Thursday, October 16, 2008
I’m starting to look through my CONNECT contacts, and managing to page back in the context of my conversations from more than a week ago.
My first priority will be to send e-mails to the new women I met that are the closest match professionally. As well the women that have sent me mail as a result of the conference.
Then I will send to the women I re-connected with. It is always important to strengthen connections. Besides these women have become my friends and cheerleaders over the years! I want to thank them for that and let them know it is always a delight to re-connect.
I plan to finish these 2 sets by the end of the weekend.
There are two other general groups on my CONNECT list: Students and those I met briefly (and maybe don’t quite remember). I will send these folks mail as well.
The students I will encourage to work on their connections, and feel free to e-mail if they need some encouragement.
The rest, I will just say hello, and hope to see them at future GHC conferences. Sometimes it takes more time to make a genuine connection. For all I know an interaction with one of these women will be a life changing experience at some point.
Since I really enjoyed talking with everyone I connected with at GHC, I’m really looking forward to developing these connections.
I'd love to hear your plans for building on your confernce connections!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
"So what would you like to say to the other women students who are considering attending the Grace Hopper Conference (GHC) in 2009?"
My instantaneous response was, "Don't consider it, just do it!", and Vetria was impressed :)
Dr. Bryant, our department’s associate chair and who was in the minority group at the conference had a similar question:
“When do you think is the best time for a female Ph.D. student to attend the Grace Hopper Conference during the program?”
I said, “The very first year!”
How helpful it would have been had I been to the conference in my very first year in the Ph.D. program! I feel that I have missed a lot by not being a part of the conference in previous years.
I feel that the top reasons to attend the conference are the keynote speeches and the opportunity to meet the leaders in computing. Every speaker had a motivational story to tell. Not only one would feel motivated to do well in their field but would also be convinced to think creatively to solve the problems that the community is facing in general.
The networking workshop with Jo Miller was aptly scheduled for the 1st of October. The tips that I got during the workshop (the 30 second commercial or the elevator pitch) came handy when I had to interact with other attendees throughout the conference. Thanks Jo :)
The CTO forum was interesting. I thought about doing some data mining to analyze the characteristics of the top leaders in the industry. Due to lack of data (we got to talk to 4 or 5 CTOs), the mining didn’t work. However, I plan to Google stalk the CTOs and find out if there are any commonalities. The short meeting with Justin Rattner from Intel was awesome. He came across as a very smart, modest, and a truthful gentleman. I asked him how helpful his degree from an Ivy League school was in taking him where he was today. He laughed and said that it did help a lot at the beginning.
From the technical topics to general non-technical ones, like “ACM Membership Gender Study” and “The ABC’s for ABD’s: Tips for Working Your Way through Dissertation to PhD”, most of the issues that a technical woman should be aware of were covered. Apart from information sharing and networking, there were booths set up by various sponsors who were on the recruitment drive. If not for the jobs or internship, the booths were worth a visit to pick cool freebies :).
Information sharing, networking, job opportunities, technically enriching talks, motivational speeches, improving soft skills….what else…hmmm… C E L E B R A T I O N … yes, celebration of women in computing! Every moment at the conference was a celebration in itself. However, the jam session on 2nd October and the sponsor party on 3rd October were rocking.
Now I have plans to talk to the other female peers in my department to share my conference experience and to motivate them to attend the conference next year. I don’t see a reason why a woman techie should not attend the conference at least once in her career.
I know the sessions are over, but I didn't have time to post about this one over at the conference, and I think it might be of interest to many of you out there.
If you think all testers (particularly Software Engineers in Test) do is sit in an office “playing” with programs to make them fail, and not development at all; if you think that Software Engineer in Test is an inferior position for those who did not make it as Software Engineer, you are in fact in sync with most people, but you are wrong. It is not an inferior or a superior position, it is just different. And it does involve development -and many more challenging, rewarding, and fun tasks.
I once heard (can't recall the source, sorry) that even if you are sure you want to be a Software Engineer -or you are already, you should give Software Engineer in Test a try because it gives you a broader perspective and makes you a much better Software Engineer, and who knows, you might find it more satisfying. There have been people switching from Software Engineer to Software Engineer in Test and vice versa. It is all about finding where your likes are. But it is worth exploring or at least learning more about it.
There are many opportunities for those interested in starting a career as a Software Engineer in Test. You can read my post about the panel discussion “Exciting Career They Don’t Tell You about at School: Software Engineer in Test “, by technical women leaders in Test from leading software companies. They talked about career paths, challenges and opportunities as Software Engineer in Test. You can also read the ghc wiki entry, or check the resources recommended by the panelists: The art of Software testing, and Sticky Minds.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I had a kind of rocky start to my GHC08 - had to spend Thursday morning fixing an emergency situation for a deadline back home. I missed breakfast and lunch (I really was looking forward to the Systers lunch - darn!) and my spa appointment, so by the time I got to the event, I was totally stressed. I apologize to anyone to whom I was shrill or strident. By the time I got there, I was close to tears from exhaustion, frustration, altitude, and low bloodsugar. Several women were very generous with their time and let me vent, which helped. And I got trailmix, to hold me until dinnertime, which also helped.
