Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unmanned Systems Canada Conference Review

Amy is blogging about her experience as part of the CU-WISE initiative Blog To Attend A Conference Fund. Check out our Opportunities page for more details. 

The Unmanned Systems industry is a small, tight-knit community.  However, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) community goes beyond tight-knit – it is more like a family.  The few hundred people who attended the Unmanned Systems Canada (USC) Conference this year span pretty much all of Canada’s UAV specialists.  That’s it.  A few hundred researchers and companies making up an entire nation’s worth of knowledge on autonomous systems.  They know each other very well – perhaps too well. 

Walking into the conference, I knew I was an outsider.  Having worked in the UAV industry for just a single year – and as a co-op student no less – I had been introduced to many of the other players in the UAV field, but never like this, never all of them together.  I was intimidated. 

I have been intimidated before. As one of five female aerospace engineering students in my year at Carleton, I was typically made aware of being different from the rest of the crowd.  But this was not like that.  Here the questioning faces weren’t asking “why is she here?” they were just asking how I fit into the UAV family. 

It was amazing.  One of those moments where you realize you are being judged on the knowledge and experiences you bring to the table and not the fact that you are female.  I love that feeling.  I live for that moment when I can get behind the radar and fit in and share and learn.  No judgments.  The USC Conference was like that for four whole days. 

Despite the fact that I counted less than 20 women at the conference, the atmosphere told me that it wasn’t the men who were stopping women from joining their inner circle.  They are ready for us.  We just need the guts to admit we are interested and the confidence to share what we know.   At USC I struck a power pose (see video), then walked up and joined the conversation.  I hope conferences will give you the opportunity to do the same.

The Future of Research in the Alberta Oil Sands - International Oil Sands Tailings Conference Review

Lisa is blogging about her experience as part of the CU-WISE initiative Blog To Attend A Conference Fund. Check out our Opportunities page for more details. 

The International Oil Sands Tailings Conference (IOSTC) is a bi-annual meeting for presenting research aimed at developing innovative means of addressing tailings related issues associated with the development of the Alberta Oil Sands. The conference was held from December 2-5, 2012 in Edmonton, Alberta at the Mayfield Inn and Conference Center. The conference brought together 360 experts, and interested individuals, to address tailings technology and management. Speakers addressed challenging issues such as oil sands tailings management, the required research efforts to overcome these challenges and, how the industry is responding. Papers were presented under the following themes: Tailings Containment, Soft Tailings and Stabilization, Tailings Dewatering, Reclamation, Chemical Interactions, New Tailings Management Concepts, and Water and Heat Considerations. A full list of presenters and abstracts can be found at https://uofa-cee.gobigevent.com:443/prothos/onware.x/conference/web/index.p?!=public=13549203058167=41=25697969&Conference=10293

Keynote speakers addressed future goals and areas of future concern while stressing the importance of reclamation studies. It appears that reclaiming and monitoring reclamation is the new main industry challenge. The talk I presented was the only one that addressed ecological reclamation. The talk titled ‘The use of benthic microorganisms (thecamoebians) to assess ecological response to tailings pond water quality changes and define endpoints to remediation efforts’ introduced a means of monitoring ecosystem development with reclamation efforts. This research is currently being conducted here at Carleton University in the Earth Science department.

Upon the completion of my Ph.D. I intend to work in Alberta in relation to the oil sands industry. The general public consensus is that finding work in Alberta is easy but if you actually talk to those looking, finding a career that fits your skillset is rather difficult. The oil companies have relationships with universities in Alberta and positions are typically filled from that pool of candidates. For me attendance at the conference was vital to finding a job. Business people and company researchers mainly attended the conference so the venue was an excellent opportunity for networking. I was one of only two students from outside of Alberta in attendance so I am thankful for the funding assistance that allowed me this opportunity.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CU-WISE Women in Research

The CU-WISE Women in Research is an event to highlight the diverse research that is being performed at Carleton in the hopes of inspiring budding female scientists and engineers.  The CU-WISE Women in Research is set to take place on Thursday December 6th, 2012 from 9am to 2pm in Loeb room C264 at Carleton University.

