Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Grace Hopper Flickr group, as are many others. Be sure to check it out!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I recently found myself part of a brief, yet intriguing conversation about the relationships between the types of men and women that often find themselves in the field of science and engineering. Now being a guy, I've always tried to distance myself from the typical computer science male image. Sure, we're intelligent but often the attractive qualities end there. So I just tell people I moonlight as a male model. Image problem solved! But yet, there are still a majority of guys in the field whose "S" skills are doggin on my rep. By "S", I mean social. How am I supposed to fulfil my goal as the ultimate and smooth computer science playa? haha...I kid of course!
Now, most women in the field's "S" skills are quite normal. So being a minority, they really have no choice but to interact with the uninteractable. I'm told this is especially difficult when meeting someone new (arguably a slightly awkward experience already). Typically new introductions are a task of tuning frequencies to find the right wavelength for communication between two people. (In layperson's terms, you try crap out until something works.) When dealing with a person whose transmitter is broken, this can be especially challenging. By the way, where are the engineers to fix this problem?
A few of the women of WISE shared a few techniques with me for anecdotal purposes. Do they work? Well I don't know. But they're definitely interesting. My personal favourite is the hug approach. Hug a new computer science guy you meet. That definitely breaks the ice! Maybe I should try this on some of the WISE women at the next event? I can't think of anything that could POSSIBLY go wrong doing that... No? Oh well, I guess it's different for women. Still I realized how challenging this can sometimes be. I mean sure, I deal with these personality types too. But I likely have a better understanding of the male mind and so I have a bit of an upper edge in these situations.
I guess my point is that I had a little bit of a light bulb moment. For the record, I like light bulb moments. Naturally, I never really thought about these kinds of interactions from a women's point of view. But I felt it was an interesting discovery in every man's endless quest to understand the female mind :-).
Either way, us guys try our best to communicate (social skills or not). And women try their best to communicate. And somehow, we get the job done. Often with very interesting chemistry!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Arriving in Tucson, we were pleasantly surprised by the warm weather, the cacti/pal trees (see picture), and the mountains!
Unfortunately, we're sitting here in our hotel without our luggage :( How are we going to brush our teeth? I guess we'll ask the front desk for some emergency supplies...
Saturday, September 26, 2009
We've mentioned the conference a few times on this blog before (see tags GHC08 and ghc09), but once we leave for Tucson, we'll be blogging more than ever about it! So stay tuned to this site (or the official Grace Hopper blog) to experience this amazing event with us. And who knows... maybe you'll get excited enough about it to join us next year!
Friday, September 25, 2009
I'm part of a group of amazing women who are presenting a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session at 4:30 on Thursday October 1. It's called Support Groups for Women in STEM: International Perspectives:
Retaining women in STEM fields has been a challenge globally. Studies suggest that peer support, mentoring, and female role models help. This session brings together student leaders from around the world to discuss the strategies and challenges of building and sustaining support groups. Are these groups working? Surprising results from our research will be presented in this interactive discussion with group leaders.I'm really excited about this talk. The five executives of Carleton University's Women in Science and Engineering (aka CU-WISE) - Barbora, Natalia, Serena, Lindsay, and me - will be showing you how we rebuilt our group. We started only a couple of years ago from nothing, but you wouldn't know it if you saw us today! We believe everyone can be successful in creating a similar support group, whether it be for students or industry professionals.
The second part of the talk is also going to be very interesting. Students from the Women in Computer Science group at Simon Fraser University and from MenTe (Mujeres en Tecnologia) in Mexico will tell us about their research on how well these student support groups are actually working.
Whether you can attend our talk or not, you can participate in the conversation! We have set up a website called Support Groups for Women in STEM, where we have posted all kinds of useful links and resources for you. We hope you will leave comments on the pages and come with all kinds of great ideas and questions in Tuscon!
Man Talk Workshop
This workshop focuses on how young men can take a leadership role in addressing issues of dating violence.
Included in the workshop are the need for clear, respectful communication in relationships, and practical ways young men can take a leadership role in addressing this type of violence on campus.
The event takes place on Oct. 16 from 8:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. in Porter Hall. It's a free event for students and lunch will be provided.
