Summer 2007



NCWIT Newsletter – Summer 2007

In This Issue


NCWIT May Meetings Wrap-up
It was with great pleasure that we welcomed so many of you to our hometown of Boulder, Colorado for our May 2007 Meetings and Summit on K-12 IT Education. Along with our co-host, the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing program, we’d like to thank you for your help in creating an event that made us all enlightened, informed, and inspired. Your continued and passionate participation is essential to increasing the number of people from under-represented groups entering computing careers.

NCWIT Award For Aspirations In Computing
In conjunction with our Summit on K-12 IT Education, NCWIT recognized seven young women from the Boulder/Denver area with its inaugural Award for Aspirations in Computing. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing recognizes young women at the high-school level for their computing-related aspirations, and raises the visibility of their work and interests within their local community. Nominees were selected from local metropolitan-area high schools for their demonstrated, outstanding aptitude and interest in information technology/computing; solid leadership ability; good academic history; and plans for post-secondary education. Jared Polis, of the Polis Foundation, presented the winners with an engraved award and a $500 prize.

Aspirations Award Winners

“I’m a ninth-grader, and I won. It was amazing to think – I won this award – what else can I do?”

Pictured, left to right: Lucy Sanders; Award Winners: Kim – Senior, Monarch High School, Louisville; Colette – Freshman, Denver School of Science and Technology; Britta – Junior, Denver School of Science and Technology; Kamaria – Junior, Denver School of Science and Technology; Christina – Junior, Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver; Alia – Senior, Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver; Jared Polis. Not pictured: Daniela – Senior, North High School, Denver.


NCWIT will choose additional award recipients in the Seattle/Redmond area when we hold our November 2007 Meetings there. Speaking of which?

Save The Date: NCWIT November 2007 Meetings
Our next meetings take place November 5-7, 2007, and will be co-hosted with Microsoft and the University of Washington. These meetings will feature a Promising Practices Workshop that will look beyond numerical equality to discuss aspects of gender diversity in IT. Confirmed speakers include Curt Coffman (former Gallup researcher and author of the best-seller, First Break all the Rules); Dr. Evelyn M. Hammonds (Professor of the History of Science and African and African-American Studies and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity at Harvard University); and Dr. Ed Lazowska (the Bill and Melinda Gates Chair at the University of Washington and member of the National Academy of Engineering). Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, will give the opening remarks.

Mark your calendars: NCWIT’s next May meetings are May 13 – 15, 2008, hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In November 2006 NCWIT introduced “Programs-in-a-Box,” turnkey solutions that address pressing issues facing the IT community by supplying all the necessary components for quick and strategic action. We collected great feedback on these Boxes at our November meetings, and launched the revised Boxes in conjunction with our meetings in May. Outreach-in-a-Box: Discovering IT is designed for IT professionals to use with middle-school students; Mentoring-in-a-Box: Technical Women at Work helps women excel in the technical professions and advance to positions of leadership; and Survey-in-a-Box: Student Experience of the Major identifies conditions that are helpful or harmful for student retention and to plan actions to improve the student experience in computing. Visit our website ( to download the boxes or find out more about their contents. A fourth box on faculty mentoring will be launched this summer.

Computing Gets an Image Makeover
Last year, a number of computing organizations partnered to form the Image of Computing Task Force. This task force leads a national, coordinated effort to present a realistic view of opportunities in computing, and aims to educate the public about the increasingly vital role computing plays. Members include Microsoft, HP, Intel, CRA, ACM, SIAM, IEEE_CS, USENIX, NCWIT, AAAI, and the University of Colorado ATLAS Institute. This year, the task force welcomed Jill Ross as its director. Please visit for more about Jill, the Task Force, and the exciting work they will undertake to change the image of computing.

Progress In D.C.
NCWIT has visited Washington, D.C. several times in the past few months, and we continue to partner with ACM and CRA to transmit our messages about innovation and diversity of thought to influential people. Last November we visited with Norm Augustine, one of the key folks behind the National Academies’ “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report and a major opinion-shaper on the Hill, regarding the “Storm” report and its failure to address under-representation in computing/IT. He acknowledged then that it was a gap in the report and promised to work it into future testimony and talks; in March he testified as such before the House Science Committee. Also in March we heard that Peter Ambler, who attended our May 2006 Town Hall in D.C. on behalf of Congressman Reyes’ office, is forming a Diversity and Innovation Caucus to work on these issues. Finally, we have been talking to congressional members and agencies about a military pathways program in IT.