Below you will find a schedule of speaker. To attend this event, please RSVP here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

CU-WISE Women in Research

Monday, November 19, 2012


 If you're familiar with TED Talks then you know that they have a great reputation for bringing you "ideas worth sharing" through relaxed but informative discussions. What you might not have heard of yet is that there will be a TEDx event in Ottawa very shortly! On December 2nd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Arts Court called a TED event called TEDxSandyHillWomen will be taking place.

I was fortunate to attend TEDxCarletonU back in 2010 and found a lot of inspiration hearing about big ideas that were driving the work of some of Carleton's top professors. On the list for the TEDxSandyHillWomen is WISE's very own Gail Carmichael. She will be speaking about why she cares about telling girls that tech fields are fun and rewarding.

If you want to find out more you can check out their website www.tedxsandyhillwomen.com and like their facebook page. To attend the event you have to fill out an application but I was also told that there may be opportunities to volunteer.

Monday, November 12, 2012

CU-WISE Research Day

We are very excited to announce that applications for the CU-WISE Women in Research event are now open! This event aim’s to highlight the diverse research that the female undergraduate, graduate and faculty of Carleton University are actively involved in and is set to take place on December 6th, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Carleton.

To help make this event a success, we are looking for dynamic individuals who are excited about what they are doing and would like to share their journey into their respective fields. You will be given 15 minutes to present your research topic to an audience of budding female engineers and scientists from high schools around the city. Demonstrations and hands-on activities are also welcomed. To participate, please tell us a little more about yourself by filling out an application below. Deadline to apply is November 24th at midnight!

** Update: Applications for the CU-WISE Women in Research are now closed. **

Seeking Nominations for the 2013 Women of Vision Awards

I serve on the Advisory Board of the Anita Borg Institute, an organization focused on increasing women's participation in the technology workforce --- as technologists, and as technical leaders. One important aspect of our work is recognizing the contributions of amazing women technical leaders all over the world. We do this through the Women of Vision program.

We are now accepting nominations for the 2013 Women of Vision awards.

We could greatly use your help identifying women who deserve recognition, and facilitating their nomination. These women are incredible achievers whose stories inspire us, and whose example can be held up as a role model for thousands of other technical women. A bit of background:

These awards recognize outstanding women for Leadership, Social Impact, and Innovation. See the full descriptions of these award categories online.

Last year we honoured these amazing women:

  • Sarita Adve, Professor of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for Innovation.
  • Sarah Revi Sterling, Faculty Director, ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for Social Impact.
  • Jennifer Chayes, Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England, for Leadership.
You can also see the complete list of past winners online.

Please think about a woman at your organization or school (or anywhere, really) who deserves to be honoured for her career achievements, and nominate her! Please contact me if there is any way I can help you with this action.

The deadline to submit a nomination is December 14, 2012.

Also be sure to save the date for the 8th annual Women of Vision Awards Banquet on May 9, 2013 in Santa Clara, California. Registration passes and table sponsorships will be available for purchase soon.

Originally posted on my personal blog.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Have you heard of DOUBLE MAJOR? I've noticed posters around campus and got an email about their November event today. Double major is a new initiative from the Carleton University Art Gallery and Alumbi Association. It brings together two speakers from different backgrounds to talk about their work. Sounds amazing, right?! It gets better because their November event features a talk about Space Robots (Helia Sharif) and Urban Hacking (Janak Alford). Out. Of. This. World.

I've already got this down in my agenda and really excited about it. DOUBLE MAJOR will be held at Carleton University Art Gallery on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012. Lectures start at 7pm, and there will be drinks and snacks available.