I did manage to attend some great sessions Thursday afternoon. Then I went back to the hotel to change for dinner, and ended up staying and watching the VP debate in the hotel bar with a bunch of rowdy women (I admit I was one of the rowdiest), eating cheezburgers and drinking cosmos. (There was a guy there too but he wasn't terribly rowdy. ;-)
Today, I made it to the morning sessions and lunch. The sessions I attended were mostly on "Do you want to go to grad school? " I ended up have a great conversation with one of the panelists who gave me some great advice. Had lunch and chatted with Anna Koop (with the fantastic dreadlocks) - the turkey sandwich was pretty vile (soggy bread!?) but it was food. Attended a couple more sessions and then went back to the hotel to nap and change. Dinner was decent - although I was a little confused about how to get to a table - ended up getting stuck in a tshirt line (I've already got far too many tshirts!) but finally found a place to sit. Met a wonderful woman faculty member who had some more great advice on navigating academic politics. Then I danced way too much -- had a *wonderful* time dancing, but my hip is definitely feeling it. (They say you're only as old as you feel - right now, I feel about 80.)
The session Thursday on outreach to girls was great - it had actual hands-on, specific, here's activities you can do. It was so nice to attend a session on outreach that didn't just preach but actually gave us *tools* on what to do!
The women in FLOSS session was fun although a little too focused on industry for my taste - I got to put in a plug for the Python community (www.python.org) which encourages participation at many levels (bug-reports, documentation, conference organizing, unit tests, answering questions on our newbies email list, submitting patches, etc.) and PyCon 2009 (http://pycon.blogspot.com/) where we *want* lots of proposals for presentations from women. If you're a fellow pythonista - please submit a proposal. If you're not into Python, OSCON is the big Open Source Conference by O'Reilly and they'll be taking proposals in January. Start thinking now about what you could propose. It'll be in San Jose in 2009. (If you present at OSCON, you get in for *free*. What a deal!) The session brought up a good point about why the low participation of women in FLOSS - in the past (up until a couple years ago), participation was almost entirely amateur/volunteer work. With women being the primary caregivers in their families (whether of kids, elders, or spouses) and having other interests, our spare time tends to be pretty limited for volunteer efforts of any sort. Add to that the sometimes rough and tumble nature of some online communities and many women find other uses for their time.
There was a presentation on gender equity in engineering from the Denice Denton (?) award winner. She did a good job of presenting reasons why women aren't well-represented in the engineering and science fields - and showed how she had worked to reverse that.
The sessions on grad school (getting in and doing research) were really useful to me - it was nice to hear from women who hadn't known all along what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. And also, helped me think about whether I want to go to grad school, and what the benefits of it might be for me.
I had a lovely chat with a woman at morning break who showed me her poster - it was really interesting to see how she had solved the problem she was working on. It made so much sense - and was "obvious in retrospect" but her approach and her solution was fun to hear about.
I met a woman who lives just down the street from me and we're in contact now.
I met a woman who's the first woman in the US I've met who knew who Anastacia is.
I had lots of lovely hall conversations with random people - including the very nice young women who showed me their kitty photos.
Unlike many folks, I didn't join Connect. I would have liked having a sticker for Undergrad, but didn't like having to limit my "who I want to meet" on their registration website. It felt, for me, overly restrictive. I've found that when I drop expectations and constraints on who I'll meet and how that person might affect my life (or how I might affect theirs) - I meet all sorts of folks from all different affiliations and education and work levels and various industries and interests. And I've found that the most unexpected connections can be some of the most rewarding. So - while I'm sure their service will be very useful to many folks, it just didn't fit the way I network. I do wish them well and hope that they thrive. Anything that helps women find each other for support and mentoring and networking is great.
Speaking of women - an observation:
I chatted with several women this conference who expressed that they'd been really nervous or unsure about attending Grace Hopper. Some of them were the "always the only woman" and "just one of the guys" kind of women (like I was) who'd either never really interacted much with other women, or who'd had bad experiences with women living down to stereotypes (gossip, backstabbing, malebashing, etc). Their questions boiled down to:
1. what would I get out of a conference with all women?
2. am I going to fit in/feel comfortable/feel safe?
While I'm glad that I wasn't the only one who'd felt that way their first time -- it was really nice to hear them say it out loud so I could reassure them that they're not the only one who felt that way either. I also was happy to hear all of them say "I'll be back!"
A big part of what I find valuable at Grace Hopper is hearing lifestories of other women - particularly those who, like me, followed a circuitous, non-traditional route to CS. Another plus is meeting people who don't look at you funny for being a girl and talking about geeky stuff. And it's great to meet the women who can mentor - the ones who've been there done that -- and the young women who are just starting out and so enthusiastic. And it's just fun to see and hear about all the different ways women are "in computing". It gives me hope for the future.