[More information, including registration here]
I'm glad to see Carleton offering this, and I hope it's well attended!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Why High Tech Needs Women Executives
Computerworld, September 8
Joyce Brocaglia, founder of the Executive Women's Forum, takes a closer look at the opportunities available for women in high tech and explains why gender diversity at the IT executive level matters. As Brocaglia explains, many companies are beginning to recognize that gender balancing is good for business. In short, the corporations that are taking actions to identify, promote and retain high-potential women are reaping the benefits. According to recent studies, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the board gained a significant performance advantage over those with the fewest. Moreover, those companies with the most women on their senior teams showed superior growth in equity, operational results and share price.
The issue of women as leaders is no longer simply about equal employment opportunity, it's also a matter of smart business. In 2003, Brocaglia responded to the needs of executive women in the fields of information security, privacy and risk management and founded the Executive Women's Forum. What began as one-on-one conversations about gathering like-minded women together to build a trusted network has evolved into a community of more than 500 of the most influential women in their fields who have attended national conferences, regional meetings and interact through an online community. The community has been so successful since it is a "safe place" where women gather and are willing to be authentic in sharing their successes and challenges and discuss issues that they are wrestling with.
The Executive Women’s Forum has created a culture that is confidential, inclusive, empowering, inspiring and supportive. Each year the EWF holds a national conference where nearly 200 women gather for candid conversations, interactive panel discussions, and formal and informal networking events. It all leads to women getting to know each other at a much deeper level and building lifelines that last long after the event is over. Active members of the EWF are exposed to other women that have chosen not to "opt out" and have created their own path to the executive suite. Their career ladders more often resemble career lattices and members gain insight into how other women balance and attain professional success and personal fulfillment.
Click Here to View Full Article
Monday, September 21, 2009
And all of these women are based in Ontario!
The first-annual event, called Women of Energy, was also about highlighting the progress that women have made in the sector, and the need to build a support network that also encourages female ranks to grow.
Why now? The invitation to the event explained it simply: "For the first time in Canadian energy history, there are three female presidents at the leading energy utilities."
from left to right: Laura Formusa, president and chief executive officer of Hydro One. Janet Holder, president of Enbridge Gas Distribution. Julie Dill, president of Union Gas.
Somebody pinch me, I think I'm dreaming. Definitely looking forward to looking into this some more as I am quite passionate about sustainable energy, female support networks, and having a leadership role.
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions asked of Formusa – the only one of the power trio with children – was about balancing a career with being a mother. "We have to show our children that moms can do it without killing themselves. That's why a support network is so important," she says.
Enbridge's Holder says it's a network the energy sector has lacked. "It's hard for women to look inside their organization and find other women with a similar life and values." Enbridge, Union Gas and Hydro One have agreed to take turns hosting the annual event, with an eye to building the network across Canada.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
- Making friends is important, not only for your sanity but also for academic success in later years. You need people you can trust for those group projects!
- If your TA can't speak English, complain. A few years ago, they made it possible for TAs to be sent to remedial English training. It's free for the TA, and they don't lose their future TA jobs, so you're pretty much doing everyone a favour by helping them learn to do their job better.
- It may seem that everyone else is way ahead of you in class. But actually, a lot of other people are just stupidly arrogant. You're probably way more awesome than you think, and other people are probably struggling with the same things you struggle with.
- Your course schedule may not work out every year. If you're in a smaller degree program, you might even find that it's not possible to complete your degree without substituting things because your required courses are offered at the same time! If you run up against a wall, talk to the undergraduate/graduate advisor in your department. They can help figure out what to do.
- If you have any problem with registration or any other administrative thing, make sure to talk to the admin staff in person. Our administrative staff is excellent, and they can solve a lot of problems that the computer systems deem impossible. Just remember to be polite, and try to show up when they're not busy!
- You can skip classes by challenging for credit. It costs money, but can get you out of stuff that would be a waste of your time. That said, easy As are great ways to buoy up your scholarship marks if you're willing to sit around being bored. (that's what I did in first year.)
- You can take upper year classes early, sometimes without prerequisites, if you're willing to work for it. Sit in on the first few classes and then ask the prof to sign the necessary paperwork when you're more sure, or just ask them for their advice. You can also take graduate courses as an undergraduate! (I did this, and it's how I wound up doing graduate school!) Graduate courses sometimes have an easier workload than the undergraduate ones, but you'll have to do a lot more independent thinking, so be prepared!