To view a poster with the details of the Novemeber event click here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CU@EMBS Pints With Profs Series: Professor Andrew Marble

Check out the next edition of the Pints with Profs series taking place this Thursday (Nov 1st) at Mike's place, 2nd floor of the unicenter from 4 to 5 pm.

“Pints with Profs” is an informal social event featuring a professor who will be available to chat and answer your questions about academics, research, careers, and other topics concerning biomedical engineering. Everyone is welcome to attend!Professor Andrew Marble (from the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University,http://www.sce.carleton.ca/faculty/marble/marble.html) will be featured at the next “Pints with Profs” event, taking place on Thursday November 1st between 4:00PM-5:00PM at Mike’s Place Pub (located on the 2nd floor of University Centre, Carleton University). Mike’s Place Pub serves beverages and a menu of assorted food items.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ONCWIC: Attending My First Conference

Last weekend (October 12-13, 2012), I attended this year’s Ontario Celebration of Women In Computing conference which was held in London, Ontario. This was my first time attending a conference, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Being kind of shy and timid also kind of made me nervous. Will people talk to me? Am I going to feel out of place? I was anxious, but at the same time excited to see what the conference had to offer. Walking in and finding a place to sit had to be the most challenging part, since I’m not really the type of person to just join in a conversation with people I don’t know. Fortunately for me, one of the first people I met actually recognized me (and my name tag) since she had seen my earlier tweets about the conference! (Twitter is bringing the world together!)

After settling in and listening to the first woman speak, I knew everything was going to go great. All the keynote speakers were truly inspiring. From how to communicate efficiently with others and being your own PR agent, to how to properly answer the question “what is inheritance?” in a job interview (which I honestly don’t think I’d know the answer to!), I gained some valuable knowledge. I think the one thing that really affected me was Kelley Irwin (who is the Vice President of Technology Solutions at TD Bank Group)’s keynote on Technology in Financial Services. In her talk, she spoke of when she was just beginning as a programmer, when all she wanted to do was write her code by herself and not have to deal with anyone else. She was shy and timid and just wanted to be left alone. And now, she’s a manager of over 300 people all over the world, speaking to large groups of people about her job. For me, hearing her story is so inspiring because she started out right where I am now, shy and timid and never thinking I could ever give talks or manage people. But look at her now! Hearing that gives me hope that maybe one day I could be just like her, a successful woman leading others in a job that she loves doing.

Attending this year’s ONCWIC was truly worth the 8 hour drive it took to get to London. Meeting new people, learning new things, sharing a passion for technology with other women, (and let’s not forget all the great food and prizes!), made this past weekend truly one to remember. I encourage all women in computing to attend next year’s conference which will be held in Waterloo! Let’s hope in years to come ONCWIC can join us here in Ottawa!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bringing a Baby to GHC12

As you saw in my first post about GHC12, I brought my baby to the conference.  My husband came as well to help out with baby things and because he's in computer science as well.  It was a positive experience for everyone, including other attendees!

We road tripped to get there because Baltimore was driving distance, driving three people is much cheaper than flying them, and I'm terrified of flying with a baby.  Nobody wants to be the parent with a screaming kid.  We made sure not to drive more than 5 hours a day because we figured that's all the baby would be able to handle.

Once at the conference, we were able to take advantage of the free childcare.  Grace Hopper is an opportunity for all women to get together, even if they've recently had babies or have older kids.  The childcare is a big part of making that happen.  Better still, the quality was very good, so we felt that Molly was very safe there.  It was still hard to leave her, of course.  After all, she's never been in the care of anyone other than her parents and grandparents! But other than being upset when Mommy and Daddy left, she did really well and all the childcare ladies loved her.

I also took her to one of the sessions on balancing academic life and family.  It seemed appropriate. ;)  She was mostly quiet, but if she got a bit noisier, my husband just brought her out into the hall for a bit.  A few people later commented how happy they were to see her there, and how cute she was.  I was able to be a good role model for others thinking of having kids during grad school.

