A First-timer’s Perspective

On May 15-16, NCWIT held its bi-annual meetings at its home base here in Boulder, Colorado. More than 250 members of NCWIT’s Alliances, Social Science Advisory Board, and Board of Directors joined with participants of the NSF’s Broadening Participating in Computing program for a summit on K-12 IT education and discussions about their work.

As the new Director of the Image of Computing Task Force, this was my first time in attendance. Never have I seen so much personal engagement by so many with a common cause: to support women and information technology. Surrounding me were faces of many colors and issues as broad as the spectrum of a rainbow, all here to discover new and better ways of attracting girls to study computing and attracting women to join the IT workforce.

At the reception, each person I met told a story about their passion for finding solutions to the complex issues that keep women away from computing careers. Beneath a beautiful sunset over the Rocky Mountains, we enjoyed a delicious spread of hors d’oeuvres laid delicately across decorated tables.

Snazzy new conference badges with our individual schedules printed on the back were a big hit with the crowd, although so many attendees had become old friends by now that names were more than familiar. I heard people talk about working tirelessly side-by-side, year after year, just to make small changes. They are frustrated at how slow the process is to make the major reform that is so needed, but takes years to come about. I could feel their resolve just watching them and hearing the buzz in the breakout sessions.

These people, from all different walks of life, remain solid in their quest to reach a new generation of girls. This year, NCWIT publicly recognized seven high school girls who took notable interest in computing, presenting them each with an inaugural NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award to fuel their passion. Those of us in the audience cheered these young women in hopes that they will pass the torch for computing to make it all it can be for our people and our country. The future is in their hands.

Jill Ross is Director of the Image of Computing Task Force. To learn more about the image of computing , please visit www.imageofcomputing.com.

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