I look forward to tomorrow.
And to next year.
She told that 53% of the U.S. online women are reading and contributing to blogs. Blogging is addictive and people are doing that on daily basis. Regardless of age, once engaged, blogging is a daily part of life. 20% of the people are spending more time on blogging and moving away from television. People trust blogs and rely on them for advice or recommendation. They get help about making purchase decisions.
She also told about what women are getting from blogosphere. They are experiencing unique transformational power. For example, women undergoing postpartum depression or diabetes are raising awareness, generating support and bringing about change through blogging. Blogs are helping people to share grief- loss of a child or loss of a husband. People find support groups online and find it easy to share their feelings online. Women are getting book deals and offers for writing for magazines. It’s also changing how we age. A woman in her 80’s is engaging herself in blogging to keep her brain active, to stay engaged and to avoid isolation.
Elisa added that blogging is a cultural record about our day to day lives and is a gift for the future generations. There are businesses starting out of blogs, people are getting jobs and companies are looking into blogging capabilities of the people.
Some success stories:
1) Elise Bauer was very stressed out when she quit her job and went to stay with her parents. She started learning to cook from her parents and then posted those recipes online with pictures. She now makes a lot of money out of it.
2) Corvida from Atlanta is a 23 years old just out of college and “SheGeeks”. Now she is a highly ranked techblogger. She has created a career for herself out of blogging.
Elisa told that having a focused topic for the blog and having a clear voice is very important. You have to be a great story teller. That’s how you get audience. Blogging is a way we participate in just everything and take actions. Blogging is become popular amongst politicians and people who want to raise support. For example, blogs to raise support for Katrina relief involved a lot of people and attracted donors from far and wide.
Blogging raises awareness and helps in getting the mass action going. The customers are getting empowered by the power to be heard, the power to build your own playing field, the power to participate, the power to change the world through blogging. In the world where we don’t trust media, government, big businesses, the health care industry, we do trust each other!
Friday, October 3, 2008
What a fantastic conference this has been. Unlike many other conferences I've attended, I seem to have no downtime. I'm constantly networking, attending sessions, blogging... and this year, fighting an uncooperative dying laptop. The energy here is fantastic, the balance of technical talks with "soft skills" is perfect. I only wish we all had more time together, that the sessions were longer, and the breaks were longer (for more networking). Of course, that would only be possible if the conference itself were longer... but a woman can dream, can't she?
I staffed the Sun booth yesterday morning, fielding all sorts of questions on OpenSolaris, Solaris Security, types of jobs we do at Sun, opportunities for students and just general questions about what Sun does. I enjoy what I do here, so getting an opportunity to talk about it was a true pleasure. If I missed any of you at the booth, please send me an email or drop me a comment here.
While here, I got to meet so many students, I think I even met all of the students and faculty from Purdue as well. I really enjoy hearing about the new research and areas of focus. The conference is only 50% students, though, so I also met so many inspiring career women.
Tonight Sun hosted a small private reception for the Sun employees and some outstanding women we all met throughout the conference. It was great to talk more in depth with these women, but again it seemed we just did not have enough time as we all rushed off for dinner provided by Google and Microsoft. Yum!
In addition to healthy, delicious food and cute t-shirts (Microsoft's t-shirts being made from bamboo and organic cotton - yay, Microsoft!) we again had DANCING! Imagine hundreds of women (and about 5 men) line dancing. Truly a site to behold. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the cable for my camera, but hopefully photos will be uploaded soon. It was quite a site to see!
Now I'm tired and need to start sorting through my stuff to see what I can fit in my suitcase. All the giveaways in the bag this year were really good, and anything folks didn't want someone has been collecting to give to charity.
Until next year :-)Valerie Fenwick
Laura Zavala blogs about the panel discussion by technical leaders from industry and academia about the synergistic evolution of software and hardware technologies in today systems (e.g. high availability systems, mobile devices and services, biomedical appliances) and the challenges and opportunities presented by this evolution:
I've heard about the Imposter Syndrome before, but was intrigued by this panel consisting of especially successful computer scientists. As it turned out, that was their point: almost everyone feels like a fraud at times. The huge crowd attending the session provided further support for this hypothesis. The session was a lot of fun, as each of the panelists introduced herself as an imposter and shared her experiences with both humor and sincerity.
To summarize, some of the times when the panelists feel/felt like imposters include:
* In new situations where they don't fit in yet, especially when doing things "successful people" do or women don't often do. (It was interesting to note that the first imposter experience for several panelists was in graduate school.)
* When asked to take responsibilities they don't feel qualified for.
* When surrounded by senior people.
* When they see other people working much harder.