I'm really glad that we took the opportunity to travel to GHC together, as it may not come up again for some time.  I hope that other conferences eventually follow suit and offer some childcare options (even if they can't be totally free).  It would make attending so much easier for parents like me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women and Computing Posts on My Blog

I wrote a few posts about this year's Grace Hopper Celebration on my personal blog that I'd like to share with you all:
There were many, many more interesting sessions, and other bloggers and note takers covered a lot of them. You can find notes and links to blogs on the conference wiki.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carleton at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2012

This year, I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for the fourth time. I find that there is always something new to get out of this conference and I am always glad I went.  This year, it was an especially special trip: being driving distance to Baltimore, I travelled there with my husband and 9-month-old baby girl.

My baby and I on our way to Grace Hopper.

I had been organizing a group of Carleton students to attend each year (see our posts from 2008, 2009, and 2010).  But, last year, I was too pregnant to fly to Portland, so I didn't go, and so I didn't organize anyone else, either.  This year I was on leave until September, so no other Carletonites at the conference this time, either.  (I did get to reunite with some past travel buddies who used to attend Carleton, though!)

I strongly believe that having a large Carleton presence at the conference is very good for us.  We usually go with our CU-WISE t-shirts and wear them together one of the conference days.  We also often try to get the executive members to attend so they can bond, making working together over the next year much more effective.  We always get excellent insights and ideas from how to run CU-WISE to neat outreach activities we can do (for example, Snap Circuits came from Grace Hopper!).  And, best of all, we get to promote Carleton University as an amazing place to study science and engineering as a woman.

I'll be posting about my experience over the next little while, and if you think this is something you want to experience next year in Minneapolis, get in touch with me via wise@carleton.ca.  The process starts early in the year, since we ask all attendees to apply for scholarships and/or volunteer positions to help cover costs.  Hope to see you there!

Wanted: female entrepreneurs

The Globe and Mail article is just one of many highlighting the issue that we have here in Canada, lots of women working however not enough starting companies. The lack of women in leadership roles is another frequent cry. There are many task forces looking into the root cause of this issue and how to support women.

Lead To Win for Women is a great program that addresses this issue. They offer a free entrepreneurship bootcamp to women who have an idea for a business, started a business or want to give their business a boost.

Sign up for the bootcamp, it's free, and take the first step to changing this ratio.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Who inspires you?

This year, we at WISE want to celebrate the ladies who mentor and inspire us academically and professionally. This is why we will be blogging about a variety of wonderful women in science and engineering. But first, we want to know who you admire or look up to. We are actively looking for people to interview and introduce you all to. 
If you either know someone whom we should all get to know or even if you consider yourself to be a mentor for women in science and engineering, we want to hear from you. Tweet at us, leave a comment or come by the office! We are looking for women who have a passion for what they do whether it be as an undergrad, masters, PhD or professional! 
We all look forward to discovering amazing people!

Twitter: cuwise
Office: 5th floor Herzberg 
Email: wise@carleton.ca

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Need some cash to go to a conference? CU-WISE has a new program to help you out!

Conferences are a great way to enrich and support your time spent at Carleton. For undergrads, conferences are a great way to learn practical knowledge required after you leave university. For graduate students, conferences are a great way to share your research with fellow academics. If you haven't guessed, I'm a huge supporter of attending conferences. I always feel inspired and invigorated about my subject matter, environmental engineering, when I get back from a conference. However, living within a student's limited budget, getting to a conference can be difficult. That's why CU-WISE is launching a new program so that you can blog for you dinner... so to speak. We will reimburse up to
$150 of your expenses related to conference attendance in exchange for blogging about an aspect of your time spent at the conference. It really is a win-win. You can practice your writing skills and share your thoughts with the WISE community and we will help ease the financial strain. Your blog post(s) can be about your experience at the conference, a specific thing that you learned or your general impressions. 