- If you're struggling in a class very early on, it's perfectly ok to drop classes and take them later. Sometimes the prof's teaching style won't mesh with your learning style and you should take it with someone else, sometimes you're just too busy with other courses. Before you drop anything, though, make sure you do it properly in the system before the drop date so you don't get an F, make sure you can take the class later or substitute another class, and make sure it's not a prerequisite that will mess up your schedule for the next term!
- Find a few good places to hang out and spend more time on campus. Having a place you can sit where you can let off steam with a game of cards, meet up with your friends, curl up on a couch for an hour, or even just buy cheaper snacks/coffee can be invaluable. I lived off-campus as an undergraduate and tended to go home frequently in my first year, but I didn't really find a love for Carleton until I started hanging out with the Math Society.
And nowadays, obviously I recommend you all join WISE, too!
So welcome to the new students this year! And for those of you returning, I'm sure you've gotten some great advice too. Got anything you'd like to share?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I vaguely remember high school, but I remember that I felt like a somebody. I did well academically, I won awards and bursaries, all the teachers saw great potential in me, I got along with the "nerds" and the "cool" people (which doesn't really mean anything in life beyond high school), I was voted best dressed in my last year, I discovered I had a passion for writing poetry, I was a Peer Helper Leader, I was a photographer for the Yearbook, and I founded the Anti-Abuse Team. Outside of school I was becoming a kick butt martial artist and spent a lot of time with my family. I believe that my parents worked very hard to make sure I developed strong family values and that I enjoyed spending time with them. As a result, my social life was at a minimum before I reached adulthood. Maybe good, maybe bad, but I seem to have turned out well.
Moving on, when it came time to choose what I wanted to study next, I knew I wanted to get into engineering or computer science. My mom has a master's in civil engineering so she wanted me to go into that. But my primary goal was to study something very challenging as I felt that high school didn't do it for me. Now that I think about it, I believe it was the teachers that made me that confident, hehe. So I chose to go into engineering physics because I liked physics and I didn't want to be restricted only to programming. But the main reason was because it was known as the most difficult program in engineering at Carleton. And so it was.
Undergrad turned out to be the biggest shock of my life. I wasn't at the top of my class anymore and the boys had caught up with me. Even though I ended up ranking 4th out of 11 students in my program (and the top female) and 30th out of all 354 engineering students, I still felt like a fraud. I condemned myself that I didn't do it alone. I survived the program because I got a lot of help from the "smart ones" and because I had the discipline to work hard. What a wake up call that was. I remember consistently being stressed and pressed for time, I was jealous of anyone who had a weekend off, and I can admit that there were days when I broke down into tears. On the positive side, I think the Engineering Physics Program was still the best choice for me as it was like going to the academic army. I obviously got what I asked for. Engineering physics students became problem-solving soldiers. For example, we were taught to write down all assumptions, be very precise in our error analysis, to never ever forget units, and to always explain all the possible causes of error in our results. We began to realize that the results didn't matter as much as the accuracy of the results and how the accuracy could be increased. But enough with the nerdy talk.
Upon graduation, I decided I'm still not smart enough to enter the real world. So I signed up for grad school in the department of electronics. But meanwhile I went backpacking to Europe. After the 2-month trip, I didn't want to come back to school but at the same time I knew travelling some more was going to make me feel unaccomplished. So I came back and started my thesis early. For 2 months I researched possible topics for my thesis and it was in those 2 months that I somehow got into WISE. I remember the exact steps that I took to get there. One, I felt liberated of my primary duty to get a bachelor's degree. Two, I missed the good old days in high school when I was more involved in my school community. And three, I was very upset I didn't get an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) or an OGS (Ontario Graduate) scholarship. I'm not sure if I should be ashamed of this but that's when it hit me the most. I thought, man I worked so hard, had good grades, and even published a research paper, but still I wasn't good enough. So I googled "women, engineering, and Carleton" and found a crappy looking website about Carleton's WISE group. I thought to myself: this is my chance to show them there's more to me than they think. I knew I wasn't an average engineer with average skills and most definitely not an average woman.
