Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Hi all,
It's been a while since I posted here but I've been asked to post my contribution to Ada Lovelace Day, the international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. I've posted it below - hope you enjoy it!

Last year, I wrote about one of my first technical mentors, Lee McIntyre. This year I thought I'd write about someone I didn't personally know, but who is having a world-wide impact and who is behind some of the latest innovations in laptop technology: Mary Lou Jepsen.

I first heard Mary Lou Jepsen speak at the Grace Hopper Conference in 2008. I'd heard about One Laptop per Child (OLPC) but didn't know much about the company or Jepsen herself.

If you haven't heard about it, OLPC is a project to create a low-cost, cheap, durable laptop that could be used by kids in developing countries. The laptops are networked to enable communication over long distances. Here's their mission statement:

"To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future."

Jepsen's talk was inspiring, and we certainly did see examples of children engaged in their own education through OLPC. For instance, Jepsen talked about a young girl who started a 'laptop hospital' in Egypt for her friends, repairing their OLPCs if they got broken.

Not only did Jepsen succeed with her vision, but she was also able to make technical innovations along the way, particularly with the screen of the laptop. She used her background in Holography and Optical Science (she has a Master of Science in the former from the MIT Media Lab and a PhD in the latter from Brown University) to invent sunlight-readable display technology and co-invented the OLPC's ultra-low power management system. At the time, the XO OLPC was the lowest-power laptop ever made. You can even charge your OLPC by turning a crank, which is useful in places without easy access to electricity!

There are other ways Mary Lou Jepsen is inspiring particularly to me. Her degrees in physics-related fields gave me confidence that someone with a background in physics (me) could study Computer Science and be successful in this field. She's also an entrepreneur, having founded four companies prior to working on OLPC, and at least one after (Pixel Qi). I had my own business during my undergraduate years, so it was cool to know that entrepreneurial skills are useful and valued in technology! Jepsen also works on socially-minded projects, and it's wonderful to see that in technology, you can apply your creativity and skills to projects like this and still gain professionally.

What's she working on now? I was so happy to learn that at her new company, Jepsen is working on a screen that has an E-ink AND regular laptop screen mode. One device can do both! I've been waiting for this for years. If you'd like to learn more, check out Mary Lou Jepsen's blog.

Ada Lovelace Day: A Researcher I Admire

I love Ada Lovelace Day. It's so inspiring to see all the amazing technical women I've never heard of (and some more famous ones I have heard of) being written about all over the world! I participated last year, and sure wasn't going to miss it this year.

I wrote about a researcher I admire. The interesting thing is that she's in the exact same year of grad school as I am, so you might not expect her to be someone I look up to. But, as you will see, I have good reason to.
I met Michelle for the first time at last year's CRA-W Grad Cohort in San Francisco. We were both second year grad students, so we happened to sit at the same table when given time to mingle with our cohort.

I quickly learned that although Michelle was also a second year grad student like me, she was much further ahead in her research. In fact, she had finished her Masters thesis in January! She was going to do her PhD in September and work on cool stuff until then. She told me about the projects she'd been working on, and I just couldn't help but be impressed.
Check out the rest of this post on my blog.

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, GHC celebrates two prominent women in technology

March 24th marks Ada Lovelace Day, an important date where we recognize women in technology. According to the FindingAda website, we are supposed to "blog to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science". We who plan the Grace Hopper Celebration do this every day! We talk to hundreds of fabulous technical women - we love our jobs!

So to celebrate Ada, this blog is dedicated to two of our GHC2010 keynote speakers who are so inspiring and deserve celebration days of their own: Barbara Liskov and Duy-Loan Le.

Duy-Loan Le is a Senior Fellow at Texas Instruments who started on her journey in technology at the age of 12 coming to America with very little other than a drive to make things happen. At 16 she graduated valedictorian from her high school and a short time later, a BSEE Magna Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Austin.