If you’re interested, please fill out an application by clicking on the link and tell us the details and your involvement at the conference. Applications can be submitted at any time but you have to apply and get approval before you leave. Application are available here: http://alturl.com/k2eus

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Would you like to go to the Ontario Celebration of Women In Computing (ONCWIC)?

Are you a female computer science student or study computing at Carleton? If so, have you heard about the Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing (ONCWIC 2012)? This year the conference is set to take place on October 12 and 13, 2012 in London, Ontario, hosted by the University of Western Ontario.

ONCWIS is modeled after the popular Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), which is held annually in the USA. From the ONWIC website, the goal of ONCWIC is to provide students, faculty and professional women in Ontario opportunities for networking, sharing and mentoring, similar to those provided by the GHC. It is hoped that ONCWIC will help build the computing community within Ontario, with significant benefits to the attendees and their associated organizations.

If you are attending or are interested in attending please let us know! We have opportunities available for attendees to help cover the cost of going to the conference. 

To read more about ONWIC, visit their website at: http://www.oncwic.ca/.
To read previous CU-WISE blog posts about Grace Hopper please visit: 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Volunteering for Go ENG Girl

Go ENG Girl is an event that is near and dear to my heart. In high school I favored math and science classes  but even liked music and art. I knew I wanted to go into either science or engineering but I really didn't know the difference between them. I finally chose Biotechnology; a program that combined the two. It was perfect! I would take biochemistry classes in the science department and chemical engineering classes from the engineering department. There was only one small bump in my plan. After the first year in the biotechnology program it was clear that I LOVED ENGINEERING! I was excited by my physics lab, I looked forward to programming and in general was just overjoyed when I had to go to my engineering classes! The following year, I applied for and was accepted into Environmental Engineering at Carleton and have never looked back.

I feel that the Go ENG Girl program is great because it allows girls the opportunity to explore engineering and hopefully spark an interest in the profession. I love engineering and it's something that I wished I had discovered at an earlier age. I've volunteered with Go ENG Girl for a number of years and if you are a student at Carleton I encourage you to do the same! The event is well organized and even though it's a on a Saturday and you have to get your butt out of bed, you'll have so much fun doing the activities with the girls that it's well worth it. It's an all around great volunteer experience.

Go ENG Girl is a half day event for Grade 7-10 girls across Ontario to visit their local university to learn about the wonderful world of engineering: "A Caring Profession." WISE is currently looking for volunteers to help make the event a success. Volunteers are needed to help with registration, give lab tours and help run activities. All training and materials will be provided and lunch is provided. Go ENG Girl is scheduled for Saturday October 13, 2012 at Carleton University and other universities accross Ontario. For more information about Go ENG Girl please visit www.ospe.on.ca/goenggirl.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Science: It's a Girl Thing"

Recently, the following video has caused a bit of a stir in the scientific community - especially among female scientists. Although it was intended to encourage girls to study science, it relies heavily on stereotypes and outdated ideas of what women are interested in.

"This video was published by the European Commission for a campaign designed to attract more women to a career in science. The commission said that the video had to "speak their language to get their attention" and that it was intended to be "fun, catchy" and strike a chord with young people. "I would encourage everyone to have a look at the wider campaign and the many videos already online of female researchers talking about their jobs and lives."

First of all: Did you notice the open-toed shoes that were being worn in the lab? That's definitely not something you want to do. In my opinion, this video is a result of poor judgement on the part of the advertising agency. Were any real scientists consulted in the making of this video? Did they actually talk to any middle-school or high-school girls about their interests? The pop music, girls striking sultry poses for no apparent reason, and shots of exploding makeup are slightly painful to watch, because they come off as stereotypical and pandering.

When I was in high school, the girls I knew in my science classes were there because we actually found the the subject interesting. Outside of the classroom, it was no different. In high school, I remember taking care of fish and small turtles, learning to program, and reading Wired and New Scientist with fascination. If we want to genuinely inspire girls to develop their own interest in science, wouldn't it be sensible to show them what it's actually about? (One could argue that cosmetic companies do hire scientists to formulate makeup and such, but that is after years of study in chemistry.)

