Sofia V.

INTERVIEW WITH DR. MARIA KLAWE 10/1/2014

(0:02) How do you increase student knowledge about this lack of diversity and the importance of closing the gap, (specifically students who might not be privy to these kinds of lectures and aware of this gender gap)?

So I think one of the most important things is to talk about it. It’s really surprising that this is the only discipline where participation by women has declined. So talking about how unusual it is that you have these great jobs, and not enough people for them, and that women could do really well in computer science, and they’re not doing it. So you know, I actually I mean there have been articles in the press, there are blogs about it, there’s tv and radio. But I actually I think among student communities [you should] put it on your Facebook page, share it with your friends, encourage your friends to make it go viral.

(1:07) Do you have any advice for girls or minorities who are at universities where they are especially underrepresented, somewhere where they’re not as fortunate as we are at Trinity to kind of have equal footing? Or places where the “bro-culture” is very prevalent?
I think one of the really important things is to talk to the department chair. In my experience, the place that most change comes from is from the department chair. It’s also really important and it sounds terrible but, whining is not usually the right approach. Usually being constructive and optimistic and saying ‘I’d love to work with you to change this’ and ‘here are some of the ideas I have’. You can look at things like the Anita Borg Institute, NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology), there’s a variety of organizations that basically give you a bunch of tools to make change. So going to your department chair with enthusiasm and preferably a couple of you so it’s not so scary, and saying we’d really love to help make this a place where women have a great experience. We’ve looked up all of these resources and here are the kinds of things that make a difference, and we’d like to work with you to make it happen. I think most faculty members, particularly department chairs, when they have a couple of energetic and enthusiastic young women coming and saying we want to help you change the culture, they embrace it. The second thing is, if you try that, and you basically get a department chair who is sort of too tired, go to the department administrator or the secretary and ask who the most friendly or the person most likely to follow to be interested in this, and then follow that advice. So start with the chair because it’s always best to start there, but then if you get pushed back or if you just don’t get a lot of enthusiasm with them saying, “I’m really too busy to take this on”, then you talk to the secretary or administrator, because she will always know, it’s almost always a she, and she will know who cares about this issue.

Maria Klawe

(0:02) How do you increase student’s knowledge about this lack of diversity and the importance of closing the gap, (specifically student’s who might not be privy to these kinds of lectures and aware of this gender gap)?

 

So I think one of the most important things is to talk about it. It’s really surprising that this is the only discipline where participation by women has declined. So talking about how unusual it is that you have these great jobs, and not enough people for them, and that women could do really well in computer science, and they’re not doing it. So you know, I actually I mean there have been articles in the press, there are blogs about it, there’s tv and radio. But I actually I think among student communities [you should] put it on your Facebook page, share it with your friends, encourage your friends to make it go viral.

 

(1:07) Do you have any advice for girls or minorities who are at universities where they are especially underrepresented, somewhere where they’re not as fortunate as we are at Trinity to kind of have equal footing? Or places where the “bro-culture” is very prevalent?

 

I think one of the really important things is to talk to the department chair. In my experience, the place that most change comes from is the department chair. It’s also really important and it sounds terrible but, whining is not usually the right approach. Usually being constructive and optimistic and saying ‘I’d love to work with you to change this’ and ‘here are some of the ideas I have’. You can look at things like the Anita Borg Institute, NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology), there’s a variety of organizations that basically give you a bunch of tools to make change. So going to your department chair with enthusiasm and preferably a couple of you so it’s not so scary, and saying we’d really love to help make this a place where women have a great experience. We’ve looked up all of these resources and here are the kinds of things that make a difference, and we’d like to work with you to make it happen. I think most faculty members, particularly department chairs, when they have a couple of energetic and enthusiastic young women coming and saying we want to help you change the culture, they embrace it. The second thing is, if you try that, and you basically get a department chair who is sort of too tired, go to the department administrator or the secretary and ask who the most friendly or the person most likely to follow to be interested in this, and then follow that advice. So start with the chair because it’s always best to start there, but then if you get pushed back or if you just don’t get a lot of enthusiasm with them saying, “I’m really too busy to take this on”, then you talk to the secretary or administrator, because she will always know, it’s almost always a she, and she will know who cares about this issue.

Interview with Dr. Luz Cristal Glangchai 9/22/2014

When approaching an investor with a start-up, you talked about often times there aren’t very many women there. Did you feel like you had to pitch differently because you are a woman? “So the interesting thing is, I don’t know if I felt like I had to pitch differently because there were no women to pitch to, but I did feel like I had to dress very conservatively, like in a suit. I tried not to show my femininity. So I didn’t feel like I had to be more aggressive, but I did feel like I had to dress more like a man.”

