Thursday, August 27, 2009

We all mess up sometimes. So why is learning to forgive yourself a lot harder than forgiving others?

Today is Global Forgiveness Day. I personally struggle with forgiving others and I am especially hard on myself. But let me tell you it does not benefit my life in any way and I know I've still got a long way to go with forgiveness. So here's a snippet of an article on learning to forgive yourself:
So effective is forgiveness - if we could find a way to learn and teach it - that Stanford University is undertaking a project to learn how forgiveness can enhance health and relationships and even prevent disease.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An "ass" out of "u" and "me"

I got invited to participate in the Geek Feminism blog and it's been a ball thus far. You mean I get more excuse to interact with smart, sassy, feminist folk? Sign me up! Here's a teaser from one of my posts there, entitled An “ass” out of “u” and “me”:

I'm off-white, so I'm used to people assuming rather strange things about me. The big one I am forever explaining is that no, I really am Canadian. Yes, that's where I'm really from. That's where my ancestors are from too.

But the weirdest assumption I ever encountered was that because I was a girl, I would somehow know something about computer usability.

(Read the rest here)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Engineering Recruitment vs Retention

I saw the following on the University of Saskatchewan WISE blog (which, by the way, is worth subscribing to):
Myth Of High Engineering Dropout Rate Refuted By New Study
Posted by Heather Published in News, Research

Female engineering students are not more likely to drop out than male students and they perform just as well as their male counterparts in engineering. This is according to research conducted by Matthew Ohland, an associate professor in the School of Engineering Education, Purdue University who looked at data on 70,000 engineering students from nine institutions in the southeastern U.S.

Ohland states, “People naturally assume there is a female persistence problem because only about 20 percent of undergraduate engineering students are women [but] the problem of few women in engineering, however, is one of recruitment, not retention.”

To read the full ScienceDaily article (August 4, 2009) visit:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Makes Me Think

Because every woman needs a little inspiration once in a while, I wanted to share a site I found a little while ago called "Makes Me Think." People share little snippets of their lives that has really made them think. I've laughed, cried, and been inspired just reading the day's top posts.

For example, take this life lesson on trying again and again (something we learned at Grace Hopper last year):
Today, I tested a theory that didn't work, which led me to different theory that didn't work, which spawned a totally new idea that seems to work really well. Although it doesn't solve the original problem, all of my business partners agree that this idea has earth-shattering potential. MMT
Or how about this one, which can remind us that men have an important role to play in CU-WISE's mission and vision:
Today, I met a cute white guy at a local bar. In conversation he mentioned that he supports same sex marriages. I politely asked him if he was gay. He chuckled and said, "My mom supported the Civil Rights Movement. Do I look black to you?" MMT
Some can give us strength and encourage us to realize what we have rather than focus on the difficulties:
Today, I was cleaning the kitchen with my husband in our brand new house. We were joking around and having a great time. It suddenly dawned on me that if two years ago someone had told me my life would end up like this, dealing with those bullies in high school would have been a lot easier. MMT
Today, while swimming laps at the pool, I was frustrated to be stuck in a lane with a man who could barely swim. He was soooo darn slow. The whole time I wanted to yell at him for ruining my workout. But after he got out of the pool, I realized he was bound to a wheelchair. I felt horrible. MMT
What's made you stop and think lately?

Mathematical Model for Surviving a Zombie Attack

A cool little story was featured recently on Slashdot late yesterday:
"What do you do when zombies attack? Turn to a mathematician to come up with a model for the spread of a zombie infestation, of course! Students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have published a paper in a book titled Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress detailing how to model the spread of a zombie population and various complications in managing the spread of the infestation. They even give humans a fighting chance in some cases! The original paper (PDF) can be found at their professor's website."

Clearly, the coolest part is that the students are from Carleton and Ottawa U. Way to make math fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why DON'T we teach computer science earlier?

As Gail mentioned, we got to chat with the girls@vv girls this morning, and they had some really interesting stuff to say about why girls aren't interested. Here's a teaser from my post:

So it got me thinking, why don't we start earlier? I taught my sister how to program when she was in elementary school. One of my friends always asserts that I shouldn't generalize based on my sister and her friends, who are incredibly smart and exceptional people, but honestly programming isn't that difficult. My brother and I learned at 13 from a book for kids. So why don't the schools teach it?

You can read the rest on my personal blog.

Teach Me Computer Science Earlier

Today, Terri and I had some fun with the Girls@VV camp held here at Carleton. Here's a teaser:
I borrowed some material from my games mini-course for girls and put together a few slides about what computer science is and how women fit in. We had a discussion on why girls don't get into it, why that's a bad thing, and what would help. Then we did the finite state machine activity from CS Unplugged. Terri from CU-WISE also came out to help. What a blast we had!

As was the case for my mini-course, these girls had amazing insight into the reasons girls aren't very interested. The title of this post represents a major theme: they want to learn about what computer science really is early on in their school lives!
Keep reading to find out more about what these girls suggested!

Carleton news

The student who was victim of a brutal sexual assault in 2007 is suing Carleton University for $535,000 for negligence. Carleton is fighting the lawsuit, and mentioned in their defense that the victim had not registered herself with campus security so they knew she was working late and did not lock the door. This has led many groups to condemn Carleton's response as victim-blaming, although the university says this was not what was intended by their statements.

If you wish to read more about the lawsuit and controversy, here are some recent news articles:

Carleton accused of 'victim blaming' [Ottawa Citizen]

Carleton lawsuit raises issues of responsibility [National Post]

Carleton defence in sex-assault case stirs outrage [Ottawa Metro]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One more reason for the wage gap: What young women choose to study in college

We need more strong young women to choose more 'lucrative' careers paths by studying business, math, natural sciences and engineering.

