2014 NCWIT Summit – NCWIT@10

[audience chattering]

LUCY SANDERS: Good afternoon, everybody. Hello? [audience responding] Ann Lisowska, so nice to see you. [audience laughing] How we doing? [audience responding] Alright, well, happy birthday to all of you. Yeah! A welcome back from a morning of great alliance meetings. I’m very happy to be here with you for the next 30 minutes to do a little bit of a look back in time on the history of NCWIT. I’d also like to take the opportunity to welcome back our remote viewers who are watching over livestream courtesy of Turner Media. Or, Turner Broadcasting, our media partner. So a round of applause again for Turner. Thank you. So, we’re going to look back in time. It’s going to be fun. I have to tell you that I did an archeological deep dive of my file system which was a pretty scary thought and I have pictures of all of you that I’m going to email you after this presentation so you can see what you looked like ten years ago. Before we look back in time, I want to thank our financial sponsors again because without them, the last ten years would not have been possible and we would not have the programs that we have today that are really impacting girls and women in computing. So a round of applause for our financial partners. [audience applauding] So, here’s how we’re gonna do it. I have divided the last ten years into two-year chunks, alright, because I just couldn’t think about doing this in year-increments, it was too hard. So, and then for each one of these chunks, we have a guest speaker who’s going to come up and give you a remembrance from that period of time from his or her or their perspectives. So, I think many of you know, we got started with an NSF grant in about 2004, officially, but there’s a lot of pre-work before that. And right about that time I was thinking, how hard can this be? Bobby Schnabel and others from NSF said this can be very hard, but the very first thing we did when we put the grant proposal in was we just decided we’re gonna look really big. We are a national center, so we have to look like a national center. So in our best architecture ways, because we are computing people after all, we developed the national architecture. So in the middle, this is the original architecture of NCWIT. We had a core group of people who were doing project managers. We had hubs across the country strategically aligned with each part of the computing pipeline. Places like Irvine and Georgia Tech and Colorado and CRA and CRAW and ACM and ACMW and ABI and Colorado and Girl Scouts. Okay, so we looked real big right away and those hubs were really intended to create research and practices and give us also a head start on our knowledge base. The other thing we decided then, that we needed an alliance structure for other organizations to join in and be part of this so we invented the Academic Alliance and we also invented the Industry Alliance for corporate members. And then finally, we thought, well, we should convene social scientists who care about gender in tech so we created the Social Science Network. Last but not least, we also decided we needed a nonprofit to go along with this grant, so we created a 501[c][3]. So that’s the original architecture. This is what we look like today. I hope all of you know about alliances, right? We don’t have to spend a lot of time here. A few things you should notice, there are a few more. There’s also a name change here. The Industry Alliance, and they may say more about this, they were fighting for years over what they were supposed to do and they changed their name to Workforce Alliance to indicate that they’re working on their own technical cultures in their own organizations. So that’s why they changed their name. Social Science Network changed their name to Social Science Advisory Board. For reasons that Gerhard’s gonna tell you later. A mystery to me. [audience laughing] This is our logo chart, then. Here we are now, yay. [audience gasping and applauding] And this is our first checklist. Remember that color scheme from a long time ago, but this is what we though we needed to do to succeed. And if you take a quick look at it, it’s actually pretty spot-on. It’s still really true today. So when I looked at this, I kind of laughed, but it’s still really true. And with that, our first group of guest speakers will take the stage. Representing Hubs and Alliances. [laughing]

DEBORAH RICHARDSON: So, my name’s Deborah Richardson and I was one of the original Hub directors and a member of the Academic Alliance. And I still remember those early meetings because here we were, most of the Academic Alliance people were computer science researchers who knew there was a problem in the classroom. We didn’t have enough girls in our classrooms. But we didn’t know a whole lot about best practices or evaluating best practices or anything like that. We kind of had ideas about what would work. So we tried some of these ideas out. And one of the other things was now we were dealing with these social scientists. We didn’t speak the same language. So there was a problem there. But I still remember my very first presentation as Hub Director to the Social Science Network and I presented what we had done and I got blasted. I got treated like I know absolutely nothing at all. And I was thinking about this afterwards, they didn’t hear me say this, but I felt like, I was Dean of ICS then, I felt like an assistant professor who had just been knocked down by their entire faculty. [laughing]

