Category Archives: Women in Tech

NCWIT Award for Aspiration in Computing 2012

This post is shamelessly reblogged from Alfred Thompson. Alfred is an expert in the K12 space and I highly recommended following him on Twitter (@alfredtwo) and on his blog for outstanding content! He posts lots of resources, information and discussions about technology, computer science and education. (Click here for his original post.)


Time for a reminder. Now that school has been underweight for a while you may have identified some young women who would be good candidates for the NCWIT Award for Aspiration in Computing.

What is the award?

The Aspirations Award honors young women at the high-school level for their computing related achievements and interests. Winners are recognized at an award event here in the community. All applicants will also be considered for the National award. National winners receive $500, a laptop and a trip to the March 9, 2013 awards gala.

Since 2007, NCWIT has recognized more than 1300 young women and honored more than 50 teachers with the NCWIT Educator Award. Learn more at Our Award recipients have been invited to the White House, received scholarships to top universities, and accepted internships at top tech companies such as Microsoft and Google.

Why is the award important?

By generating visibility for technical young women, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing encourages continued interest in computing, increases awareness of the gender gap in computing and IT, and emphasizes at a personal level the importance of women’s participation in computing.

What is the application process?

Please direct girls to Detailed instructions and eligibility information are found online. APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN NOW THROUGH OCTOBER 31!

What is the deadline?

Please notify girls of this opportunity right away. Online applications are open now and must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern on October 31, 2012.

Start developing your Windows 8 app today. Generation App has tons of great resources for developers. Sign up today for tips, great documentation, videos and more!

Win a Nokia Lumia 900

Come by the Microsoft booth at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for your chance to win a Nokia Lumia 900!

You can enter to win by creating your very first Windows Phone app. We have four tutorials for you to walk through to create your first app. You can do the tutorials at the Microsoft booth where we have machines set up with the tools or you can do them on your own machine and show us. Every tutorial you complete gets you an entry into the raffle. Since there are four tutorials, you can enter up to four times! (You can only win once though :))

If you want to do the tutorial on your own machine, awesome! The first step is to download the free tools here. Get the tutorials to work through from here. There are a couple of ways to show us you’ve done the tutorials:

  • Bring your machine to the Microsoft booth and show us your app! (If you do all four tutorials, you’ll end up having one app for tutorials 1-3 and one app for tutorial 4)   OR
  • Put your .xap files on a USB stick (like the USB bracelet from the Microsoft booth). A .xap file is the exeutable file for your app. You can find the .xap file by going to your project folder -> project name -> Bin -> Debug -> your .xap file. Here’s a screenshot of where I find .xap files:

If you do the tutorials on your own, come in to the booth and we’ll deploy your app on a Windows Phone so you can see what it looks like “in the wild.”

Main point: Build a phone app (from the tutorials) and enter to win a Windows Phone! Yay!!

Aspirations in Computing Video Challenge


Here’s another contest that you can vote for! Check out the videos that have been made for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Video Challenge. You can vote every day from now until April 16th. There will be winners in individual and group categories who will receive prizes.

Don’t know who to vote for? Watch The Virtual Reality Room by Allison, a local student.

Since we’re on the topic of voting, don’t forget to vote for your favorite team for the Imagine Cup People’s Choice Award!

Capital Regional Celebration of Women in Computing!!!

If you’re like me, you’re a woman in tech…or you support women in tech. Either way, you’re really excited about the Capital Regional Celebration of Women in Computing (CAPWIC)! If you’ve never heard of a Celebration of Women in Computing, let’s take a quick informational field trip:

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) is the world’s largest technical conference for women. Attending is an amazing experience, however sometimes it’s not possible for all women due to location and/or travel cost. That’s where the Regional Celebrations come in. Throughout the country there are Regional Celebrations of Women in Computing that are like GHC, but on a smaller scale. These smaller celebrations are great. They’re very welcoming, they provide tons of opportunities to participate, they perfect for forming local support networks and they cost less to get to.

So, now that you’re familiar with what I’m talking about, here’s a short story. When I was a student at DePauw University, I went to the Indiana Women in Computing Celebration. My first year I gave a Lightning Talk, I lead a Birds of a Feather table and I conducted a hands-on robot workshop. These were all opportunities for me to practice public speaking & everything that comes with it (preparation, anyone?), plus they wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t a local conference. All of my sessions were great! I got to meet so many women in the area. INWiC wound up being super beneficial for my career too! Even after I moved out of Indiana, I still went back for INWiC because I want to help make it a great experience for other women.