The WISE Carleton representative, Tarah, got back to me and invited me for coffee. When I met her at Rooster's, I was surprised to see that another woman was there to meet Tarah. Her name was Serena and she was in computer science. That meeting was another shock in my life because I felt like I just got connected to a whole new world and it made my heart smile. A few months later Serena and I recruited Gail, Natalia and Lindsay, and all 5 of us re-built Carleton's WISE group (and that website is definitely far from crappy looking now). My primary goal wasn't to help more women get scholarships as that is the train of thought that led me to be involved in this group. Upon meeting these awesome women, I realized that they are the support group I needed to help me reach my goals... and I wanted to help other women attain that too. By the way, I ended up getting that OGS scholarship in my second year of grad school as well as a Carleton Graduate Student Association Honour Award for my work with WISE, and a scholarship to help pay for attending the Grace Hopper conference this year (I also applied last year but didn't receive one).
So how has WISE benefited me? I never know where to start when someone asks me that. Here is my short answer: I now have an awesome support group of women executives who I want to one day start a business with. Who would have thought that I'd have the ambition and the confidence for that? Not to mention that it's not easy to find a group of people you get along with in a business environment. All 5 of us have a wide range of knowledge and abilities, but we share common values and goals, which make us a great team. If you're interested in reading more about what I learned through WISE, I wrote a blog about it on the Grace Hopper blog here.
I am now trying to develop my own vision in hopes of attaining it one day. But I will never forget to give back to my community and I will never forget WISE.
Friday, September 11, 2009
My friend Sacha is a self-confessed shy person who is also good at meeting new people, giving presentations... typical extrovert stuff. And she does it all without defeating her shyness, but rather finding ways to connect that don't require her to be outgoing.
Check out her tips on being a shy connector. My favourite tip involves wearing a funny hat (or something else notable) to get people to come up to you and talk, because when I met Sacha I absolutely had to go up to her and ask about her huge camera and tiny computer. It works!
I've embedded her slides below, but it's worth reading her blog post that goes with them, too!
Welcome back to school for 2009-2010!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
What a failure I felt like right then and there. It was as though I'd made it to the thesis portion of my Masters with almost all A+'s, and somehow didn't deserve it. It was as though all the scholarships I'd managed to get throughout my academic career weren't really meant to go to someone like me. I was no researcher - I was an impostor!Read the whole story!
CuWISE has always advertised as offering mentoring and support for current students, any time I hear this my gut reaction is to expect some upper year or grad student genius sitting at a desk with a scared first year or myself trying to get up the courage to ask for help with past experiences causing them to expect to be made to feel inferior. This is by no means always the case or even mostly the case with these types of programs. But I think it’s at least as important if not more so to have a support network including groups of people who don’t set out to be the teacher or mentor but are just there. The groups of students who you can relate to that have gone through and are still going through the same things you are.
I’ve always been shy and if I didn’t really know anyone in class I would go out of my way to have to ask a stranger for help because I always seemed to think that everyone else just got it, that no one else was struggling with material or time management or anything else. It was joining groups like WISE that made me realise that other students were struggling too. It’s the offhand remarks made after events when people are just hanging about that made me realise that I wasn’t alone in my struggles and that it is possible to get through them.
So my advice to all the first year students and everyone else too, is to get involved. Even if WISE is not the group for you, it is your involvement in those not for credit clubs and activities that will make your stay at university memorable and likely play a big role in helping you get through it as well.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Who was the first woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize only 2 years after it was founded and 5 years later won another Nobel Prize? Clue: She discovered the elements Radium and Polonium. She was also the first woman to receive a doctorate in Europe. Answer: Marie Curie
Who was the first woman to become United States Secretary of State. Clue: It was during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Answer: Madeleine Albright.
