Laurie Burns McRobbie

CEWiT First Anniversary Celebration

Welcome to CEWiT’s First Anniversary

Welcome everyone to CEWiT’s first anniversary celebration! It’s been an exciting year to watch CEWiT grow to become a vital part of this campus. This remarkable growth includes a student alliance of nearly 2,000 students, the faculty alliance of over 300 faculty, and a staff alliance that spans all eight IU campuses.  We also now have over 1,200 alumnae affiliations, and I’d like to recognize Robin Sties, a Kelley alum, for her work in getting us started and for coming from Washington, D.C. to be with us today. 

I’d also like to recognize Maureen Biggers, who has been an instrumental and tireless leader for CEWiT, from the very beginning. Maureen, thank you for your hard work and inspiration – it’s been a joy to work with you and to see CEWiT evolve under your leadership.

CEWiT: What It’s All About

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about CEWiT and how it is creating positive change for everyone at IU, and in the tech community at large.

Last October, we officially launched CEWiT at Indiana University Bloomington. But leading up to the launch, women students, faculty and staff across scores of disciplines and departments had been participating in the planning, and in events and learning experiences that connected and inspired us to do more.

The staff alliance, IU-WIT, was formed before CEWiT planning began, but we joined forces early on. IU-WIT has been organizing monthly leadership talks for staff, as well as networking events and mentoring activities. IU-WIT has been a consistent link across the state as it helps IU’s professional IT women increase their technical and leadership skills.  IUWIT co-sponsored a “Gender and Computing” track at the Statewide IT Conference that included 6 breakout sessions.

The Faculty Alliance, which came into existence with CEWiT and focuses on the Bloomington campus, created a program called CEWiT Salons in Spring of 2013.  The Salons occur 3-4 times each semester and feature tech-related research by women faculty at IUB, followed by social networking time.  They have already proved to be terrific opportunities for making interdisciplinary connections and collaborations. 

Another Faculty Alliance program, “CEWiT Circles,” was launched this year as a model way to informally bring faculty across disciplines together to share issues, ideas, and experiences in their academic careers.  The Circles involve nearly 100 women from many different departments, and already have sparked deep discussions and informed future directions for the Alliance and for CEWiT more generally.  

The student alliance, Women Empowering Success in Technology, or WESiT, has positively influenced many aspects of life on this campus. WESiT has sponsored job talks, promoted awareness campaigns about vast tech-related academic and extracurricular opportunities, organized non-credit programming classes to earn e-badges, advanced professional development programs for PhD women, and much more. WESiT also held skill-development workshops, including an E-Textiles Workshop. This event gave students an opportunity to learn about wearable technology and then create their own light-up t-shirts!

Additionally, CEWiT has also become a great resource for research and funding opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Last fall, CEWiT awarded 10 students with an “Aspirations in Computing Scholarship” to help promote involvement and success for women in tech at IU.

This fall, CEWiT created a new “Emerging Scholars Research Experiences for Undergraduate Women” program. This program provides an opportunity for 20 students to be matched with a faculty member and receive funding for research support.

Earlier this spring, CEWiT hosted the first-ever “Techie Women Have More” Conference, which included speakers, plenary sessions, poster sessions and networking opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to learn more about engagement in technology.  We will hold this conference again next spring, on March 6th and 7th, here in the IMU.

Just a few weeks ago, CEWiT sent five students to the Grace Hopper Celebration. As you know, this conference is the premier event for women in tech. I am continually amazed by the positive experiences shared by women that reach far beyond tips for tech and computer science professionals.

Grace Hopper celebrates, encourages, and empowers women in the tech field. With the disproportionate representation of males to female in the tech sector, it’s that much more important that programs like CEWiT exist to provide an avenue for women to engage with, explore, and be encouraged by other techie, and tech-involved, women.

The five students who attended the Grace Hopper Celebration blogged about their experiences. Meghan McGrath, currently a graduate student in Information and Library Science in the School of Informatics and Computing, attended the conference and wrote this reflective entry that – in my opinion – captures one of the overall goals of CEWiT:

“I was worried it might be a bit intimidating, but it wasn’t at all. And while it was fun picking up Google socks and Rubix cubes and hearing about the user experience branches of different companies, the best part was just learning to talk professionally about technology. That’s something that has always seemed scary to me, but after three days and dozens of opportunities to practice, I feel a lot more excited about it—and more willing to participate in future conversations…”

It is clear that—after just one year—CEWiT has stepped in and stepped up opportunities for women across IU. By interconnecting communities and driving positive change, CEWiT continues to encourage, support, link, and celebrate women in technology.

I look forward to celebrating future CEWiT’s successes as we continue to engage more women in tech at IU!

Introduction of Omoju Miller

It is now my great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker for today, Omoju Miller.

Omoju is an inspiring and talented leader in the tech world, where she manages to maintain a successful career as a Technology Portfolio Manager at Google all while completing her PhD in computer science at UC Berkeley.

In addition to her current work and doctoral research, Omoju is lead researcher at the “Hiphopathy Project” at UC Berkeley, which uses artificial intelligence techniques to deepen our understanding of human cognition and reason in hip hop lyrics.

Omoju has served as an advisor to the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows where she led advisory teams on inclusion and diversity in technology.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel that Omoju was part of at the 2nd annual Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women in Indianapolis.  We had a lively and engaged discussion about the challenges and opportunities for women in tech, from a wide range of perspectives. 

Omoju’s ideas – about education, curricular reform, how we can mentor men to be our allies, and more – were very insightful and resonated with everyone in the room.  I know we’re in for a real treat this afternoon.

Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Omoju to the podium.