GERHARD SONNERT: Hi, my name is Gerhard Sonnert. I’m a member of the Social Science Network. [audience laughing] And [laughing],


GERARD SONNERT: Yeah, but I can give you a little background. There was a lot of dissension within our little group. I came to one of those early meetings late and it was in full swing, which meant that people were at each other’s throats and we had no idea why we were there. We didn’t know what to do. And the name change came out of it eventually. But I think the saving grace for the Social Science Network was that we bonded in attacking the computer scientists. [audience laughing]

LYNN ZIELKE: And I’m Lynn Zielke, I’m with the Workforce Alliance, formerly known as Industry Alliance, and I think a lot of this dissension going on was because we were in the room the size of a breadbox [laughing]. Small room, a lot of us gathering, working on. But on a positive note, a lot what came out of that was a lot of great idea generation. We had large discussions about what we really needed to focus on. So many things we could have and trying to narrow it down. And what I remember was that it was so important what we realized in those first three years is really collaborating across all of the networks and the hubs to be successful.

LUCY SANDERS: Thank you, speakers. [audience applauding] Okay, so now we go to the next two years and this is when, at least I realized, that this is harder than I thought. [laughing] And we really needed to sit down and talk some more about how we figure this out. How do we take this national footprint and really put some more there there. So we had a meeting in Washington, D.C. I don’t know how many of you remember this, called Gearing Up For Change, and we hired an artist to draw up the things we were saying in the room. Yeah, so this is the artist’s rendering of the NCWIT Breakthrough Zone and I see a few of you down in that bottom picture, unfortunately, you probably can’t see yourself but there’s some [mumbling] versions of all of you ten years younger and you’ll see on the mural that there’s still things here again that we’re still talking about. Like computer science in the corps. And the culture of our organizations and the culture of I.T. So this, again, I think, was a fairly transformative moment in some of our thinking. It was also during these years that our gatherings started to really gear up. We started to have more people coming. We started to have better content, more prestigious events. And, in fact, it’s here and now that we started to realize that you as change [mumbling] like to come together. And share and practice and encourage and inspire each other. That was during this time. We used to have two meetings a year, but that got to be too much and we moved to one. It was also during this time that we really realized having a strategy, like all organizations need a strategy, NCWIT always had a three-prong strategy. And what was interesting about this is I pulled this out of my historical archive, look at, they’re all the same colors. [laughing] Over ten years, and you can see the language changing from being wordy and a little wishy-washy and kind of saying, “oh, we kinda sorta talk” or “broaden” or “communicate” to “we convene, we unite, we equip.” And so it’s interesting that we went from horizontal to vertical and then went vertical circles. That’s also when content creation took off. The work of the hubs was really starting to come to fruition and we started to create resources and we realized we were in big way, big time, in the resource creation and distribution business as part of NCWIT. And also, right about this time, the post-secondary, the Academic Alliance, notice it’s the only group that didn’t change its name. They really took off during this time period and for good reason. Of course, the post-secondary is very important to the pipeline. We started to see funders come into this space, NSF-funded extension services and Microsoft Research started to fund the C-Fund and I put a few other from today. In terms of AT&T with research mentoring and also Symantek with the seed funds, so really the interest in the academic space took off first from a financial perspective. And with that, we have two guest speakers representing these years and I think they’re gonna cause some trouble, but I can’t tell. [audience laughing]

MAUREEN BIGGERS: No trouble, no trouble. So, I’m Maureen Biggers and I’m from Indiana University and was co-chair of the AA for about, almost five years.

ANDREA LAWRENCE: And I’m Andrea Lawrence. I’m from Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia and I’ve been coming to these meetings since before the NSF grant. [audience laughing]

MAUREEN BIGGERS: So she’s an at one. So, Andrea, I remember my first meeting that I came to and we were in one classroom. Everybody fit and there were empty seats in the class and I think we had about a hundred members and now we have over 900 members. It’s just amazing to me.

ANDREA LAWRENCE: It’s hard to believe. Nobody knew what Academic Alliance was. When I told my daughters I was going to an AA meeting, [audience laughing] they looked concerned [laughing]. They said, “Mom, are you keeping a secret?” [laughing] But now we know what it is, we all know

MAUREEN BIGGERS: That’s right.