Some tips they gave for getting over (or surviving despite) the imposter feeling are:
* Believe in yourself and the things you excel at. Remember your past successes, not your failures, and be proud of them. Speak up for yourself.
* Act like you have confidence; pretend to be competent; keep bluffing it!
* Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you, and don't hesitate to support and help others yourself. If necessary, tell people you respond well to encouragement.
* Realize that only you can make yourself feel like an imposter. In that sense, you are the creator of your own experience, so don't give that control to anyone else. Don't let other people make you feel like a fraud.
* Work hard! And have fun at the same time.
* Listen well, especially in the first few months of a new job or situation.
* Take calculated risks that make you stand out in a good way.
* Accept self-doubt as part of who you are. It keeps us humble and helps us help each other.
The main point to remember is that you are not alone. I'm with you. :) And if that's not enough, so are all the other people who were in this session!
Dr. Williams made a great comment: "I am the creator of my own experience."
Essentially, nobody ever told her she was an imposter, she was telling herself she was. So, she decided to stop telling herself that, and her confidence gets better & better every day.
The entire panel was wonderful - I just wish there were more hours in the day to attend sessions at Grace Hopper. They all seem to end too soon.
My computer woes have gotten worse and worse - now my networking driver is failing to attach, the wired connection is working, so I assume this is an additional hardware issue. Oh, and the CPU is throwing errors now, too. So, that brand new laptop has become a very expensive, slow to boot, word processor (does "vi" count as word processing software?). One of the fanstastic Sun recruiters lent me her laptop, and I ran off to the imposter session, desperate to upload my last blog from my thumb drive. Alas, this session was so crowded, I couldn't obtain an IP address! But, small wonders keep happening at this converence - a wonderful woman sitting next to me offered me her laptop, where I'm blogging from right now.
Ms. Simard started off the presentation with the broad statement that diversity is good for business and social tasks, which has been backed up by research study after research study. And while it has been shown that women control 80% of the consumer spending, men are still designing 90% of technical products. More frighteningly, women only make up 13% of the board of directors of Fortune 500 companies and less than 5% of the executives.
The research study they did found that men are more likely to be in a senior postion than women (24% vs 10%), even though men and women surveyed had nearly the same distribution of higher level degrees.
Ms. Henderson then continued the talk to let us know that women are more likely to make decisions like delaying having children (30% of women vs 18% of men) in order to advance their careers, or forgo having children all together (9% of women vs 3.5% of men). Another odd statistic out of this study was that the majority of women in high tech careers also have a partner in high tech (68.5%).
The presentation then went on to perceptions of success, covering what men and women considered to be the top attributes of success and then self assessment of how many of those attributes they think they have. One big noted attribute is that women believe you must work long hours in order to be successful (a belief that the men in the survey did not agree with), but don't believe they can meet those needs. Such self discrepencies can actually be a big barrier to success all on its own.
Women in high tech companies really want to see more investment by the company in corporate development on the job (as opposed to relying on the employee to do it in their "spare time"), make mentoring a part of the corporate culture and fix the wage gap. Ms. Simard notes that it is just not true that women don't care about financial rewards and being paid fairly for their work. Their survey showed that women care just as much about health benefits, financial rewards and salary as their male counterparts.
The survey showed that some of the most important things to high tech women was for the company to invest in professional development on the job, mentoring to be a part of the corporate culture and to see the wage gap corrected.
Discussion came around one of my favorite books, Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide. Apparently the authors did a follow up study and discovered that women who negotiated were more likely to be seen in a negative light by both men and women. Ms. Henderson & Ms. Simard noted that there was a lot of research finding that gender bias is very ingraned in both men and women, so as women we actually need to work at this ourselves and make sure we are aware when we are making such judgements. Ms. Simard noted that women who are most successful are able to "tune" their assertiveness depending on the situation and whom they are talking to.
She started with the background of the pros for having OLPC in countries where many children don't have electricity or even anything better than a dirt floor in their house. One of the big pros for this program is to help provide education for young girls, as families can't often afford to educate all of their children - so they tend to only educate boy children. She also believes this helps bridge the digital divide for incredibly impoverished children.
Ms Buchele then asks, is it really the best use of money for these incredibly poor people, when the laptops, while cheap compared to standard laptops, are far from free - especially when you consider what it takes to deploy them and secure them. She seems to think that it is, because it's just not possible to train the teachers appropriately in a country where the median age is 25 - and not all of the existing teachers even want to go into those very rural areas. These laptops help to put education directly in the hands of the students, giving them a unique perspective of ownership and pride of taking care of the laptop themselves.She talked extensively about the current educational realities in Ghana. For example, that students there learn by rote, which means they may know that 9 by 9 is 81, but would have no idea what that means. Same as they may know how to copy a sentence, but they won't be able to tell you what the words mean. Also, the teachers are grossly under educated or just not available, or there are just not enough classrooms or no classrooms at all.
So, there seem to be real benefits to providing these laptops directly to the children at no cost to their family, which gives the children more direct learning opportunities on their own timeline.