Was the first programmer recorded in history a man or a woman? Clue: Babbage was mentoring this person. Answer: It was a woman, Ada Lovelace
What American biologist was awarded Nobel Prize in 2004 for her work on the genetics of smell, proving that each cell in our nose can only smell one scent? Answer: Linda Buck from USA
Who was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Clue: A conference, celebrating women in computing, is named after her. WISE executives are attending it for the second time this year. Answer: Grace Hopper
Who is an Academy Award–nominated actress, television producer, literary critic and magazine publisher who is best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show? Clue: Her talk show has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. Answer: Oprah Winfrey
Who was the world's first female aircraft designer and first woman to graduate from electrical engineering at U of T? Clue: She worked as an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War and did much to make Canada a powerhouse of airplane construction. Answer: Elsie MacGill
What woman won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the HIV virus? Clue: She is a French virologist. Answer: Francoise Barre-Sinoussi
What woman won the Nobel Prize in 2007 in literature. Clue: She grew up in Africa but was prohibited to enter the country because of her views on the equality of races. Answer: Doris Lessing
Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India's highest civilian honour for her humanitarian work. Clue: Her Missionaries of Charity continued to expand and at the time of her death it was operating 610 missions in 123 countries. Answer: Mother Teresa
Who is known as the mother of the atomic bomb by discovering nuclear fission? Clue: German version of Marie Curie. Answer: Lise Meitner
Who was the first female senator to represent the US state and the first American First Lady to run for public office? Answer: Hillary Clinton
Who was the first African woman to get a Nobel Prize, which was in 2004? Clue: She founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. Answer: Wangari Maathai
Which woman is best known for her contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA? Clue: She was an English biophysicist, physicist, chemist, biologist. Answer: Rosalind Franklin
Some Career Tips for Joining the Start-Up Economy
Media Post, August 13
While job growth within the broader economy may be stalling, the good news is that we are starting to see a lot of “green-shoot” growth at small companies, especially nimble, fast-moving start-ups. Thus, for IT workers looking for jobs or thinking about career changes, particularly for those in any industry that generally lags the overall economy, the start-up sector is becoming increasingly attractive. With that in mind, the article shares some career tips for those who are considering joining start-up companies.
Success with a new start-up takes much more than desire to work in an exciting and innovative environment. People think that great relationships and a thick Rolodex are keys to success in transitioning from big companies to small, particularly if you are in sales or business development. It's not that simple. When you work for a big company, everybody wants to work with you. When you move to a small firm, the value that you provide is measured by the actual results that you can deliver for customers and partners. This requires really understanding your customers, their needs and your product and obsessing over customer service. You have to ask yourself every day how much real value you created that day, and make yourself essential.
Click Here to View Full Article
Sunday, September 6, 2009
For the first time in history there are more women than men in Canada's workforce. A recently issued labour force survey found that about 7.1 million women were in paid employment during the first half of 2009, compared to 6.9 million men.That means that about 50.7% of the Canadian workforce is female! Read more on CTV.ca here. The article also mentions that women are still paid less than men, about 71 cents on the dollar.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Begin by making sure that your online presence is superb. Networking online is huge. Start with updating your profile on LinkedIn. Find people to connect with and ask people to write you recommendations. Join relevant groups, like the "Ottawa Talent Initiative Alumni and Friends","On Startups - The Community For Entrepreneurs", "Women for Hire", "She Geared", as well as all the groups I listed below. And don't forget to join the below organizations' mailing lists and contact them too.
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) focuses on "stimulating knowledge transfer through the development of bright minds, moving their skills to the market". They provide workshops to help you get your business ideas together. It's focused on research and development in science and technology, but their workshops would help anyone for any business. And best of all the people who teach these workshops (ex. marketing) have a passion for helping young people do what they love in a business setting. I met a few of them and I've seen it.
The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) is "Ottawa's lead economic development corporation bringing business, education and research together to help local technology companies thrive locally and compete globally". They hold lots of events that may help you network and gain knowledge. I know that a while back OCRI and OCE (as well as INSA) organized a keynote presentation by Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak. Unfortunately it cost $60 for members and $80 for non-members, including lunch. I do wish they would have made Steve a little more accessible while he was in town. Oh and look into OCRI's e2 Entrepreneur's Edge Program as well.
Women 2.0 is "committed to increasing the number of women entrepreneurs starting high growth ventures by providing the resources, network, and knowledge for the launch and growth of their company". Their vision is "to be a catalyst for change, mobilizing a global community of ambitious women entrepreneurs seeking to advance the world through technology". Women 2.0 is headquartered in San Francisco. For example, they have contests for best business proposals and help the winner start her business economically and socially. You can find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc..
This should get you on the right track. Just follow your gut and your heart. And drop me a line if this helped! It will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Good luck to you all!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
If you have ever felt like an imposter and you are wondering if there is a cure for it, here’s how the panellists deal with it:
- There is no cure! It never stops (always new responsibilities). Treat the symptoms.
- Believe in yourself and surround yourself with others that believe in you.
- Value the things you’re good at, remember your previous successes. Think about where you were (5-10) years ago.
- Accept self-doubt as part of who you are. Remember how many other people that you believe successful people have doubted themselves.
- Take risks (calculated) ... you’ll stand out.
- You’re not the only one,
- there’s no cure, but
- you can treat the symptoms and
- you’ll eventually feel less imposter with time and practice.