Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Women in Technology

This is the reading packet I sent to a man who questioned the need for the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for women in Computer Science and related fields. I had the privilege of meeting and congratulating the finalists for this year's scholarship.

The Anita Borg Scholarship:
Dr. Anita Borg (1949-2003) devoted her adult life to revolutionising the way we think about technology and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. Her combination of technical expertise and fearless vision continues to inspire and motivate countless women to become active participants and leaders in creating technology.
As part of Google’s ongoing commitment to furthering Anita’s vision, we are pleased to announce the 2010 Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. Through the scholarship, we aim to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders.
Scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of candidates’ academic background and demonstrated leadership. A group of female undergraduate and graduate student finalists will be chosen from the applicant pool. Each scholar recipient will receive a $5,000 scholarship towards the 2011 academic year.
I'd also like to add: 
All the women at the retreat have spent significant amounts of time actively mentoring younger women in eng, organising outreach programs both university women and high school girls. The Anita Borg Scholarship is in recognition of these efforts, in addition to being a high-achieving woman in computer science. As such, I would not have been a good candidate for this scholarship, on account that I did little for the advancement of women at the University of Canterbury, despite the glaring problem of being 1 of 5 females in a pool of about 70 students.

This is the book we studied for the Anita Borg Scholarship Retreat this year:
Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher
In which the authors do a study by interviewing over 100 CS students at Carnegie Mellon University. I highly recommend this book, as the experiences described by the women who were interviewed are very common amongst the women in engineering whom I have talked to.

Some other interesting links:

On privilege and why you won't have heard of the comments I spoke about ("you're only here because you're a girl", "why are you making your life harder by doing X", "you'll be meeting lots of eligible bachelors at Google")

Anita Borg Institute research index:

Feminism 101 has a lot of clarifying articles:

If you're feeling very ambitious, I recommend reading all the articles here:

Enjoy some weekend reading!

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