I knew very little about Duy-Loan until I read her nomination to receive the 2008 Women of Vision Award for Leadership. Her struggle to come to the US, to achieve a stellar academic background and to be the only woman fellow at Texas Instruments in its 80 year history is quite spectacular.

But it doesn't stop there - she has a huge following in the Vietnamese community. Duy-Loan’s service to the community is extensive. Among the many things that she does in America and internationally, she most enjoys providing education assistance for children and supporting social economic developments projects in 12 different countries through two 501c3 organizations, the Mona Foundation and the Sunflower Mission.

I see a lot of acceptance speeches and profiles of great women but her speech and profile are among the best I have ever seen. I have included the links here to her YouTube videos. Married for 27 years with children at that level, she has a lot of great advice for all of us.

Barbara Liskov is a Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT and is the second woman ever to win the Turing Award. Barbara has a long history with the ABI community and was the first keynote speaker at the very first Grace Hopper Celebration back in 1994. Liskov is known for developing not one but two programming languages - CLU in the 1970's and Argus in the 1980's which formed underpinnings for languages like Java and C++. She reminds me a great deal of Grace Hopper herself - a creator of programmung languages and an academic.

We look forward to hearing both of these prestigious women at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration in Atlanta in September. Mark your calendars - it's an opportunity to meet and talk with many great women like these.

Let me know who you admire as a woman in technology? Blog about her. Today is the day :-)

-Deanna Kosaraju

deannak *at* anitaborg dot org


This is a cross post to the Grace Hopper Newsfeed

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Apply for a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper 2010 Conference!

In case you missed the press release, applications are now open for the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). GHC scholarships cover a combination of registration, meals, lodging and a fixed amount of travel expenses. The deadline to apply for a scholarship to attend this year's conference is May 14th.

Here are a few things you may not know about GHC scholarships.
  • Last year, 311 Grace Hopper 2009 participants attended on scholarships.
  • Students are not the only participants who can receive GHC scholarships: Junior faculty and employees of nonprofits and NGOs are also eligible to apply.
  • Participating in the conference will increase your chances of getting a scholarship. Since some of the program submission deadlines have been extended, take this opportunity to submit a proposal. Deadlines are March 30th for PhD Forum and New Investigators; April 6th for Technical Poster.
For more information or to apply for a scholarship see

Monday, March 8, 2010

Who do you know that we can recognize through our GHC Awards?

by Telle Whitney, President & CEO, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Editor's Note: This was originally posted on the Anita Borg Institute blog. I'm cross-posting it here to help spread the word to our GHC community.

Some of the most important work we do at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology is to recognize women who are changing the face of technology. Recognizing women role models is not only important for the award winner, but also for the millions of women who look up and say yes, I can have an impact too. As you read this, recognize that you know some extraordinary women who would be perfect candidates for our awards, and that I need your help.

Our awards recognize extraordinary people, whose work contributes to a changing perception of what it means to create and use technology. We need people who can nominate someone they admire. It doesn’t have to be you writing the nomination, but I bet you know someone who could put together a nomination.

Do you know a man or a woman academic under the age of 40, who has demonstrated leadership capability and who has had a positive impact on the lives of women through technology?

If so, consider nominating them for the Denice Denton Award., which includes a $5K award.

Do you know an outstanding woman who is recognized world wide as a technical leader? Please consider nominating them for the Anita Borg Technical Leadership award, which includes a $10K award.

Do you know an individual or team who has caused technology to have a positive impact on the lives of women and society? Please consider nominating them for the Anita Borg Social Impact award, which includes a $10K award

Do you know technical women from developing countries, who are up-and-coming leaders that advance women’s participation in technology? If so, please consider nominating them for the Anita Borg Change Agent Awards

All of these awards are given out at the Grace Hopper Conference Awards Ceremony, held on September 30, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Nominations will be accepted until April 29th.

There is no more fulfilling work than nominating someone you admire, and knowing that you are having a positive impact on their life and the lives of technical women everywhere!!

GHC Bloggers Latest Updates