So you experienced this with NanoTaxi (her first company), did you feel like you had to that when you were pitching VentureLab? “By the time I got to VentureLab I didn’t care any more what the guys thought, so I just dress like this (gestured to self).”

What skills should all women be proficient in in technology? “That is kind of a hard thing to say, ‘All women.’ But, I mean, everyone needs to know excel, everyone should need to know how to do a presentation, whether it’s keynote or powerpoint, everyone should know how to use a computer, cellphones.”

Would you recommend coding at all? “I don’t think that everyone needs to know coding, I think it’s good that everyone tries it. Like for me, I’ve tried coding, it’s just not my thing. I like mechanical stuff better. But I think everyone should definitely try it and take a class on it. I took a class a long time ago in C+, so I suggest everyone tries it to see if they like it or not, but I don’t think it is a skill you have to have.”

What would you describe VentureLab’s work culture as? “Part of our core values, one is to always be innovative, two is to have fun, and three is to make sure it is always a safe environment. Our environment is very laid back, so jeans, shorts, t-shirts. I’d say that is more the techie feel, so like, if you go to Geekdom or RackSpace, everyone is very low-key and casual.”

When you worked in engineering did you feel like you had the same opportunities as men to advance? “No, definitely not. No, so it…the interesting thing, and this happens a lot, is ou’d go and you’d make a presentation and you’d say this great idea and then you’d sit down and then the guys next to you–say his name is Jim–would be like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this great idea, we’re going to do x.’ And all of the other guys are like, ‘Ah, that’s so awesome.’ And there you are sitting there saying, ‘Wait a second, I just said that.’ There is some sort of weird, subconscious thing where the guys in the room, they don’t kind of notice you’re there. It is very very interesting, I’ve had this happen like three times.  So one time I was in an investor meeting and they needed an expert in nanoscience, and these guys all knew me, like we’re friends. And they were like, ‘Gosh you know, we really need this advisor to help us on this nanoscience issue,’ and they were like, ‘What about Bob, what about Joe?’ and I was just sitting there seeing how long it would take for them to say my name. So finally I raise my hand and was like, ‘Guys, right here.’ So, there’s just something interesting that I think even when women are going in, trying to get to the next level the management are guys that just kinds of overlook you.”

How do women in tech treat other women? Is it competitive? Collaborative? Indifferent? How would you describe that? “You know, I don’t know because there have never been that many women that I’ve worked with. I think some of the older women have been a little more competitive, but I’d say a lot of the younger women are a lot more collaborative.”

How do you think women and technology at the academic or university level compare to women at the professional level? “One thing that I’ve noticed is that women in academia were definitely much less collaborative, but I think that is true of a lot of professors. The kind of have that pompous mindset. I think the women in tech industry were much more jaded, because as a professor it is much more of a cushy job, and in tech you’re working 60-80 hours a week non-stop.”

How would you advise women in college to getting into the entrepreneurship field? “I’d say take a business class. I don’t think there are any technology commercialization classes [at Trinity University] but I would definitely say that. Because before I took that class I was just pure engineering and science and that was the class that completely changed everything for me. So for me, personally, I would take a technology commercialization class.”

1960s

A primary source of storing data at the time was “punching” the information onto cards. This was considered clerical work, and a keypunching operator position was a common job for women in the 1960s.  Here a woman is shown punching data onto cards.

For more photos and details on the evolution of the punch card and the people who worked these computers see the The Punch Card’s Pedigree page.

Photo courtesy of International Business Machines (IBM) Corporate, circa 1965.

Photo courtesy of International Business Machines (IBM) Corporate, circa 1965

 

 


 

Advancements in technology during this time helped make things such as air travel more efficient. SABRE, one of the most widely publicized and influential computerized reservation systems, was co-produced by American Airlines and IBM. It was used starting in 1964, and it was often operated by women as shown in the picture below.

To read more about SABRE and its role as technology, see the Mainframes in Daily Life page.

Women operating SABRE. Photo courtesy of IBM Corporate Archive, circa 1964.

Women operating SABRE. Photo courtesy of IBM Corporate Archive, circa 1964.

 


 

Programming for new computers was a slow and tedious process. This was aided by tools such as the flowchart template seen below, which helped make writing a large program simpler.  The image below shows an IBM programmer mapping out instructions using the flowchart template to display a logical flow of the program.

For more information about the progression of programming in time, see this Higher Level Languages page.