ANDREA LAWRENCE: what it is.

MAUREEN BIGGERS: Yeah, there were a few jokes about that at the beginning, but no more, no more, everybody knows. So things have changed so much, I remember the day that Lucy said, “We want to grow the Academic Alliance, let’s do it.” And so we got together with the team and changed the organization, reorganized, built a network, put planning committees together with engaged committees for creating resources and things in a box so we can use and started going to different conferences to have meetups, to do recruiting, and it’s just been working really well.

ANDREA LAWRENCE: It’s great, and not only have we gone up to 900 academic members, but the diversity has grown. We now have community colleges, which we did not have. We have I.T. schools. We have more minority-serving institutions. There were only five or six back when you were first co-chair and now I think we have close to 50. So it’s great.

MAUREEN BIGGERS: Yeah, it’s really great. And all those resources we have, it’s just amazing. We had probably one page on the website with them before and now we’ve got so many, we have to have a searchable data base for it. And my favorite part is listening to what people are trying and doing and the seed fund winners and what their projects are and hearing about their outcomes, and I think it’s really amazing. And one more thing, Lucy has been amazing at hiring the right people all along the way. And Kim Kalahar was part of all of this growth. It’s very amazing, yeah.

ANDREA LAWRENCE: That’s true, that’s true. [audience applauding] So, will all of this, I really find myself using these resources more and more. It’s hard to remember when we first struggle with the concept of something in a box. Something in a box, we didn’t know what that was, but now we have all kinds of thing. And this growth has been so exciting, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

MAUREEN BIGGERS: Me too. [audience applauding]

LUCY SANDERS: Alright, the next two years, I think we started to really come into focus in K-12. You know, that in fact, we as EdNCWIT had this, it’s obvious now, right, but it didn’t seem obvious then, we had this revelation that we should be encouraging high school girls who were studying computing to persist. And there were young women in high school studying computing and yes, there are some schools that offer computer science. And yet we weren’t doing anything to keep those young women engaged and have them move into post-secondary studies. So this is when we invented Aspirations in Computing. And we don’t have time to go through it all, but it’s really turned into a full talent pipeline development program for the nation based on all of your hard work really supporting thousands of young women. You can see the growth chart here from ten young women in 2007 encouraged through recognition, 1400 this year. [audience applauding] And it’s based on everything you’re doing, it’s great, it’s absolutely great, and favorite picture from this year’s ceremonies, Minneapolis, every young woman got her picture on a Wheaties box. [audience applauding] I know, like aren’t you jealous? Like I really want a Wheaties box. We also started to work with other key players in the K-12 education community, CSTA had been up and running for awhile but we started to under ACM’s leadership and others, started to come together as a community to work in a focused way along with NSF on computer science K-12 education. And NCWIT played a role in that. We also helped launch computer science education week and just a lot of push around making sure that finally, computer science is going to count. In high schools, we’re going to get rigorous, relevant, inclusive computer science education into every high school and it’s gonna count. And so this is where we really started to take off in this space as a community and I think looking back on these years, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of for all of us, that we were able to come together and really start something here and even though the road is long and hard, we sort of have a plan and we’re moving. So yay, us. It’s great. [audience applauding] And with that, run run run. [laughing] Thank you.

JOHN WHITE: Thanks, Lucy, I’m John White, CEO of ACM and looking back at this ten-year history of NCWIT reminds me of how ACM actually got involved. It was pretty interesting. In 2004, the president of ACM was Maria Klawe and the secretary-treasurer was Telle Whitney and it was like, why isn’t ACM part of NCWIT? What’s going on? So we became a hub, except we had nothing to do. And Lucy kept pushing, “What are you going to do?” And this whole thing about K-12, ACM should help create the K-12 alliance. And we had just spun up CSTA, the Computer Science Teacher’s Association, so I went to Chris Stevenson and said, “Well, you should do it because you’re the teacher’s association for computer science.” And they were just getting started and Chris was smart enough to say, “I will help but we’re just not gonna delegate it to us.” And what you were just saying is really important. The groups that came together to look at what should we be doing in K-12 was a diverse group. There were organizations like ACM and CSTA that were sort of focused on formal education but organizations like the Girl Scouts of America, Girlsinc, and many others are more focused on the informal education. And the reach of the organizations that were there was just incredible. I mean, they actually reached half the girls in the United States, so something could actually get done if we could get a plan put together. And I think one of the cool things was, we were all worried about, where’s some real computer science in K-12 and what do we do about it? And it was something that the Alliance could take on as well because having a gap in the pipeline made no sense. And we had research data that showed if you, if girls were interested in technology in middle school and there was nothing really going on in high school, that interest would fade away very quickly. And so, the partners that made up the K-12 Alliance really had a shared vision and each individual group brought something really important to what is going on with the K-12 Alliance today, which is really rather amazing. So, it’s been fun. [audience applauding]