NCWIT Alliances: Change Agents In Action
NCWIT’s alliance members are crucial to making change happen on a large scale: it’s their efforts and passion and commitment that will mark our success in this arena, and we’re proud to share some highlights of their work.

The Academic Alliance (AA) recently welcomed Jennifer Kurtz as its new project manager. Jennifer is working with AA members on action plans, creating an alliance newsletter, and recruiting new members to the AA. She will also coordinate the AA’s new Seed Fund Program (special thanks to Microsoft, lead funder of this program). Lecia Barker and Joanne Cohoon of NCWIT Extension Services continue their work with AA member institutions.

The Entrepreneurial Alliance (EA), funded by the Kauffman Foundation,

announced its formation during EntrepreneurshipWeekUSA in February 2007. The EA just launched its Entrepreneurial Heroes Campaign, an ongoing audio interview series with amazing IT entrepreneurs (who just happen to be women), including Helen Greiner of iRobot, Elaine Wherry of, and Kim Polese of SpikeSource and Marimba. Soon the EA will take on two new projects: a Bizworld curriculum project that teaches entrepreneurial skills to middle-school students, and a panel at the 2007 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.


The K-12 Alliance launched its first project June 25 – 27 at the ISTE-sponsored National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta, which brings together more than 18,000 educators and this year focused on technology’s role in developing 21st-century learners. The K-12 Alliance gave away 4,000 copies of its Gotta Have IT kit, a selection of guides, brochures, activities, posters, and other resources hand-picked to attract middle through high-school students to computing and designed with educators in mind. The K-12 Alliance also plans to create a permanent, national distribution channel that will connect each organization’s region of influence with the educators, parents, and children who can most benefit from them. Much thanks to Intel and Pfizer for their funding of this alliance.

The Workforce Alliance (WA) has just completed its first sponsored research program, a first-ever look at women as IT patent-holders. An executive summary of the report is available at the NCWIT website, and the WA will officially release the full report this summer. While this report illustrates that women still are significantly underrepresented in information technology patenting, it also demonstrates that some progress has been made in the past 20 years. This progress, along with the differences in female patenting rates across companies, suggests that there is no industry-wide systemic reason for the low level of women in IT patenting. Furthermore, the study found higher citation rankings for mixed-gender invention teams. While additional research is needed to understand why mixed-gender teams are cited more frequently, this finding does at least point to potential benefits in innovation that might arise from increasing women’s involvement.

“Grand Challenges” Social Science Workshop
In November 2006, members of the NCWIT Social Science Advisory Board (SSAB) met to pilot a gender and IT “grand challenges” workshop. The motivation for the workshop was to provide social scientists working in the area of gender and IT with the opportunity to become more fully informed about each other’s research interests, projects, expertise, and methodologies. The workshop already has proven to be useful grounding for NCWIT and its broader community, and the SSAB plans to continue its work on identifying and addressing grand challenges. The next workshop will be held in November 2007.

New NCWIT Practices and Publications
In May NCWIT launched five new Promising Practices sheets, with more on the way this fall. Also in May we released a Promising Practices Guide to K-12 Informal IT Education, produced by the Girl Scouts of the USA with research from the Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology. We recently updated our popular By the Numbers statistics sheet, and this summer, in addition to the WA’s patent report, we will launch the Scorecard. We’ll target national media with these and other announcements, working to elevate the conversation on women and IT to a national level.

NCWIT in the News
On the subject of conversations at the national level, it’s worth mentioning that NCWIT has received a bit of media attention in recent months. Articles mentioning NCWIT have appeared in Forbes, the New York Times, and the San Jose Mercury News, as well as the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Boulder County Business Report. Visit our press room at to read all about it.

Website Redesign
We’re undertaking a redesign of the NCWIT website later this summer, with the goal of updating our design, streamlining information, making the navigation more intuitive, and making our resources easier to find. We welcome your suggestions and feedback – please get in touch with us at

About the National Center for Women & Information Technology
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a growing coalition of over 100 respected corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits working aggressively to increase women’s participation in information technology (IT.) NCWIT believes that women’s participation is a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability. Its goal is professional IT workforce parity in 20 years, and its work will connect efforts along the entire pipeline from K-12 and higher education through industry and academic careers. To find out more, please visit sponsorbanner.jpg

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