In this panel, a number of social networking tools were mentioned, including Flickr, Last.fm, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace,Twitter, blogging, Orkut, FriendFeed, Plaxo, wikis, and virtual worlds. Not everyone uses all these, but social networking and having an online presence are increasingly important, especially in some areas. Companies and professionals use tools to reach out to customers, generate interest about products, or bring in traffic to their website. A person's use of social networks also ranges from being connected as part of her job, to networking, to staying in touch with friends and family. This raises the questions of what information about ourselves to make available, and how.
People's answers for "how" varied according to their own preferences. LinkedIn was recommended as more tailored towards a job search, but some mentioned having to be on Facebook because so is everyone else. Micro-blogging was considered great for mass communication, needing less effort than email. Aggregating services like FriendFeed were also suggested. One result is that your network of people acts as a filter for information -- you can check their updates rather than the news, to find out what's really important to your community.
Regarding what to make available, one goal is to create a brand image of yourself, yet still retain a personal touch. Thus it helps to focus on your area of expertise but also include some personal details. So what about separating your professional and social lives? While people seeing you as a real person beyond work can strengthen connections, there is also the danger of too much information. One can address this by having limited profile access for some contacts, or separate work and social profiles.
Other privacy issues also came up. For instance, you may want to protect your name in the internet space by creating an account on a new service before someone else can impersonate you there. It's also possible that an information source you're following is actually an impersonator. Furthermore, once you put information about yourself online, you no longer have control over it (beyond some amount of deleting or blocking). Friends may choose to publicly re-distribute your personal information, and it is quite possible for "everyone in the world" to know it eventually.
This last issue is my biggest concern with social networking. I see a conflict between needing to have some online presence freely available to prospective employers, and not wanting the rest of the world's strangers to have any information at all. If would-be employers don't find you on the web before formally being in your network, you may be dismissed as nobody. But any information you put up can be swallowed by questionable parties with loads of free time, and used in ways you had not imagined. As far as I can tell, there's no real solution. To paraphrase one panelist, you can't really live your life in that much fear. So perhaps the only thing to do is to find a balance that works for you. On that note, I'm curious about what balance works for you, and how you handle this conflict. Thoughts?
The talk started with some examples of robots at work in CMU: the Roboceptionist, robots helping the elderly, and even dog and humanoid robots playing soccer! Dr. Veloso then discussed what makes a robot: integrated intelligence. Basically, there are three components:
- perception: the processing of sensory data
- cognition: learning and action selection
- action: the motion and manipulation of the robot.
Dr. Veloso also gave some examples of soccer strategy for robots. She showed a video where the robots completed four passes and a chip-kick before scoring. The funny thing is, this had never been observed in the lab prior to the competition! Dr. Veloso also showed videos of Aibos playing soccer and explained the difference between the teamwork problem when the robots can and can't communicate with each other.
Did you attend Dr. Veloso's talk? Are you interested in robotics or working on these problems in robotics? Let us know!
Other than that, I'm not going to give you much text, because this post contains a whopping five shows!
- The Artemis Project: Teaching Computer Science to Adolescent Girls
- Using Robots to Introduce Computer Programming to Middle Schools
- Inspiring Girls in Technology: How to Make Every Outreach a Success
- Recruiting High School Women Into Computer Science
Laura Zavala blogs about the talk given by Laura Haas of IBM Almaden Research Center on the area of Information Integration:
Challenges to providing laptops such as OLPC are:
- price: needs to be low
- low power: many places in the developing world often don't have power sources that most laptops require
- network: these places often aren't connected to the internet either
- other infrastructure
- lifetime: it will need to last
- distribution: how to get the laptops to the children/schools?
Mary Lou also discussed some of the technical challenges, especially with respect to power consumption. Using a Linux OS is 160th the size of Vista, so using that required less hardware to run. They also found a way to turn off the CPU in 1/10th of a second, and wake it back up in the same time with a keyboard event or packet from the internet.
One major problem the laptops faced when first mass-produced was that they didn't ever come out of hibernation! Luckily they were able to fix the problem within three weeks, and since then, about 1 million have been deployed, with millions more ready to go.
The price of the laptop is expected to drop to $100 by next year. I've always wanted an OLPC, but haven't got one yet. Do you have an OLPC? If so, what are you using it for? Do you like it? Let us know in the comments below - maybe you can convince some of us to buy one!
I'm curious if you are a member of ACM, or if you've participated in ACM-W. If so, what is the best part about these organizations for you?
A bit of shameless self-promotion again! Our BOF session (entitled "Integrating Ideas: Together We Can Build a Better World") is today at 5:10 and we'd really love to see you there. Come contribute to our discussion on student groups, whether you are part of one or would like to be! We truly believe that by helping each other build these groups and by sharing our ideas, we can build a better world.