Do you think this promotional video is effective? The comments are open.

Liz Allen is a second-year Computer Science student, and leads a double life as a musician.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Volunteers Needed for DiscoverWISE 2012

DiscoverWISE is now an annual event organized by CU-WISE that invites high school girls to Carleton for fun hands-on activities about science and engineering. It's set to take place on Thursday May 17 and to make the event a success we need YOUR HELP! So, if you can spare some time between 8:30 am and 1 pm please let us know by emailing cu-wise@googlegroups.com. If you haven’t had a chance to volunteer with WISE this year, this is the perfect chance to get involved. There will be a short meeting for volunteers on Tuesday May 15th at 12 pm (noon) in HP 5270.

Some of the things we need help with include:
- picking up cupcakes (requires a car)
- playing with snap circuits
- chatting about science and engineering
- helping with registration
- taking pictures
- directing people between Loeb and Southam

** Lunch and cupcakes are included **

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Adding more Women Scientists on Wikipedia

This morning I was a little late getting to school because I was so intrigued about an interview with Sarah Stierch that was coming up on Q on CBC radio. I was so very happy that I decided not to miss it! Sarah is a community fellow at the Wikimedia Foundation and has made it her mission to increase the presence of women on Wikipedia. I was a little surprised to learn that only 9% of content on Wikipedia was created by females and the average contributor is a college educated white male. Wikipedia is the largest free encyclopedia and has become one of the first stops for information for many of us. I think it should also be a representation of the people who use it. I my mind, if the type of people contributing are skewed, than the content must also be skewed.

In an effort to increase content about women and by women she recently hosted a edit'athon at the Smithsonian where for five hours people got together to increase content about female scientists. What a great idea! Anyone else with me?

You can check out the interview below (the interview starts at about the 4 minute mark):

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Getting Girls Excited About Computer Science Education

The following is a guest post from Erin Palmer, a contributor to U.S. News University Directory a leading resource for computer science bachelor degrees, certification courses and online STEM education programs from accredited colleges.

For more information please visit http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/technology.aspx

Ground is actually being lost in the battle to get girls interested in computer science. The “boys club” nature of the field has continued into the 21st Century, despite attempts to reverse the trend.

Women received only 12% of undergraduate degrees in computer science and engineering from Ph.D.-granting institutions in Canada and the United States in 2006-07, according to a report from the Computing Research Association. That’s down from 19% in 2001-02.

This trend robs women of careers in fast-growing, high-paying fields, and it robs the computer science industry of the diversity of ideas and innovation needed for significant breakthroughs. To reverse course, we need to get girls interested in computers early on – even preschool isn’t too soon to start!

Why Aren’t Girls Excited about Computer Science?
The way schools are packaging computer science education may be the real culprit. Girls have the ability for computer science, but their attitude toward the field has been distorted by the “geek culture” that surrounds all things computer science.

The atmosphere in computer education – from the geeky décor of the classroom to the domination of boys in classroom discussions and the lack of women mentors – can be off-putting to many girls. It’s no surprise some girls see computers as boy toys used for video games.

Perhaps we need to do a better job of showing girls what computers can do for them.

Promoting Computer Science through All Education Levels
At the preschool and elementary levels, access is key. Teachers should ensure girls get equal opportunity to play around with computers. This can allow girls not only the chance to become comfortable using computers, but also foster a sense of accomplishment.

Some little boys tend to be more aggressive and enthusiastic about using computers than girls, pushing past them to claim the nearest or newest machine. In a chaotic computer lab, girls shouldn’t be left out of the action, relegated to the role of observer.