LUCY SANDERS: I think every time I see John, I ask him, what’s he doing? [laughing] [mumbling] doing nothing. Not. [audience laughing] Okay, next two years we started thinking like, whoa, you know, all of our members want to really do things like aspirations. They want us to think about infrastructure and other ways that they can get involved and if we can put the national tool kits and infrastructure together and let our members take them and love them and put creativity in them at the local level that we can have national efforts pretty quickly. And so we started Sit With Me. You can go learn more about Sit With Me at sitwithme.org but this again is a tool kit, a micro site, you can take it, we’ve had amazing results with Sit With Me from our members. I want to tell a story about do you recognize Meryl Streep down there? Maybe you do. Next to the airline chair. So, Meryl Streep visited Indiana just a few weeks ago and Maureen Biggers Rice goes, “Oh, the president’s wife is taking a red chair down the hall and Meryl Streep is sitting in it.” [audience gasping] I know, and she was dressed perfectly for it. It was just amazing. By the way, if you want a bigger copy of that picture, well, we got it for you. And then we started Pacesetters, which is a cohort program where universities and companies work together. They set quantifiable goals. They have executive engagement and they also sort of serve as an incubator for innovative ideas. And so those were two things that happened during this time period and our next visitor will talk about this time period.

CHARLIE MCDOWELL: That is bright. Hi, I’m Charlie McDowell. I’m from U.C. Santa Cruz and I was asked to talk about what it was like to be in the first Pacesetters in one minute. I think my first summit was in 2009 in Palo Alto. It’s not far from Santa Cruz. I just thought I’d go and see what was happening. I really had no idea what I was getting into. It was great. I heard about this cool program called Aspirations in Computing and I said, “We really have to do that.” I met some great folks from the Workforce Alliance, from Apple and from Intel and from Google. We got that thing rolling. Somewhere right around that time there was this Pacesetters thing and they said, “You should apply.” And the next thing I know, I was a Pacesetter and it’s kind of all a blur after that. [audience laughing] I kinda got caught up in the infectious enthusiasm of NCWIT and the Aspirations in Computing and the Pacesetters and I was just delighted to play just even a small part of creating the Sit With Me campaign. It was a lot of fun, thanks.