We'd also like to mention that we are building a collaborative website for sharing ideas post-conference. It's nowhere near complete and we need you to help make that happen! If you would like to collaborate with us and share your ideas, send an email to: kjtsouka AT gmail DOT com. If you don't want to become a site member at this time, you can also leave a message on our forum to ask questions or give answers. Whichever you choose, we'd love to hear from you!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Stephen Tolopka from Intel started the session with a very interesting question that, “What is the difference between a leader and a manager?”
Linda Apsley from Microsoft said that, “Women don’t realize how far they can go”.
Ramune Nagisetty from Intel mentioned that even her mom faced lots of barrier in her technical career and so does majority of other women today. However, today people admit the problems more openly.
Monique Jeanne Morrow from Cisco looks at disruptive technologies and mentors more men than women because there are so few women in the technical fields.
Ira Pramanick from Google mentioned that in the 17 years of her career, she has seen very few women at higher level. Ira founded (or co-founded) “Magic” to motivate high school girls to study science, engineering and mathematics.
Catherine C. Lasser from IBM said that the leaders take the lead and make sure that the right work is done. She is interested in disruptive business models and said that you can’t dictate these to people but you have to motivate people to come on board.
The panelists believe that leadership is a lot about passion, the ability to change the status quo, and is absolutely collaborative. Leadership is changing what people think “is possible”. The requirements for being a leader are passion, inspiration, ability to motivate and show the path to others.
According to Ira, the prerequisites for being a technical leader are strong technical skills, ability to set examples, and the ability to divide work between people according to what they are good at. Give credit when the team members perform well and take the responsibility when something goes wrong. Be passionate about people and their growth. Leadership is about taking risks. Take a challenging problem and find innovative approaches to solve the problem. It’s OK to fail and never become too comfortable about the work you are doing. Solid Planning is very important
One panelist said that leadership can’t be taught while other said that there are communication courses that you can take to polish your skills. Socialization aspect is very important. Communicate up, down, and laterally. Be true to what you are and don’t try to change your personality to “fit-in”. Don’t stop doing something useful when you become an executive J. It’s very important to be a learner throughout your life. Learning doesn’t stop!
Additional details about this session can be found in Kate's post on the same topic. I did a voice-recording for the session and will update the post soon with more interesting details.
Till laters, stay smiling :-)
There was no awards banquet this year, as the Grace Hopper conference took a more casual approach to the awards reception. Dinner was served buffet style in advance, which nice as we all got a chance to actually pay attention as awards were given out, instead of attempting to balance between eating & listening to the presenters. I really enjoyed the switch!
I have never seen an awards ceremony with so many heart fealt hugs and ear to ear grins. The wonderful stories told about Grace Hopper and Anita Borg were fascinating to listen to. It was cool to see a fellow Gaslighter Alum, Elisa Camahort Page, and her colleagues win the Anita Borg Social Impact Award for their work with BlogHer. I especially liked the acceptance speech from Elaine Weyuker for the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award.
I was lucky enough to be entertained again by David Garibaldi, who dazzled us as he did 6 foot portraits of both Grace Hopper and Anita Borg in less than 10 minutes each (perfectly coordinated to music). I saw him last time at the Professinal Business Women of California conference in April.
The evening then turned to dessert and dancing - what a fantastic combination! Though, I will admit, dancing is challenging at altitude! :-)Valerie Fenwick
Laura Haas, from IBM, talked about how we have lots of information - but the problem is it is in lots of places. There is a big challenge of integrating data so the right data is available to the correct people at the right time - and most importantly in a format they can understand.
This research has been going on for decades, but advances in technology are making easier to find the right information that needs to be collated together.
She went on to describe how to use search, as well as "was this what you were looking for" type queries to better aggregate the data, and noted the problems with dirty data sets.
There are still a lot of problems to tackle - it still needs human input, and too much expertise to run.
Ms. Haas is very passionate about this subject and has a list as long as her arm of followon work. Definitely seems like there are a lot of opportunities in this area!
This session from Mary Smiley, from Intel's Emerging Technology group, was presenting on new micro technologies that enable all of us to "live large".
Some of the technology she covered were sensors, like the one in the iPhone or iPod Touch that can tell when you tip or shake the device. Some more advanced sensors that seem to be in the pipeline would be able to judge your mood from your body temperature, recognize your voice to determine more quickly if your phone might be stolen, and just check how healthy you are.
Some of their research leverage the Polar heart rate monitor straps and the mobile devices that measure activity to get an overall picture of their health. Clearly their are privacy implications for this, where you would not necessarily want to share all of this information with just anyone, and apparently those are being addressed.
This is a very interesting talk on the ShotSpotter technology by Elecia White and Sarah Newman. This technology has been installed in several major cities, helping to solve crimes when the shooter can be pinpointed quickly. In one example, a sniper shot someone from a roof, and actually stayed on the roof, relaxing and smoking a cigarette - thinking he was out of the expected shooting area. But, the ShotSpotter technology had pinpointed him and the police were able to make an arrest.