Photo courtesy of IBM Corporate Archive, circa 1965.

Photo courtesy of IBM Corporate Archive, circa 1965.

 


 

 

Women around the world were involved with technology: the picture below shows a woman working at TeleMisr, an Egyptian state owned television set manufacturing plant. In this plant, nearly half of the six hundred employees were women.

To find out more about labor culture and history through time, see the Rutgers University library page for an index of sources.

Woman operating a television set manufacturing plant (circa 1963).

Woman operating a television set manufacturing plant (circa 1963). Photo courtesy of egyptindependent.com

 


 

The role of the female typist, sometimes called a “girl operator” in technology was seen as clerical work and not a part of the “higher” thinking jobs in tech. Here these advertisements depict the computers as being simple enough for a mundane person to use by showcasing a typist as the main user. Although women in these roles usually did much more than secretarial work, and were mostly immersed in the technology that they used, they were not recognized for being technologically literate. They were most likely stuck in the preconceived notions of basic clerical work.

For more on the history of women in computing in Britain between 1950-1970, see Marie Hicks’ blog.

From left to right: An advertisement for the "Susie" machine and an advertisement for the Baric (circa 1967).

From left to right: An advertisement for the “Susie” machine and an advertisement for the Baric (circa 1967). Photo courtesy of Marie Hicks blog.

 

 

Interview with Dr. Kimberly Hambuchen 10/08/2014


(0:12) Did you play a lot of video games when you were younger?

I didn’t, I had this conversation at lunch today and somebody was telling me you obviously play some kind of game, I don’t know. I played Nintendo Super Mario Brothers and that was it. I take that back I did play quite a bit of Atari when I was very young. But I was’t like a gamer. I would not call myself a gamer at all. I actually went to arcades and played the big machines, that was big when I was in middle school. So I did that sort of thing, everybody did that. So no! I really didn’t.

(0:52) We were all wondering about it because you said that joysticks were used to control the robot’s movement.

Yeah and you know honestly I makes me crazy to run these robots, I just ended up in this position because that’s the software I develop, but it makes me crazy. When I can hand it off to somebody off I’m like yee-haw you go for it just make sure you don’t crash the robot. So it’s not really that I enjoy the running of the robots so much it’s the human interaction side. How do we make these robots easier to operate.

(1:24) Would you say that’s one of the most rewarding aspects of you job? What would you say is the most rewarding and whats the coolest technology you’ve ever used?

I mean I going to nerd out and say coming and doing things like this, getting to spread the word on what we’re actually doing, especially when we have little kids come, and girls who are really interested in robots. They want to participate in their first robotics team but they don’t know if they just want to hang out with all the boys, they don’t know. Seeing girls get really excited to see another girl telling them about you know what she does in robots and this advanced work, so thats really the best part of my job. And i get to do that a lot because we do a lot of tours at NASA. Coolest technology, I was recently blown away by something we did, I want to say it was when we finally got Valkyrie walking and it actually walked over to something, like a valve, and it turned the valve, we were all just stunned, we couldn’t believe it was actually happening. So really that robot, in the time frame we put that thing together, I can’t believe we did it and actually made it do some stuff, you know, more than some other teams actually were doing at the competition, so Valkyrie is a really cool robot, its gorgeous when you see it move it also is mechanically and control wise, which is getting really technical, it is the best robot we’ve ever built.

(3:24) And she’s a she, which is original in itself.

That was someone’s idea on the team and we were like thats beautiful, that’s a brilliant idea lets go with it. I would say Valkyrie is probably the coolest piece of technology I’ve seen so far.

(3:41) And speaking of Valkyrie and the failure you experienced at the DARPA competition, what kind of advice would you give to young students, especially girls, because a lot of times girls will get into math or computer science classes and they’ll get impostor syndrome, where they feel like they’re doing worst than everyone else. So what advice would you give them about accepting failure and learning from it?

I have lived impostor syndrome for years, its only in the last few years, that I was like okay you can stop doubting yourself, you’re not pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes. I think it may be a process of maturity, because I also know a lot of guys that I work with who still are like, somebody is going to figure me out soon, I think its a personality type, because I know a lot of guys who think they’re the greatest and they don’t know jack. They don’t know what they’re talking about, and I also know women who do that too. I don’t know how you get the experience into someone to tell them that they really are good enough, earlier than they’re going to experience it. I don’t really know, just at some point in your life you will realize you belong. But the failure thing its, in robots everything we do is a team effort, so the failure was everyones and its a lot easier to deal with when your entire team has failed. You’ve got people who can finally start to make jokes with you when you’ve stopped drowning your sorrows. Almost everything I do in robotics is a team effort, most of the time failure is a combination of everyones failures. It’s pretty easy to deal with failure when you’ve got a bunch of other people who are in your same boat. It’s not just one person who caused the failure, its a collection of issues that developed over a specific period of time, but then personal failures well I screwed up that, just keep chugging along. I don’t take set backs very hard or personally, but then I also don’t really celebrate the huge major achievements like I should, which is part of the impostor syndrome, they’ve never really effected me that badly, everything I’ve screwed up or failed at was, so cliche, a learning experience.