When girls hit middle school, peer pressure can be a destructive force and making computers the cool thing for girls can prove difficult. Educators can try to pioneer new ways to get girls involved by making computer science social, collaborative, empowering and fun. Adolescence is also when girls’ self-confidence levels can plummet, so we need to find new ways to make girls feel comfortable in their own skin.

High school is often when girls start making the decisions that will impact the rest of their professional lives. It’s important to strongly encourage them to continue taking higher level math, science and computer classes, going beyond what is required for college admission.

One of the best ways to make that case is to expose girls to successful women who work in a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. Never underestimate the power of role models like you!

Tips for Making Computer Science Appealing to Girls
Put the social in media: Many girls enjoy working together, and girl-only computer clubs can provide a fun, safe environment for them to explore and collaborate without worrying about what the boys think. Similarly, making connections and working with older female STEM professionals can go a long way in making computer science careers accessible to young women.

Access that appeals: Crippling budget cuts in education can make it difficult to get students in front of adequate technology. Once teachers have secured that face-time for girls, we have to make it compelling. Many girls aren’t as likely as boys to enjoy just messing around with computers. They want to achieve something. Let them choose the games and applications that appeal to them, and don’t be surprised when they treat computers more like tools than toys.

Encourage active exploration: We’ve all heard the jokes about which gender is more likely to ask for directions, but girls’ ability to ask for help isn’t always a positive. Sometimes they need to puzzle out a problem on their own. As a woman in the science and engineering professions, you know how integral that skill is to success. We need to push girls to take leadership roles, answer the tough questions and find solutions on their own.

As women, we know how tough it is to be a girl, but we also know that if we challenge them, many will rise to meet that challenge. If girls aren’t excited about computer science education, we need to improve the quality of that education. Of course there is more diversity within a gender than between them, but in general, girls learn differently than boys and different aspects of computing appeal to them. By being aware of those differences, we can tailor computer science education to appeal to girls thereby mentoring the future of our industry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WISE Office Warming and Mini-social

WISE has a new home!

To celebrate and to break in our new digs, we had a small get together.

There was tea, coffee and treats...

... not to mention, some great company!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. If you want to come and say hi, we'll be holding regular office hours every Tuesday from 12 p.m. (noon) to 1 p.m. and our office is located at 5270 Herzberg Laboratories (HP).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Environmental Friendliness Isn't As Hard As You Think!

I was thinking about whether we could consider ourselves green in our family after Natalie posted about Ottawa's Green Bin program.  It turns out that our habits are actually pretty good.  We actually do most of these things without even thinking about the impact on the environment, and none of them are inconvenient at all.  Perhaps there are some new ideas for you to try now or in the future!

Green things we do:
  • use reusable shopping bags and bins
  • refill sports water bottles instead of buying bottled water
  • drive very fuel-efficient cars, one of which is diesel (we don't have public transit in our rural town)
  • carpool to work (sometimes I drive with my husband to his job and then bus to Carleton)
  • line dry laundry outside (don't do this when it's snowy, but probably could)
  • cloth diaper our baby and use cloth wipes (it's actually way cheaper and easier than you'd think!)
  • breastfeed our baby (lets us avoid unnecessary packaging for formula)
  • buy used baby clothing (we'd do this even more if we didn't receive so many clothes as gifts)
  • fewer toilet flushes (sounds gross, I know, but it doesn't really need it every time!)
  • cook and eat whole foods (less packaging!)
  • grow veggies and herbs in the summer
  • buy locally from our farmer's market and butcher
  • compost in our backyard and use the result in our gardens (instead of the green bin)
  • keep our house cool in winter (18 during the day, 15 at night), and air condition only our bedroom and only on the hottest days
  • buy the best quality we can afford so we aren't throwing things out all the time
 What else do you do?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What happens after the Green Bin

If you're like me, you were very excited when the City of Ottawa introduced the Green Bin Program a couple of years back. I study Environmental Engineering here at Carleton and am a self-proclaimed nut about composting! I think it's a great way to reduce the load going to landfills, which are expensive to make and it is becoming more difficult to build new ones. Plus, the final product of composting, compost, can be beneficial to farmlands and gardens. It's a win-win!

