Thursday, September 30, 2010

GHC10: Usable Security

From my blog:
One of the sessions I attended on Wednesday at GHC was a PhD forum. In this special type of session, three PhD students present their research in an hour, and the audience fills in feedback forms to give them suggestions and/or praise. It's a great opportunity.

The first presentation in this particular session was given by Laurian Vega, studying HCI at Virginia Tech. Her research is all about usable security, with a focus on day cares and doctor's offices. Although I'm not a security person by any stretch of the imagination, I found the topic quite interesting.
Read the rest here.

GHC10: The Impact of the Grace Hopper Celebration

In addition to my own blog, I'm writing a few posts for the Communications of ACM blog about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

From my first post:
This year's edition of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is officially underway, and you can almost taste the excitement. Last night I had the opportunity to speak with an external evaluator about my experiences with the conference in an effort to determine what kind of impact it really has. I quite enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my role this year and the previous two years I’ve attended.
Read the rest of the post on CACM.

GHC10: Sight Seeing in Atlanta

One of the coolest things about attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the opportunity to explore new cities with a few other awesome CU-WISE ladies. This year's conference is in Atlanta, and a few of us went to the Atlanta History Center to learn more about life in the south.

I wrote about our trip and posted some photos on my own blog. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scientists for a better PCR, the music video

More random wednesday fun. This is another one for the biologists: a tribute to PCR. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another year off to a good start

Last Wednesday CU-WISE welcomed its new and returning members to another year here at Carleton. With over 40 members in attendace this year's Kick Off event held at Carleton's own Oliver's Pub was a success. Delicious treats, lively conversation and a raffle draw for cool WISE swag opened this year's line up of WISE activities. We hope to see many of you coming out to the other events we are planning for this year. To stay in the loop check out our events page often or sign up for our newsletter.

Grace Hopper 2010 - The Celebration Begins!

Less than 2 days till the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing starts in Atlanta!

I learnt about the conference last year (was too late to register) and ever since then I've been waiting for GHC 2010. Since this will be my first time at the conference, I've been reading blogs from veterans of the conference (check out the GHC blog feed) and following #ghc10 and @ghc on Twitter to get pointers on how to prepare for the week.

And prepare you must! The sheer volume of planned activities is mindboggling, leave alone those impromptu meetings and outings that are bound to happen. I've taken some time to look through the abstracts of the various seminars and mark those that are most interesting to me.

I'm especially excited about the track on Open Source as I am taking a course on Open Source Business as part of my Masters. I hope to share what I learn with my classmates. There will also be a chance to participate in open source development via the Codeathon for Humanity for the Sahana-Eden project. As a facilitator for this event, I'm looking forward to learning more about their disaster management software platform and how I can use my coding skills for social good.

The codeathon is a brilliant example of the conference theme of "Collaborating Across Boundaries" and my aim will be to look at the talks I attend in this broader context.

I'm also eager to meet many of the accomplished women participating this year, especially those interested in mobile platforms and wireless applications and those who (like me) have taken or are interested in a business career path after a technical degree.

The rest I'm leaving to serendipity :)

Gearing Up for Grace Hopper

This year's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is just around the corner, and I'm super excited to head down to Atlanta tomorrow to soak it all in once again! We have five CU-WISE members attending this time from a range of backgrounds, including engineering, computer science, and even math. We'll all be blogging here or on our personal blogs, so keep your eye out for our reports on the fun stuff we do in Atlanta and the informative and inspirational sessions we attend at the conference.

There are a couple of posts from my blog that I want to share. First, I wrote up my list of things I do to get ready for a conference. I did this with Grace Hopper in mind, but if you're thinking of heading to any conference soon, you should find it useful.

Second, I wrote about my personal networking goals:
A great way to gear up for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is to decide what your goals are for when you get there. This year, for the first time, I actually have some specific types of people I want to meet, so this is what I'm going to focus on.
It's really important to figure out what you want to get out of a conference like Grace Hopper before leaving, because it's a whirlwind of activity once you get there. There's little time for figuring these things out on the fly.