This brings me back to the point, CAPWIC is coming up!! I’ll be speaking and presenting at CAPWIC this year and I’m so excited to be contributing to such a great event. If you’re in the DMV area, I highly encourage you to go! With that being said, here’s the spiel, hope to see you there!

In about a week, the first Capitol Region Celebration of Women in Computing (CAPWIC) will take place in Fredericksburg, VA: April 13-14, 2012. See: for the conference website. It is not too late to register!


We encourage your participation in the conference and hope that over half of the attendees will present a short talk! It’s not too late to sign up for a Lightning Talk or 20 minute presentation and get to participate in the conference. Don’t forget, you can include the Lightning Talk presentation in your resume. Having a presentation in your resume demonstrates initiative, motivation and academic competence. Developing and giving the presentation provides you with benefits too: confidence, encouragement and an introduction to the professional world. Brainstorm ideas for proposals with your advisers and friends, occasionally two women share a Lightning Talk. More info on Lightning Talks.

Submit your proposal for a Lightning Talk today! Email the title & abstract (a few sentences to a paragraph) to or to

If you’re still wondering whether to attend, you should! We want to see you there! Here are the top 5 reasons to attend CAPWIC:

  1. Informal Dress Code. Wear your jeans and participate in some old-fashioned face-to-face communication.
  2. Food and fun! We will have snacks at breaks, nice meals and an ice cream social on Friday evening. We will play a version of Bingo that will allow you to win prizes.
  3. Other women have benefitted, why not you? Over 95% of participants at other Women in Computing conferences said that they would come back.
  4. Networking is one of the most important reasons to attend CAPWIC! There will be opportunities to meet professors, lots of students and industry professionals.
  5. We have a very exciting program. There are research talks, poster sessions, lightening talks and more. Hear pointers on how to give a presentation from a theatre professional. Learn about parallel programming from an expert. See what other students are working on. Even give your own lightning talk!


Lightning Talks are very short (5-6 minute) talks. We’ll know the exact length, after we see how many proposals come in. Here are some examples of previous Lightning Talks:

· Socialization in an Online World

· 5 Ideas in 5 Minutes for Women in CS Organizations

· Appealing to Different Learning Styles in Computer Science

· One Laptop Per Child

· Gender Differences in the use of Social Networking Sites

· Collaborative Learning Environments: Reducing Dropouts in Public Schools in Chennai, India

· Variations on Matrix Multiplication Algorithms: Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates

· Inner Peace in Outer Space: An HCId approach to habitability in a high stress environment

· Self-Healing Database Management Systems

Tennessee Women in Computing (TNWiC)

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend (and speak at) the very first Tennessee Women in Computing Regional Grace Hopper Celebration. I know that a super long name which is why everyone calls is TNWiC. Here are some stats-at-a-glance from TNWiC:

  • 180 attendees (TNWiC sold out and there was a waiting list!)
  • 19 sessions
  • 5 Lightning Talks
  • 2 talks with “awesome” in the title (mine was one!)

Day 1 started with the keynote from Dr. Lynne Parker about what robotics can learn from nature. From flight patterns to hunting principles, robotics has a long way to go and a lot to learn from wolves, birds, and bees. One of my favorite things about robotics that Dr. Parker talked about is the diversity that’s needed in the field. Not just women, I mean backgrounds; everything from math to philosophy is relevant to robotics.

Following the keynote were two rounds of sessions, one featuring a talk by Ruthe Farmer (@ruthef) of NCWIT, The Power of Encouragement, and the other featuring the panel I was a part of, Thriving in a Man’s World. Ruthe actually mentioned me in her talk! She made a quick reference about how I became a CS major (my professor wrote on my test, “Do you have a major?”). She also talked about the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. If you know any high school girls who have an interest in technology, encourage them to apply! The panel I was on discussed advice for surviving the workplace. We answered questions about being mommy-tracked (well, I didn’t answer that one) and how to dress in the workplace and everything in between.

The second day was packed full of great sessions too! There were two sessions for the Distinguished Speakers, Dr. Valentina Salapura (IBM) and Dr. Vidya Setlur (Nokia). In additions there were lightning talks (I gave one!), technical presentations and an invited speakers session. During my session, Mobile: Be Awesome. And Hot., I got to talk about some of the cool features of Windows Phone 7 and show-off two ways of creating mobile apps that require little to no coding experience. If you’re interested in creating apps and games for the phone check out AppMakr, an RSS aggregator, and ScriptTD, a customizable tower defense game engine.

