Thursday, October 16, 2014

ACM-W Connections, October 2014

ACM-W Connections                         October, 2014

View the full ACM-W Connections at (
table of contents:
Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Welcome to the October issue of ACM-W Connections. And what an exciting month it has been since our September issue! This issue includes a write-up about the ACM-W Celebration event in Goa, India. We have a very interesting article about the “applauds project” at Lawrence Livermore Lab, a project that should be replicable elsewhere. We also have a report from a group of very committed high school students in Mason, Ohio, who put together a summer camp for middle school girls.
I’ve just come home from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Amazingly, I have now attended 13 of the 14 GHCs that have taken place, including the very first one in 1994. As some of you reading this already know, the conference was huge this year! There were 8000 attendees, over 2800 students from 441 schools, and attendees from 67 countries. The exhibition hall was a beehive of activity and we had a lot of traffic in the joint ACM/ACM-W/ACM CCECC/CSTA booth, making lots of great contacts amongst our various constituencies.
We have some very exciting news that I announced first at the Hopper conference. ACM-W is working with Mentornet with a goal of getting at least half of all undergraduate women CS students in the U.S. mentored via the Mentornet platform. Microsoft Research is supporting this effort by providing funding to Mentornet and encouraging their staff to sign up to be mentors (though we fully expect that mentors from many many companies will eventually be needed). We will be sending our ACM-W student chapters information on how to join and sign up for a mentor. If you know of an ACM-W chapter that has lapsed, encourage them to sign back up so that they don’t miss out on this opportunity.
In a last note about the Hopper Conference, I would be remiss if I did not address the uproar about the remarks made by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. In case you missed it, in response to a question asked by Maria Klawe (president of Harvey Mudd College and member of Microsoft’s Board of directors), Nadella said that women should not ask for pay raises (in truth, he said nobody should ask for raises, but Maria’s question was specifically about women). He said he trusted in the review system, and that if someone’s work is good it would eventually be rewarded. As you can imagine, the conference and the web lit up, followed soon thereafter by all other forms of media as well.
Here are my thoughts on this matter:
1.      As a result of the ruckus, the Grace Hopper Celebration and the situation for women in computing got more press and more visibility than ever before. That’s a very good outcome.
2.      The situation provided a great opportunity for people to talk about the fact that meritocracy does not work when there is implicit bias. Nadella may think that the Microsoft review process is fair and unbiased, but given that women in tech in the U.S. earn only $0.86 for every $1.00 earned by men, he should seriously research what the actual numbers are for Microsoft, and then adjust salaries accordingly.
3.      This incident provided a very valuable lesson for the students at the conference. The companies recruiting at Hopper are trying very hard to improve their diversity statistics. The conference gives them access to a lot of women job candidates, and they treat the students very well (fancy swag, food, private events, interview booths, raffles, etc.). It would be easy for the students to be deluded into thinking that everything is great now in the tech world and women are always well treated. Nadella’s comments serve as a reminder that women entering the field still have to be prepared to advocate for themselves when they negotiate starting salaries and subsequent raises.
4.      I don’t doubt for a minute that Nadella, along with many other tech CEOs right now, considers himself a strong advocate for women in computing. He is noteworthy for being the first tech CEO of that level to come to Hopper, and he spent a lot of time there. He still has some things to learn, as do many people in this field. As we know, there are many hearts and minds that need to be changed, and more to be learned by even some of our best allies.
Thanks, as always, for supporting ACM-W and women in computing. We still have a ways to go in our efforts.
~Valerie Barr, ACM-W Chair

Articles of interest

·         Applauding Livermore Women in Computing
A new project of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Women's Association recognizes the technical and administrative of women at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Read more this project and women it recognizes here.
·         Research Focus: Learning Game Design Characteristics through the Study of Flow and the Elemental Tetrad in the World of Warcraft & Minecraft. By Dr. Quiana Bradshaw, DCS
Dr. Quiana Bradshaw researches the design of education games. Learn more about her latest work read the full article here.
·         Introduction to Computing Summer Camp. By Jessica Xiang and Sara Xiang
The AspireIT Middle School Outreach Program by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) introduces middle school girls to computer science through innovative curriculum lead by near-peer high school and college students. For more information about this program, read the full article here.

News From ACM-W Chapters

The ACM-W Chapters project leaders met many chapter leaders at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. One woman told us to give Zarina (at ACM Headquarters in New York City) a big hug for all of the help with setting up her chapter. Remember that ACM @NYC can give you one-on-one help in chartering a chapter, in writing the brief annual report, etc. In fact, there is a wonderful one-on-one webinar for all new chapters. For more information, email

ACM-W Celebrations  

All India Celebrations of Women in computing conference at Goa University on 26th September.

  • The 3rd Annual International Women’s Hackathon at Grace Hopper and Around the World on Oct. 11, 2014.
  • Microsoft Research is accepting applications for the 2015 Microsoft Research Graduate Women's Scholarship Program.
  • Would you like to contribute an article to the ACM-W Newsletter? With a distribution list reaching thousands of ACM-W members, contributing to the newsletter is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and information across a wide audience. Submit a proposal for an article

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