In addition to CU-WISE bloggers, you can enjoy Grace Hopper from afar via the official community blog feed (check back often though, since only the most recent posts show up!), and find out about many sessions on the notes wiki.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing

Have you heard about the upcoming Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing (ONCWIC), being held in Kingston by Queen's University October 22 and 23? It's a great opportunity for those of us who can't make it to Grace Hopper (and even those who do!), and let me tell you - it's a smoking deal.

Here's what it's all about:
The goal of ONCWIC is to allow students, faculty and professional women in Ontario to experience the opportunities for networking, sharing and mentoring that is unique to GHC. We recognize that attending the GHC is not an option for many women and the regional celebrations offer a comparable, low-cost alternative.
If you head over the registration page, you might notice that students pay just $25 and that includes shared accommodations in the hotel. Awesome!!

I'm thinking of putting in a poster before the September 30 deadline. I have heard there are prizes.

Whether you want to do a poster or talk or not, this conference will be awesome. If you're interested in going and might want to share a room with other CU-WISE girls, email and let us know!

The path of love is never smooth / But mine's continuous for you

To break up the week, I'm trying to post something fun on Wednesdays. This week I've got a video with a great little song about romance and mathematics entitled Finite Simple Group (of Order 2). Enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tips for Choosing a Career in Science

This guest post is contributed by Beatrice Owen, who writes on the topic of bachelors of science. She welcomes your comments via email: owen1.beatrice(@)gmail(.)com.

If you love science and have a natural curiosity, you have a wide range of educational and professional opportunities to tap. It’s easy to choose a career in science today because the field is so varied and vast – the subjects are many, so even if you’re not interested in one kind of science, there’s always another related, yet different branch to jump to. Science careers are both lucrative and fulfilling, and if you’re thinking of one, here are a few tips that are sure to come in handy.
  • Know what you want: While it’s ok to take some time and think about your career choice before making the final decision, it’s not wise to keep changing majors as you try to figure out what interests you. Ideally, if you’re interested in a career in science, you must know this during your last few years in high school and plan your college degree accordingly. Also, if you’re prepared and willing, you could take up additional college-level courses while still at school – this allows you to complete your degree faster and save on tuition costs.

  • Decide on a specialization: Science is a vast field, one that encompasses hundreds of subjects and sub-categories. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage – you have many options to choose from, but the plethora can make the choice confusing as well. If you know which field of science you favor, it’s easy to find the path you should take and focus on achieving your degree and finding a job in that sector. Some areas of science overlap, so it’s easy to major in one yet find a job in the other. So make your choice based on your interest and the opportunities available.

  • Focus on technology: No matter what kind of science you choose to major in, it’s important to pick up some technological knowhow if you don’t want to be left behind. Technology is a part of every aspect of our lives, and when it comes to science, it’s even more important because it forms an essential part of every kind of advancement and innovation. If you neglect technology, it is at your own peril.

  • Don’t count out the value of experience: When you envision a career in science, you’re not going to be thinking about an entry-level job; however, you have to start somewhere in order to make it big in your chosen field. So instead of wasting your time searching for the perfect job, accept offers that are relevant to your chosen career just so you can add to your experience. Use your free time to earn a graduate degree – you’re improving your educational qualifications and gaining experience at the same time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Girl, it's time to automate

Happy Wednesday of the first full week of classes! When I was in high school, there was a group of people who tried to make the mid-week more fun by doing some fun crazy thing. I fondly remember their pirate day, long before "talk like a pirate day" was coined.

In that spirit, I'm queuing up some posts here with random fun science and engineering stuff on Wednesdays, and here's the first. This video was found by a biologist friend of mine, who just couldn't stop laughing. It's a hilarious boy-band music video advert for a piece of lab equipment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A CU-WISE Primer

Welcome to all new and returning students and other supporters of Carleton's Women in Science and Engineering! This post is all about orienting you to what CU-WISE is all about. Whether you are just starting to get involved or have been around for a while, you will find something new.


As our website says, "Carleton University Women in Science and Engineering (CU-WISE) is a group of enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students who encourage and support women to pursue an education or career in Science and Engineering."