Of course, this technology needs to attempt to differentiate between firecrackers, hammers, backfiring cars and gunshots. The technology takes a first pass at guessing what it was hearing (and gives a level of confidence), but then asks the police dispatcher to make a judgment call on whether police action is required or not.
They find this gets faster and better reporting than actually relying on people calling 911 (as there is a longer delay before they call and only about 50% of gun crimes are called in). The system isn't perfect, but seems that it can definitely help!
(this entry originally appeared, with links on Valerie's personal blog)
Hilary Pike blogs about how to navigate the crowd at Grace Hopper. http://blogs.msdn.com/springboard/archive/2008/10/02/confessions-of-a-woman-developer-4-steps-to-navigate-grace-hopper.aspx
One interesting thing I learned is that in the last two years, 50% of the engineers Xerox has recruited have been women! I think that is truly amazing and hopefully a trend that other companies will follow.
CTOs emphasized that their schedules require a lot of traveling. It seems like time management is a crucial skill they have in common as they have very tight schedules, often making round trips from the US to, for example, India, within the span of five days. There is a lot of networking involved in their roles as well, and they often meet with CTOs from other companies, which is something I hadn't considered.
Did you attend the CTO sessions? If so, what did you take from it? Who did you meet and what was your favorite part?
In this panel, each panelist answered 2 of 4 questions:
* How do you realize your career's off-track?
* How can you get it back on track?
* What are some related women-specific issues?
* How does the discussion vary for forced versus voluntary changes?
AP started by pointing out that it's important to first understand what you want. Understand what "on track" means to you. Do you enjoy what you do, are you proud of it? At one point, she felt she was stagnating and went back to school to get her third master's.
MH never felt her career was off-track, though others might have said it was. She recommended being unafraid to make lateral moves, knowing your priorities, and talking to people. When you make a change, make sure your "career sponsors" (such as previous managers or people you worked with) know about it and why you're doing it.
CL also never thought of her career as being offtrack, but as a continuum that she had to keep re-visiting. She pointed out that goals will change over time; 30 years ago, she didn't know this is what she'd be doing. Again, she reiterated the importance of enjoying what you do. If you do enjoy it, you are passionate about it and it helps you go forward, especially early in your career. Again, it's also good to tell people what you want, both mentors and managers. In terms of voluntary versus forced career changes, she recommended that if it's voluntary, don't get "too comfortable" in a position. If it's forced, look for the learning opportunity and what it can do for you.
AK said women are more likely to take time away from the paid workforce. Therefore, think about a career change as something that's more likely than not to happen, especially by the time you're over 40. Also think of yourself as having a skill set rather than a job. And a bright side of forced change is that it can minimize the amount of time you spend fearing change, which may be one of the most debilitating factors in a voluntary career change.
RG realized careers can go off-track for reasons like self-applied pressure and self-doubt. Trying to chart an ideal career track based on things you "should" be doing in order to prove yourself can actually move your career off-track instead. She learned this herself after 2.5 years of pain trying to follow a track she "should" follow. Instead, look at your own priorities (for both voluntary and forced changes), and remember that a career track need not be vertical.
There was plenty of interesting audience comments and discussion. Topics included:
* How are things different in a small versus large company?
* How do you make the move from a stable job when you want more (and what is the harm in not making the move)?
* What one skill did each person carry across careers?
And now, it would be great if you could also share your experiences and responses to some of these questions / topics! Have you changed careers? How far do you agree with the panelists? What skills do you find the most transferable?
It was interesting to hear all the speakers note that there were too fewer women in our field, and that as you go higher you tend to see fewer technical women, and that they would like to change that.
The panelists gave some interesting characteristics of good technical leaders:
- Being a technical leader requires passion about technology and the work
- You need to be able to work well with your team by setting an example, dividing the work and making it a partnership
- Give credit to people who help make the work happen, and take responsibility for the mistakes
- You have to be competent technically
- Take on a high-risk project that no one wants and that will help you build your career
- it's ok to work on a project that fails, just like Fran mentioned in her talk
- Above all, take risks!!
- Every person (i.e. on your team) needs to feel like you acknowledge them and listen to them
- Celebrate and recognize successes
- Leadership happens through conversations: every interaction is an opportunity for leadership and influence
Have you used any of these tips in your own career? Or, if you are a student, do you see ways to use these ideas in your student life?
Jack Johnson sings, but in the first Sesion of October 2, the panelists seemed like they were singing the same song, I mean they we're just reunited in Torreys Peak III of the Conference Center in Keystone, Colorado, sharing experiences of the projects that they do. They emphasize that they're not competition with each other, they work together to achieve more to more. These organizations are everywhere, Turkey, Africa, Germany, UK, where women in the world could make projects for the local community.
