Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Power of Abstraction and The Barriers Women Could Have - Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov, Friday’s keynote speaker, MIT Professor and Associate Provost , 2008 ACM Turing Award Winner, highlighted the evolution of her career and the technical papers that influenced her thinking. Some of the wisdom she shared included the need to persevere, the importance of doing work that is interesting rather than expedient, and the rewards derived from intellectual honesty by understanding the pros and cons of what you are working on. ( From ABI)

In her interview with Silicon.com, Barbara mentioned the barriers women could have:

Exactly what the barriers are--people have theories about this (but) they don't totally understand it. I think a lot of it has to do with our societies. It's probably strongly related to other things we see going on like the fact that women are not well represented...in the top maths. If you look at, for example, who's doing well in the maths contests that happen internationally you'll see that women are underrepresented there.

I don't believe any of this has to do with basic abilities but I do think it has a lot to do with the way that our society is--what we think is appropriate for women to do (and) what we think is appropriate for men to do. I do think it's mostly a problem before they get to college--if they get to college and they still are open-minded enough to be interested and they didn't cut themselves off by taking the necessary science and math ahead of time then I think at least they aren't going to hit the glass ceiling until they get quite far along.

About Barbara Liskov, you can read more on MIT EECS website.