Demo of ScriptTD

I always love the regional Grace Hopper conferences and TNWiC was no exception. The opportunity for meaningful local connections is so important and I’ ‘m grateful when I get to be a part of that process. I’m so proud of the organizers of TNWiC, it was a very successful first conference and I know it’s only going to get better.

NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (2011)

Alfred posted about the Award for Aspirations in Computing from NCWIT recently (if you don’t subscribe to his blog, you should). I’m so glad he did, because it’s a great reminder that the application process opens in about 3 weeks!

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women active and interested in computing and technology. We are looking for next generation of technical talent. Award winners receive cool prizes, gadgets, scholarships and all girls can join a community of fellow technically-inclined young women.

I was lucky enough to meet two award winners at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last year and they were so inspiring! This award can be really beneficial; both of them had internships lined up for the summer!

To stay up-to-date on the award, make sure to like it on Facebook. (Applications will be accepted between  9/15-10/31.)

DigiGirlz Tech Camp Charlotte

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be involved with the DigiGirlz Tech Camp in Charlotte, NC. I love it when I get the opportunity to be at a DigiGirlz event because I’m so passionate about piquing girls’ interest in technology. Over at Diverse, there’s a great article about the Charlotte camp.

In the article, Catherine Ashcraft, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), says that young girls often have preconceived ideas of what a technologist should look like, and they often feel that they don’t fit the profile. I love that I get a chance to show girls that these stereotypes are based on an archaic view of technology. So much has changed in the world of technology! You do a lot of work in teams and you’re creatively solving problems.

For this Tech Camp, I did a session on SQL. Normally SQL isn’t the first technology that would pop into your mind to teach to girls. When your SQL database is full of cute boys and it’s their job to find the perfect one for them using SQL statements, it works perfectly! Since this session was powered by Azure, I spent some time talking about the cloud and what it means for them before diving into SQL statements.

Using the Dating Game format, I was able to introduce the concept of relational databases and do some activities that showed how to query the database using different kinds of SELECT and JOIN statements. If you want to teach SQL using the Dating Game, you can! Thanks to Lynn Langit (@llangit) and Llewellyn Falco (@isidore_us), the Dating Game is available on Codeplex.

I want to extend a huge thank you to all the event organizers and volunteers! These events rely on your passion!

Want to be a DigiGirl too? Check out DigiGirlz Days and DigiGirlz Tech Camps!

Digigirlz Tech Camp: Baltimore 2011

On Friday, May 6th, the Maryland Science Center welcomed 43 high school girls for the first ever Baltimore DigiGirlz Tech Camp. DigiGirlz is a national Microsoft initiative that gives girls an opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) based careers through workshops and lectures.

The day kicked off with breakfast and a welcome from Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and led into the keynote session featuring Shireen Mitchell, founder of Digital Sisters, a non-profit that encourages girls in STEM subjects and nurtures their passion. Starting her interest in technology in an arcade in the New York projects, Shireen has a very inspiring story to share with girls everywhere.

The hands-on part of the tech camp was a team project that tied together both the Imagine Cup and Kodu Cup. Teams were asked to create a game using Kodu (a free visual programming language) that helped promote one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. To make sure this task was doable, the girls participated in the Kodu workshop to get used to the environment, work through several tutorials, and find out what Kodu can do!

After the Kodu workshop, I got the chance to speak about the 7 Life Lessons from the MangoBunnies. I loved sharing my Imagine Cup experience and the lessons that the MangoBunnies learned. Before dinner, the girls got to explore the exhibits at the Maryland Science Center. Highlights from the rest of the evening include working on their team project, an ice cream social, and getting to spend the night at the Maryland Science Center.

On Saturday, the finishing touches were put on the games and the teams got ready to present their games to the other campers, parents, and a panel of judges. All the games were fantastic. It’s amazing to think that coming into the camp these girls had no programming experience and by the end they were creating engaging games using Kodu. The winning team, Geek Girls, created a three part game that has the player complete a triathlon to win. With a foot race, swimming event, and cycling section, Geek Girls focused their game on a healthy lifestyle. Each member of Geek Girls received a Microsoft prize package and a family membership to the Maryland Science Center!

Congratulations to all of the DigiGirlz campers!

Huge thanks to the Maryland Science Center for hosting this event and to all the event organizers and volunteers! DigiGirlz events make a big impact and we couldn’t do it without you!

Want to be a DigiGirl too? Check out DigiGirlz Days and DigiGirlz Tech Camps!