We're a support network that helps ensure women who decide to come to Carleton to study science or engineering feel comfortable and know they can succeed. Many of our activities are centred on this goal. We also want to encourage younger girls to give science and engineering fair consideration, as seen through our participation in many outreach programs. We also exist because, sometimes, it's just nice to hang out with the girls. ;)

Executives and Officers

Executives and Officers work together to organize all the activities CU-WISE is involved in, from social gatherings to guest speakers to conference participation to mentoring to ... well, you get the point. ;) Executives are a smaller core team that are the last line of defence - they aren't more important than Officers, but are able to dedicate more time to CU-WISE.

If you're interested in joining the team, find out how to apply on our website.

Mailing List

If you haven't added your email to the mailing list yet, be sure to join now. Although all of our events will be posted online as well, there are many outside events and opportunities that we only include on the list. You don't want to miss some of the amazing things going on around town and at Carleton.


The CU-WISE website is the hub of all our activity. You can join our mailing list, check out our upcoming and past events, learn about various awesome opportunities (like scholarships and conferences), and sign up to be a mentor or find a mentor. A bunch of our documents are available for download, and you can peek at our latest blog posts. Basically, if you aren't sure where to look, check here first.

Facebook, Twitter, Flickr

If you're on Facebook, you can become a fan of our CU-WISE page. Not everything on the mailing list ends up here so you'll still want to join that, but we do post interesting stories that don't appear on the newsletter.

If you aren't into Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter instead. Most of the content is the same, but we may soon have some dedicated Twitterers who will make things even more interesting.

If you want to see photos from CU-WISE events, check out our Flickr group. Even better, you are more than welcome to join it yourself. We encourage you to add your own photos to the group pool for all to enjoy!


Brand new this year is our formal mentoring program. If you'd like to mentor someone or find a mentor yourself, sign up today. This program will only work if you participate. We also want to make sure your mentoring relationship succeeds, and will provide you with all the resources you need. We are even working on hosting at least one social event per semester where mentors and mentees can get together in person and network with others in the program.

Please note that you can be a mentor even if you are still a student. For example, you might be a grad student who'd like to mentor an undergrad considering continuing her education.

Questions? Comments?

If you have any ideas on how CU-WISE should be run or want to suggest events or other activities, you can always email us, or just leave a comment to this post. Hope to see you at our Kick-Off Meet and Greet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

CompSci Woman: Technology is Women's Work

This is cross-posted from my personal blog, The Female Perspective of Computer Science.

Have you seen the new CompSci Woman blog yet? No? Well get over there and check it out! And better yet, if you happen to be female and have any kind of computer science background, consider contributing to the blog as well.

I just wrote up my piece for this month's theme on "how I got into computer science." It's called Behind the Screen:

I once considered attending a local specialized high school called Canterbury. It’s an arts school, and I wanted to attend for creative writing. After all, I had won a writing contest or two in my day, so I thought I was pretty good at it.

Unfortunately, the bus ride was far too long from my rural home, so I never went. Fortunately, I never let go of my creative side, which also included a love for drama, music, and now photography.

You'll have to read the rest of the story over at the blog.

Cate Huston is one of the two creators of CompSci Woman (Maggie Zhou is the other). Cate shared some of the "why" behind it all:

What brought it home so strongly, how hard it had been to be a minority, is that at the time I wasn’t. Extreme Blue Canada had an amazing number of women in the program this year. There was a girl on every team - two on some, including the team I was on. It was noticeable compared to the US teams at expo - Canada had exceeded the magic ratio, at which the women were not minorities, but normal.

It was different for Maggie, who was one of two women in her building. We talked about this - we had very different coping strategies. Towards the end of the summer, I floated the idea of a blog to her - the natural next step from the many conversations we had that summer. We thought that whilst you might not want to brand yourself as a woman in CS (every woman in CS I know is so much more than that, perhaps it’s like evolution, only the most awesome/stubborn/motivated/interesting survive), you could brand a platform, provide a forum for women who don’t have the time, or inclination to run their own blog. Maggie was excited by the idea as well, and we started to sketch out a vision and pitch (EB gave us a lot of practise in that) our idea to people. They were interested. They promised to blog for us. CompSci Woman was born, although unnamed.

With your help, we can build a platform, and a community. Because more people means more mentors, and more role models, and more inspiration. And that - well, I hope it’s just the start.
Inspired? I hope so! Now get out there and write your piece! I'll look out for it in the next few weeks. ;)