Beki Grinter

Women in Computing, our accomplishment and a charge: An Ada Lovelace Tribute

In academia, computer science on March 24, 2010 at 11:10 am

This blog post is a tribute to Ada Lovelace, and a reflection on Women in Computing. Many blog posts are likely to be about women in computing today, and this group organized a pledge that I signed.

So, in writing this post I faced a dilemma. Who to write about? I know so many women in Computing. I thought about starting with my Mother who is not a woman in computing perse but who was an early advocate for me becoming one. She was right that computers were going to be a big deal, when she first saw the PET computer that my Dad brought home from work. It was pre-PC, and while not pre-the Internet it was pre-that explosion of mainstream use it would start to see in the 1990s. It was of course the late 1970s. She nailed it I think.

I turned back to who should I write about, and perhaps it’s because I work in Human Computer Interaction. There are my excellent colleagues, Andrea Thomaz, Amy Bruckman, Beth Mynatt, Rosa Arriaga and Melody Moore-Jackson. In the School of Interactive Computing more most excellent colleagues, Nancy Nersessian, Janet Kolodner, Karen Liu and Ellen Do. In the College of Computing, even more, Ellen Zegura, Mary Jean Harrold, Barb Ericson and among those I’ve had the most interaction with.

And that’s just some of the faculty in the CoC.

I supervise four awesome women in computing Ph.D students, Marshini Chetty, Andrea Grimes, Ja-Young Sung, and Susan Wyche. And that’s the just the students I supervise, I am the Program Coordinator (which is fancy terminology for shameless cheerleader) for our Human-Centered Computing Ph.D. program. And it’s not that the male students don’t rock, but today its about the focus on women in computing, and they are certainly a force for women in computing if ever there was one. And I am pleased to say that women constitute the majority of the students enrolled in the HCC PhD program. And this of course does not include our wonderful M.S. students, one of whom I supervise Vasudhara Kantroo, and the awesome Tech undergraduates, which include Mansi Sharma who is completing her undergraduate thesis with me.

And then there are my colleagues in the invisible college that I occupy, one that has largely been focused on HCI (with brief forays into the worlds of Software Engineering, Robotics, Security, and Networking). I know I can’t possibly list everyone, but shout outs to Susan Dray, Mary Czerwinski, Stacie Hibino, Jodi Forlizzi, Phoebe Sengers, Judy Olson, Julie Kientz, Bonnie Nardi, Lena Mamykina, Gloria Mark, Crista Lopes, Annie Anton, Andrea Forte, Gillian Hayes, Sara Kiesler, Teresa Lunt, Pam Hinds, Katie Siek, Leysia Palen, Martha Pollock, Stephanie Teasley, AJ Brush, Wendy Kellogg, Andrea Tapia, Debra Richardson, Doree Duncan Seligmann, Leigh Star, Lalita Jagadeesan, Lorrie Cranor, Elizabeth Churchill, Marilyn Whalen, Eleanor Wynn, Eileen Kramer, Ellen Isaacs, Gina Venolia, Helen Greiner, Mary Beth Rosson, Jana Sedivy, Sara Bly, Janet Vertesi, Victoria Bellotti, Jenna Burrell, Jen Mankoff, Diana Smetters… this is a partial list…

Perhaps this post is beginning to look like a post that might be construed as advocating that we don’t call out women in computing, or as if women in computing is somehow solved. I don’t think that’s the case. This is a really good start. But, we know that women are still not drawn to computing in the numbers that men are. And in the end I can’t help thinking that we’re missing a really good talent pool. One that could help us on our increasingly exciting voyage of participating in societal changes brought about through and with computing technology. One that could help us continue to design new services, products, and systems that perhaps given our perspectives (many different perspectives) reach out to and engage with all the audiences that there are for computing’s contributions.

But, today is a time to reflect on women in computing. For me it’s a day to thank you. Thank you all. I am quite sure I owe each and every one of you something for my own continued status as a woman in computing. And I will continue to remain here, not just because I am lucky to do the thing I most love, but so that I can share what emerges with you all. (or y’all as they say in the south).

And of course thanks to all the men who also believe in women in computing and support and encourage our presence.

But, I want to end with a charge to us all. We have made great strides, and I think we’d all agree that it’s of great benefit. What if we could imagine in a few short years writing similar posts about underrepresented minorities in Computing. We have made great strides, but there is much work to be done. Women of Computing, let us take up this new challenge, because we know the benefits…

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  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beki Grinter and Susan Wyche, Susan Dray. Susan Dray said: RT @beki70: women in computing: an ada lovelace tribute post http://wp.me/phSsV-fw […]

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