LUCY SANDERS: And he has his pin on, he has his pin on. [audience applauding] Okay. Alright, so the last couple of years I really exhaled a little bit because it sort of seems like our approach can scale. I thought, whoa, maybe we actually will have a national center. Maybe we have one, you know, it’s scaling, we have programs, we have an approach, we have franchise models, we know how organic growth is working for us. And it feels like it’s scaling. And our three-prong strategy, notice now, each circle now has one word. I’m proud of that. [laughing] Convene, Equip, and Unite, I love it. It’s like so succinct and we know what we are. We’re an organization of organizations, [mumbling] organizations, out of the bleachers, onto the field, really working together. NCWIT convenes, we equip you all as change leaders and we unite you all in common action platforms. And so I think, okay, we’re hitting our stride. After ten years, we’ve got this. We should be able to really now add to this and have progress ever so much faster. You can see some of our metics. For the sake of time, we’re not gonna drill down on them, but our external evaluator, you know, we have great community growth, 809 presentation or publications from this membership over the last year on women in computing. That’s awesome, that’s awesome. [audience applauding] This is the Aspirations growth. And again you can see great numbers. All 50 states, 71% of participants are persisting when they go to post-secondary. Undergraduate success, our Academic Alliance, 62% are showing increased percentages of women enrolled in their program. That’s a great outcome as well. So with that, I’d like our last guest speaker, and then I’m going to do an acknowledgement of a very special person in our audience. So I’m year nine through 10. That makes me the newb. [audience laughing] My name is, I was about to tell them, my name is Gigi Geoffrion and I’m the V.P. of Quality and Security Engineering at Rackspace in San Antonio, Texas. Our employees are known as rackers and I think that’s Lucy’s new favorite word, isn’t it Lucy? She likes to call us all rackers, we have some rackers down here. So I’m also fortunate enough to lead up our POWER organization with stands for Professional Organization of Women Empowered to Rackspace. We started it a couple of years ago and we thought, why don’t we invite somebody from NCWIT to come out and talk to us about the resources that they have to offer. And who did they send out? But the woman herself. She sat with our POWER board and was just inspiring and amazing and walked us through a lot of the things that we’re using today, including our mentoring toolkits, our Lunch and Learns, and things like that. Couple weeks ago, NCWIT helped us to put on the very first San Antonio Aspirations Awards, which we hosted with the San Antonio Women in Tech and Texas A&M and if Barbara Hewitt is here, I’d like to thank her. She was a big part of that. We’re part of the Workforce Alliance and we’re really happy to be part of NCWIT, thank you. [audience applauding] So the last ten years would not have been the same without Chris Stevenson, where is Chris Stevenson? Where is she? I can’t, will you stand up, I can’t see you. There she is, yay. [audience applauding] Chris is moving on this week from her job leading CSTA going to work for Google and we wanted to publicly acknowledge her hard work as a change leader over the last ten years and we look forward to all the change she’s gonna cause from Google. So get ’em, Chris. [audience applauding] Thank you. I just want to close with a couple thoughts and it’s not a major announcement but just some thinking. I really reflect on this work that this group is doing as changing the world. The reason why I say that is that when women are designing, creating, and inventing the technology upon which the world depends, the world will be changed. Right? It’s a very simple statement but the world will be a different place. The world will be changed. And I think there’s nothing more satisfying than thinking that all the hard work you’re doing is changing the world. Because it is. And it will change it even more and in fact, I guess the message I want to leave you with is this. What if we could change the world faster? [audience laughing] I know, I know. But, how could we have such a wonderful national infrastructure that’s not even fake any more, that’s real and big and programs and everything else and then not accelerate? And that’s what we want to do and so here are some of the things we’re playing with right now. And it started from this conversation about what would happen if we doubled the number of four-year degree recipients in the next ten years, female four-year computing degree recipients in the next ten years? What would that look like? So we played around with some math and please don’t check it because it’s not, you know, but. [audience laughing] We assumed and Ed and Eric are gonna tell us more about enrollment caps later. We kept enrollment caps steady so we weren’t cheating and we started to think about doubling a number and what would that look like and don’t get too bogged down in the math like I said, but you know, it’d be a cumulative about 165,000 women additionally into the work force if we sort of kept the math right and didn’t cheat and assume that enrollments were gonna double, therefore our numbers would double. But the more exciting thing, I think, is if you look at that circle, that 34% in 2024, that’s a tipping point for us. If we can reach that, if we can graduate that many more women, right, the research would tell us that we have a chance of gender not being such a big issue any more. So that’s a pretty exciting number. So we’re thinking about a goal around reaching a tipping point in terms of the number of female four-year degree recipients in the next ten years. Of course, you all have to do it [laughing]. [audience laughing] But we’re here to help, okay? But you can start to see how some of these programs line up. Extension Services, Google has thrown more support along with NSF into Extension Services. The Academic Alliance is rocking and rolling. We have Pacesetters, the Workforce, Entrepreneurial Alliance, Affinity Group Alliance. We’ve got some real work to do in the corporate space around culture and also in terms of resourcing Aspirations. K-12 Alliance, a great dissemination voice for us in working in the educational space. And then Aspirations, of course, which brings the whole pipeline together in a nice longitudinal and encouraging way. So, all supported, of course, by the best social science evidence, research, and facts that we can get our hands on because when we step out, we don’t do it on whim or one person’s story. We do it based on fact. So with that I say, happy birthday to NCWIT. [audience applauding]

Scroll to Top