Medical imaging with your phone?

Washington University wrote an article about a USB-based ultrasound imaging device for use with Microsoft Windows mobile-based smartphones built by computer engineers and computer scientists at the university. This low cost (< $2,000 so far) portable imaging method has many applications. For example, you can use them on the fly in ambulances and it could quickly diagnose wounded soldiers. Also "it could become the essential computer of the Developing World, where trained medical personnel are scarce, but most of the population, as much as 90 percent, have access to a cell phone tower."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

9 Tips To Be A Better Communicator

Author Eli Davidson wrote an article about "9 Tips To Be A Better Communicator":

1. Don't Let The Words Distract You

Numerous studies show that less than half of what is communicated is through spoken words. Some studies give words even less weight on the communication scale. Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. conducted some of the most influential studies on the importance for the nonverbal components of communication. His landmark report rated 7% importance for words, 38% for tone and 55% for and body language for their effectiveness. Whether you dispute or agree with his percentages, they illustrate that you miss a great deal of content if you listen to words alone.

HOW someone says something is far more important than WHAT they say. Listen for infections, signs and coughs. These are unconscious body signals that 'highlight' a statement. They tell you that what was just said was important. For example if someone says, "I love working on that project." and then coughs or sighs it is likely that there is a part of them that doesn't believe the statement.

2. Oh, What A Difference A But Makes

Become a "but" watcher and you'll be dazzled at how much better your perception becomes. Pay attention to the word "but" in any sentence. It tells you, the listener, that everything said before the "but" might not be the truth. "I love my new position, but the hours drive me insane." The bigger truth in that sentence is that the speaker is drowning under their workload.

3. Don't Skip The End

Pay particular attention to what someone says at the end of a sentence. "I'd like to put together a presentation, except I don't know how." Often people make a preamble of what they think the listener would like you hear. Many save the most honest part of a statement for the end of a sentence.

4. Ask Is Not A Four Letter Word

Just because you speak the same language...don't assume you understand another person. The message sent is often not the message received. Masterful listeners ask, ask, ask. Any sales executive knows that the person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation. An easy way to become an expert listener is to verify that your perception of what was said was what the speaker meant.

5. The "Should, Can't, Have To" Crystal Ball.

Each one of these words conveys a negative belief or perceived assessment of a situation. Watch the statement that follows "Should", "Can't, and "Have To." The listener is telling you that they really don't want to do what they are saying. Watch these words closely and folks around you will think you are plugged into the psychic hot line.

6. Yes, No...No Way

If you are asking a "Yes, No" question you are not giving your listener the room to communicate with depth. Why bother interacting if you don't want real information? We have gotten into the habit of speaking in sound bites. Power up your listening by adding more open-ended questions. (Questions that require something other than a yes or no answer.)

7. Men Lay The Bricks and Women Toss The Salad

Do you feel misunderstood by the opposite sex? One of the reasons that we drive each other bonkers is that we expect that other gender to communicate the way we do. They don't. The Today Show just asked me to share some tips on the difference in male/female communication. Men tend to speak in succinct logical progression. Women mix it up. Here's an easy visual for gender communication styles.

8. Don't Throw A Brick In The Salad

Interrupting a speaker is a key signpost of lousy listening. Wait least four seconds after the person finishes speaking before you respond. This will help train you not to cut off the speaker until they are finished with an idea. Ladies, don't disturb a man laying bricks. Not interrupting men is key since they have a more linear communication style than women.

9. Don't Listen With Your Ears.

The University of Santa Monica has a revolutionary program of Spiritual Psychology. One of the skills they teach is Heart Centered Listening. Imagine that your heart had ears. If you listen with your heart you will hear the depth of the message any person is trying to convey.

So, close your mouth, open your heart and find out what that other astonishing human being has to share with you. It may surprise you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mantra of an Amazing Woman

This poem was written by Lana Lodge, a Carleton University Computer Science undergraduate student (photo)

I am an amazing woman
I love myself
I trust myself
I respect myself
I forgive myself

I have unlimited power inside me
Because I have integrity
Because I am a woman who knows what I know
And I am the only one who can know
What I can do

I work for what I want
My body is strong
My mind sharp
I treat myself
My spirit is whole and happy
I honour my experiences
With the people around me
I honour myself
I honour those around me

I am an amazing woman
I love myself
I trust myself
I respect myself
I forgive myself

I will rise above all of the noise
I will rise above all those who are disrespectful
They want to use me
They want to break me
Make an example of me
To satisfy their egos

I will get myself what I deserve
I will never settle for less
Because I am a woman who knows
How to take care of herself
I bless my heart
I bless my dreams
I’m powerful, gracious
I say what I mean

I am an amazing woman
I accept opportunity
I accept entitlement
I accept a bigger paycheque
I accept love
I let myself be loved
It overflows from me
I love myself
I trust myself
I listen to my gut instinct
I know what feels right
I banish what feels wrong

I search for new opportunities
To test myself
To grow
To learn
Take on new roles
See new dimensions

I am an amazing woman
I have this will
To learn to know
I have this world to help me grow
I have these arms
To build my path
They will not stop
They won't look back
I have this love that's burning bright

I am strong
And I can fight
With all these things I have in me
I could move the earth
I could calm the sea
I'll take this world and make it mine
I'll let love flow
I'll let love shine
And the Goddess in me says "It's about time".
I am an amazing woman