Recently, I was a part of a group who was invited to visit the facilities where material from the Green Bin is processed into compost. It is really great to get to see a process that you learn about outside of class in a real life!

When material from the Green Bin arrives, it is shredded to decrease size of some of the larger particles. Then material is piled and basically moved around in different piles under different conditions to help degrade the material.

For organics, such as kitchen waste, paper products, tissue and other items, to decompose it needs the right amount of water and air. When these elements are controlled, or engineered, the composting process is optimized to take less time. It really is a thing of beauty.

The final product is a light and fluffy material that has a nice earthy smell. Any plastic, metal, rocks or other more difficult to degrade items have all been removed in the process and the compost can be readily applied to farmland and gardens to provide necessary nutrients. We had a great visit and I hope that you've learnt a little bit about where your organics from the Green Bin go... and more importantly, I hope you like using your Green Bin as much as I do!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Congratulations to Natalie Linklater, Winner of CEMF Scholarship!

Our very own CU-WISE Outreach Officer Natalie Linklater has been awarded the national $15,000 Claudette MacKay-Lassonde scholarship from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation!

From the press release:
She has been selected from candidates across the country for the esteemed $15,000 scholarship which is awarded annually to the most promising women in a graduate engineering program at the PhD level in Canada. Natalie personifies the definitive qualities of the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde scholarship by not only achieving great personal success, but also through her many contributions to her community and the engineering profession.

“Through Natalie’s many successes in the engineering world and her community we can see she truly embodies the qualities that make her the ideal candidate for the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde scholarship. On behalf of CEMF we are thrilled to support her as an ambassador and as a leader to help break down barriers and educate women in Canada who are currently pursuing or considering a degree in engineering,” says CEMF president Huntley O’Connor, P.Eng

Congrats Natalie on this well-deserved award!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Girl Develop It Ottawa: A Developer’s Guide to Interaction and Interface Design

Check out the upcoming workshop for Girl Develop It Ottawa - it looks awesome!

From the GDI Ottawa blog:
Have you ever wondered what role design plays in development? How are design decisions made? Are you a developer who is designing and implementing your own interface without the support of an interaction designer?

During this 2-hour course, we’ll review some common interface design patterns and test drive some pragmatic approaches you can use to create and validate simple, intuitive interactions. Topics include: Basic Controls, Page Layout, Forms, Menus and Wizards.

This course will be packed with examples, with plenty of time for hands-on exercises!

Find out more details and RSVP here
 Don't quote me on it, but I bet this course will fill up fast, so do sign up soon if you're interested!

Help Design a Book for Computer Science Beginners

Originally posted on my blog, The Female Perspective of Computer Science.

Bringing computer science to the masses is my passion, through education and outreach.  I've run mini-courses for girls, designed a video game, lead workshops for professional women, taught arts and social science students, and TA'ed for computer science students.  Now I have a chance to broaden my impact thanks to a professor named Binto George, who contacted me about a book he wanted to write.

Our book is all about exploring what computer science is, and finding the beauty in it.  We're going to look at a variety of CS topics in everyday contexts.  We are taking extra care to make the content appealing to a wider audience, women included.  Our main targeted use is for non-major CS courses like the one I taught for arts and social science students, though we hope that many more people than that will enjoy it.

We recently put together a really short survey to help determine the best topics to focus on.  We would very much like to have your input on what you'd like to see.  We would very much appreciate the two or three minutes it would take for you to fill it in.

Thank you so much, and watch this space for periodic updates as the project progresses!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Women of EA: What's it Really Like?

This video is quite positive about working for video game company Electronic Arts, even as a minority female.

I am happy to see this, but I can't help but question what it's really like.  I have heard so many horror stories about excruciating hours and lack of life balance.

What do you think? Have things changed?