Fran is a legend in our community, but I still learned something new about her. I'd known about her graduate education and background in mathematics, but hadn't known she originally took a degree in education! No wonder she has consistently been involved with mentoring without her career - it's an example I think we should all look to follow.
Fran started her talk by outlining her work at IBM, including STRETCH (1956-1961) and HARVEST (1958-1962). These projects made advances in both hardware and compilers. But beyond the projects, she wrote papers, went on sabbatical at NYU, and went back to IBM research.
When she returned to IBM Research, she noticed a glass ceiling that hadn't seemed to have been there before. Fran has an interesting insight as to why: she noticed that at this time, computer science emerged as a profession, with better standards for what one needed to know in order to get a job in the field. Companies hired based on a set criteria, often pulling students from engineering schools, which were mostly populated by men. Prior to this time, these standards weren't in place and people from many different educational backgrounds entered the field, leaving more opportunity for women to get involved.
Whither Computing Science?
Fran next talked about where she thinks Computer Science is headed next. She explained a bit of background on Moore's Law and talked about parallelism as a solution. John Hennessy says, "[This is] the biggest problem Computer Science has ever faced.", but Fran has an answer: "[This is] the best opportunity we will ever have to improve user productivity, program performance, and system integrity." I liked Fran's positive approach and how she viewed the challenge as an opportunity.
Where Have All the Women Gone?
Fran mentioned that so many women she worked with were deserving of so much more recognition than they got, although many man were too. Fran wants to change this, especially the way we do recognitions. Just like mentoring, this is highly important. It's important for both men and women, but equity is lacking.
Fran's Hopes for the Future
Fran has high hopes, among which:
- She wants to see a new generation of women experience the excitement she feels for the field.
- She wants to see women creating the workplace that meets their needs
- She wants to see CS become a core science of more interest to women (and others).
- She wants to see us achieve Anita's goal: 50-50 by 2020!
- She wants to enjoy the company of many more women Turing Award winners!
I really enjoyed Fran's talk and I'd be interesting in hearing what you thought of it too! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The networking event was an eye-opener for me. The community volunteers have done a great job in updating the wiki and you can find the post for this session here. I'd like to bring your attention to three things that I had not thought of before and helped me see things from a different perspective.
- Work less! Upon hearing this, most of the members of my table (including me :)!) said "huh?". But, after I heard Jo's logic, I was like "that totally makes sense!". Hard work attracts more hard work. However, it doesn't really make you visible. Instead, taking 5-10% time off of your work and networking and building meaningful and synergistic relationships would really make you more visible.
- Create a networking plan. This was something I never thought about previously. Her idea was to create a table with two columns. The left-side column denotes "who" of your networks (who will you build relationships with). The right-side column denotes "how" of your networks (how will you build those relationships). By brainstorming and coming up with possible techniques, you have a plan to network and hence are more prepared to build the relationship in a proactive manner.
- Practice the 30-second commercial. I heard about the 'elevator' talk long before and had actually mentally prepared a few sentences about myself before coming here. Jo had a structured networking event soon after her talk where the participants practiced their commercial (in pairs). I was surprised to know that what I mentally rehearsed was not what was coming out of my mouth! It was nice that we had quite a good number of practice trials. I'm more confident of my elevator speech now than I had been half a day earlier.
To summarize - work less (work smartly, and spend the rest of time networking), create a networking plan and practice your 30-second commercial to build a great network and become more visible!
Anyone else have any suggestions for things to check out?
- Student/I'm looking for a job
- Women in Computer Science chair
- Your name
- Job Title/Personal Brand
- I am responsible for/take care of/specialize in X, Y, Z
- Come to me if you need A, B, C
Tip 1) Instead of saying just "Hello", try to say "Hello (followed by the name of the person)
Tip 2) While parting, instead of saying a simple "Bye", try to say "Bye (followed by the name of the person)". Example, "Bye Ritu" :-).
Tip 3) Use the name of the person as many number of times as you can in the conversation. Example, instead of saying, "I think you have an excellent research topic", try saying, "I think you have an excellent research topic (followed by the name of the person)
Tips 1, 2, and 3 will help you remember the name by the rote learning method.
Tip 4) Try to create memory maps. Break the name down into smaller parts that you are familiar with. Example, break "Ritu" into "Re" as in repeating and the number "two". It's easy to register new information in your memory if you can identify with it in part or whole.
Tip 5) Be a good listener :-). Be attentive when the person is introducing herself/himself.
Tip 6) Associate an image to the name. For example, if you meet someone with the name "Ritu Arora", think about "Aurora Borealis" and associate that picture with the name.
Tip 7) Try rhyming ...cool isn't it? For example when I met "Ling Yang", I thought "Ling Yang, staying young" or when I met someone with the name "Jill", I thought, "Jill set to kill". The point here is spending some time and effort to conciously register the name in your mind.
Some of the tips might sound silly but they get your mind working on remembering the names. Making that extra effort is the core. I hope the tips help. Have fun.