science, or how you can be part of the solution, consider the Richard Tapia conference, the ACM-W, or any of the NCWIT resources such as By the Numbers, a case study on unconscious bias, or how to talk to colleagues about these issues. To browse all of their resources, see their resources page.
Photo, left to right: Roberta Sabin (faculty), Megan Gansfuss, Rachel Fraczkowsi, Courtney Lemon, Amy Hartzog, Megan Olsen (faculty), Jacqueline Feild (alumnus)
It has been thirteen years since Dr. Roberta Sabin, then the CS Department Chair, appeared with other women in computing on NPR's Diane Rehm show. It is still well worth listening to a digital reproduction of that broadcast.