Laurie Burns McRobbie

2015 "Techie Women Have More" Remarks

Hello, everyone, and let me join Lauren [Robel] and Maureen [Biggers] in welcoming you to our second Annual “Techie Women Have More…” Conference and to tonight’s dinner! From the sound of the conversations earlier and just the general level of energy in the room, it’s been a terrific day and tomorrow promises to be the same.  I want to thank all of the presenters for your contributions to such a stellar program, and I want to thank all of the attendees who made it fun and engaging.

I also want to send a special “thank you” to Jenny Hertel for her superb work in organizing this conference, and also what she does to make CEWiT run, day in and day out.  And I want to thank the members of the CEWiT Advisory Council, some of whom are here tonight, for their invaluable advice and guidance.

Finally, I want to thank all the men in the room and those who are our allies and advocates.  Diversity in the tech sector is about everyone, not just women, and we are grateful for your support.

When we launched CEWiT in October of 2013, we knew that it would take some time for awareness and involvement to build, but both have happened more quickly than we dared hope. Last year’s “Techie Women Have More…” conference gained such positive attention that faculty, staff, and alumnae wanted in on the fun, and attendance has nearly doubled. I’d like to personally welcome those of you who are new this time and encourage all of you take full advantage of this year’s expanded program. Your presence today is testimony that women do want more engagement with technology. I’m happy that CEWiT gives you opportunities to share your techie passions and interests – no matter your skill-level, disciplines, career stage, or background. 

Brief History and Growth of CEWiT

Since March is Women’s History Month, tonight is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments. Last October, we celebrated CEWiT’s first anniversary and shared all the ways CEWiT inspires IU’s women to actively engage with technology.

Increasing the numbers of women in computing and technology is fundamental to CEWiT’s mission. But CEWiT is also committed to a larger and visionary goal: empowering and motivating women so they want to remain in tech and computing, as well as in the tech-enabled careers of the 21st century.

CEWiT’s integrated approach sets us apart from other programs focused on supporting women in technology fields. Our pioneering model is one that reaches across disciplines, career paths, and life stages to strengthen and ensure inclusivity for women who are interested in technology at Indiana University.  CEWiT is a living example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, even when those parts – our four alliance groups of students, staff, faculty, and most recently, alumnae – are themselves each active, engaged communities of women.

Alliance updates

Our staff alliance, IU Women in Technology, or IUWIT, spans all eight IU campuses and these members are essential to attracting and retaining females in the tech workforce at IU. Through leadership events and community development activities, IUWIT provides resources and opportunities—like tech job shadowing for students—to keep women in the tech pipelines. Last year, IUWIT co-sponsored a “Gender and Computing” track at the statewide IT Conference that included six well-attended and well-received breakout sessions. IUWIT’s influence on promoting and celebrating the excellence of women in technology is directly impacting IU and tech communities across the state of Indiana and beyond.  I’d like to ask Megan May, current chair of IU-WIT, to stand for our recognition.

More than 350 faculty members are aligned with the CEWiT Faculty Alliance. These faculty members are working across departments to participate in Faculty Mentoring Circles and CEWiT Salons to advance interdisciplinary support and research collaboration. This fall we introduced a new program that also reaches students, the CEWiT Emerging Scholars Research Experience for Undergraduate Women. This program matches students at IU Bloomington’s campus with faculty mentors to conduct research that features a technology or computing related component.

This academic year, there are 23 projects taking place that encompass a wide variety of departments across campus. Projects include a professor and student in education using statistical analysis to determine reading motivations and interests of Rwandan school children; and there’s a professor and student from chemistry partnering with a craft brewery to use molecular techniques to determine wild yeast strains that have potentially beneficial brewing characteristics. From education to chemistry, and communications to psychology, professors and students utilize—and benefit from—CEWiT’s goal to support and strengthen interdisciplinary research at all institutional levels.  Eileen Friel has been an extraordinarily dedicated leader for our Faculty Alliance, and I’d like to ask her to stand.

Recently IU’s alumnae became officially involved with CEWiT. After a survey last fall, nearly 1,200 alumnae expressed interest in CEWiT.  One of these, IU alumna Robin Steis, stepped up to take a leadership role in creating a formal alumnae alliance. By establishing this crucial network between IU and “real world” professionals, we look forward to mutually supporting IU’s women in computing and technology-related professions and the students that seek mentoring in these fields.

The student alliance, Women Empowering Success in Technology, or WESiT, is comprised of nearly 2,000 students across a variety of disciplines. Our WESiT members are creating a vibrant culture of inclusion through their enthusiasm and extracurricular events that introduce and engage women with various forms of technology. WESiT hosts software training, social media and web design workshops, employer information sessions, and “Student Salons” to highlight the research of WESiT members across campus. WESiT events often include some form of “play time” where you’re free to tool around with emerging technologies, like the Oculus Rift, new wearables, or e-textiles.

By building this positive, collaborative, inclusive, and inspiring atmosphere, WESiT members personify CEWiT. These students are our future trailblazers and they will transform the field of technology and computing.  I’d like to ask the leadership team of Lakshmi Chaudhari, Lizzie Mantlo, Hannah Ripley, Elly Woodhouse, and Sophie Bender, to stand for our recognition.

Our programs, events, and networking opportunities have sparked interest and awareness among students, faculty, staff, and administrators. In less than two years, CEWiT has built a transformative community at IU, and is rapidly becoming an essential part of IU’s future.  As Lauren noted earlier, CEWiT is uniquely positioned to be part of a growing culture of building and making at IU Bloomington, ensuring that diversity and inclusivity is built in from the very beginning.

We are successful because of techie women like you, so from all of us in leadership positions, thank you!  CEWiT is destined to empower women for many generations to come. All of us here tonight can and will continue to influence the future of the tech sector by encouraging, supporting, linking, and celebrating women in technology.It is now my pleasure to introduce Mitzi Montoya as our keynote speaker tonight.

Mitzi is Vice President and University Dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Arizona State University. Previously Mitzi served as dean of ASU’s College of Technology & Innovation and vice provost of the ASU Polytechnic campus. She held the Zelnak Chair in Marketing and Innovation in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University, where she founded and led the university-wide Innovation Lab. She also led the development of a new model for higher education that embedded hands-on, real-world projects in the curriculum. 

Mitzi has established ASU as a national leader in the growing maker movement and developed innovative partnerships to advance higher education, including a first-of-its-kind partnership with TechShop that united a public open-prototyping facility with higher education curriculum.  

She serves on the board of several startups and has advised many organizations on topics related to innovation strategy. Her consulting experience includes work with organizations such as Center for Creative Leadership, EDUCAUSE, Xerox, Dow Chemical Company, IBM, and many others.

Please join me in welcoming Mitzi Montoya.