Saturday, November 10, 2007

NCWIT report from Seattle

This Blog post is contributed by my esteemed co-chair Susan Rodger -- it took me a few days to post it into this Blog, but I do believe it is worth the brief wait -- the goals of NCWIT line up well with those of SIGCSE in general, and SIGCSE 2008 in particular -- Enjoy, J.D.


I just got back from my first NCWIT meeting held in Seattle, Washington. NCWIT stands for National Center for Women & Information Technology. They have been meeting since May 2005, and Duke has been a member, but this is my first time in attending. There were 200-300 people attending, all dedicated to increasing interest in IT.

As I saw at the meeting, NCWIT has been very active in producing many products to attract women to IT. For example, they have created Program-in-a-Box programs to provide all the materials you need for a presentation on a topic such as outreach. The "box" is actually just online resources, easily accessible.

An example is "Outreach-In-A-Box: Discovering IT"

This box has lots of materials to help provide you with an outreach presentation to a middle school including sample letters to introduce yourself to the school, activites you can do with kids, presentation slides, and a tech brochure.

The NCWIT meeting had a practices workshop for all the attendees that was held at Microsoft and included two Keynote speakers. Curt Coffman, the author of the best-seller First Break All the Rules gave a very lively talk on attracting and engaging talented people with many great suggestions. The second keynote speaker was Evelynn Hammonds from Harvard who spoke about rationale for diversity in science and technology.

NCWIT has several alliances, Academic, K-12, Workforce and Entreprenurial. As part of the meeting the individual alliances meet. Duke is a member of the Acadmic Alliance. This alliance met to discuss issues on recruiting, curriculum, and climate.

As part of every NCWIT meeting, there is an awards ceremony for recognizing young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. On the second day of NCWIT, the awards ceremony was held at the University of Washington.

If you are not a member of NCWIT, consider joining one of the alliances. They have two meetings a year and have created an enormous amount of resources for diversity in the pipeline at all levels.

NCWIT will be attending SIGCSE 2008, so stop by and talk to NCWIT representatives to find out more about the NCWIT meetings and alliances.

-- Susan