(6:45) Is that the advice you would give students, young girls especially, you just kind of learn from you failures?

Exactly, just go out there and do it jump off the bridge, because what’s the worst that can happen, I mean you fail and then you move forward.

The Complexity of Women Helping Women In the Tech Industry

When looking at the numbers of  women in technology, especially computer science, we find that they are far outnumbered by male associates and CEOs[1]. And it can be discouraging for women pursuing careers in this industry. This is particularly applicable to the female entrepreneurs at the investment stage of a new technology company. For example, when pitching to an audience full of male investors, women are often turned away without real consideration for their products or ideas regarding technology, simply because they are female[2]. One straightforward solution to this problem is that women should pitch to women, or rather startups that cater to women, and they will have better luck. While this might be true and very beneficial to female entrepreneurs, it is a complex solution.

This solution appears beneficial on a surface level, but in reality it also reinforces women as the “other” in the world of entrepreneurship and startups. It almost gives male investors an excuse to push aside female startups and direct them to female investors. Many women realize this and openly acknowledge that this furthers the idea that women can’t thrive in a male-dominant field.  In the article by Issie Lapowsky, “This is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like” from Wired, Danielle Weinblatt, Founder and CEO of the company Take the Interview, admits she is frustrated with this so-called solution[3]. Before she closed the deal for her company, Weinblatt was often redirected to female investors. She understood this was meant to be a solution to her being turned down by male investors, but it made her “feel like being a woman is something to overcome”.[4] In other words, it might be comforting for women to seek other women on the grounds that their gender won’t be held against them, but it also means that women are unable to break through the “bro-culture”.

Part of the complexity of women entrepreneurs seeking funding specifically for women, is admitting that we need these companies. There are empowering and progressive intentions behind these companies[5]. Yet at the same time, it says something about how women may not be able to go past this. Women should eventually be able to pitch to male investors without any concerns that gender could hold them back.  According to Scarlett Sieber, vice president of Operations at Infomous, if we keep business exclusively between women, we aren’t making as much progress as we could if we included men[6].  If there was a balance of sorts, perhaps as long as we encourage female and male investors, it won’t necessarily be understood as a handicap to some. As we have often said in class, in order to make some major changes, we have to start small. Perhaps starting small means admitting that sometimes women need to help women, while also including men in the conversation about the gender gap.

[1] Miller, Claire. “Technology’s Man Problem”. New York Times. 5 April 2014. Web 16 Sept. 2014

[2] Lapowsky, Issie. “This Is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like”. Wired. 28 July 2014. Web 16 Sept. 2014

[3] Lapowsky

[4] Lapowsky

[5]  Casserly, Meghan. “Tipping the Scales: Women Angel Investing Reaches All-Time High”. Forbes. 25 April 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2014

[6] Sieber, Scarlett. “Including Men in the Conversation About Women”. Huffington Post: The Blog. 02 June 2014. Web 17 Sept. 2014.

Create with Code: Apps, Web and More

New name: CSCI 1300 Create with Code: Apps, Web and More

Credits: 3 hours

Short description: The 15 week semester is divided into 5 week parts with one project every 5 weeks. These projects include: Scala (or some basic coding introduction), App Inventor (app development), and Web Development. Once a week, there is an in-class workshop, where students are allowed to go around the room and view each other’s developing projects. This workshop helps to unify the class, fight the bro-culture in tech (because everyone is supporting each other), and develop ideas. There are no tests just project check- up. There can even be a humanitarian aspect, or you could even have an overall theme. But really, the course should inspire creativity and develop computational thinking skills. At the end of the semester students will have basic coding understanding, will have created an application, and will have a personal website for themselves to use in the future.

Why: This course is needed because it encourages everyone to establish a basis of code literacy, which is necessary in order to understand our tech-focused world.

Prerequisites?: There would be no prerequisites required for this course and it would be a part of the Common Curriculum. Therefore, anyone would be able take this class at any time throughout their career here at Trinity.