Soaking Up Game

By Ayori Selassie

Ayori Selassie

Ayori Selassie

Last week I sat with a group of young girls in Amman, Jordan to have a frank and open discussion about Faith and Technology. The session started with 10 seconds of silence to allow for everyone in the room to get in touch with their spirit, inner drive, concerns, aspirations, God, beliefs or whatever was important for the individual to get in touch with. Then we started the discussion. What is Faith to you? What is Technology? Is there a relationship between the two? The dialog was personal, compelling, compassionate and supportive and was shared with women and girls of various belief systems, technical backgrounds and experience levels and social economic backgrounds. At the end of the session one girl remarked that this was “Just what I needed” because she’d been struggling with the parallel of being a gifted young woman in tech, but having family members that don’t see technology as critical, but saw God and religion as having greater importance.  When your spiritual practice drives a meaningful dialog between yourself and a higher power, whether that higher power is God, or science, or the universe, technology and innovation clearly become a means, not an end. We don’t innovate to innovate; we innovate to have a positive impact on our world, to fulfill our mission in life, to go where no man or woman has boldly gone before. In my heart and soul I know that without that connection between my spirit and God that I would not have had the courage or audacity to do the things that I have done in my life which have brought me to being the mother of an incredible and gifted young girl, to having a successful career that was borne out of integrity, hard work, drive and skill, or to having a commitment to making our world a better place by investing in people.  Leading the discussion with the girls in Jordan gave me an opportunity to re-engage my own inner drive for the creation of innovation and usage of technology – life, people and love. If I am going to share with you my successes and how I overcame challenges I have to be open with you about my motivations.
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Swimming outside your comfort zone

By Shruti Satsangi

Shruti Satsangi

Shruti Satsangi

Swim outside your comfort zone!” was the message Dee Mcrorey was sharing from the podium. It was 2010 and I was sitting at the Grace Hopper Conference, having found my way into the largest collaborative risk taking workshop ever (at the time anyway). It was such a crystallization of how my life had turned out thus far that I wanted to stand up and applaud (which I did do at the end in addition to thanking Dee for what was a fantastic workshop).

As the child of a marine engineer, my early childhood was spent on commercial shipping vessels, sailing the high seas with my parents. When we finally did settle down on land, it was never for longer than 5 years at one place. By my high school graduation, I had lived in 4 countries, 2 continents and various cities – from the most cosmopolitan to the most quaint.

What I gained almost organically through my childhood was enhanced ability embrace changing/uncomfortable situations and take advantage of them for the better.

I didn’t realize was how well this life skill would serve me in my career.
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Flocks Focus Fuel

By Sheila Isbell

Sheila Isbell

Sheila Isbell

Career building for me is about flocks, focus and fuel. Are you familiar with the saying, birds of the same feather flock together? I am a big believer in keeping a good flock. Keeping a flock of peers, mentors, and future tech leaders nearby helps with past reflection, present pacing and future goal setting.
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Never Settle

By Yolanda Davis, Senior Software Engineer at AdvancED

Yolanda Davis

Yolanda Davis

The first and last time I cried over a computer was the fall of 1996. It was towards the end of the semester during my junior year at the University of Maryland and I was a recent Computer Science convert, who had dashed away from Mechanical Engineering in search of better fortune. Even though I had a passion for computers, I didn’t even know a whole degree program existed for them. I spent much of my childhood tinkering with computers, attending computer camp, and writing countless infinite loops in BASIC that sprayed “Hi Mom” over the black and white monitor; but I had always believed that programming was simply a tool used by engineers to get their “real work” done. It wasn’t until I found myself complaining to a good friend on how miserable I was as an ME that he suggested that I try his major, Computer Science, since, in his words “You like computers right? Why don’t you try that? Plus it’s way easier than engineering”. Those words were like music to my ears and the next day I found myself apologizing to my engineering advisor and hugging my new CS advisor as I signed up for this new world in computing. My friend’s statement of “easier” was quickly proven very wrong.
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From Research to Action

By Caroline Simard, PhD

Simard Caroline

Simard Caroline


I never met Anita, but her contagious passion in making a difference for technical women made a lasting impact on me. As a staff member of the Anita Borg Institute from 2006 to 2012, I experienced an incredible journey of growth from research to action. I came to the organization as a social scientist interested in bridging theory and practice to increase gender equality.
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Showing Compassion Through Computation

By Joy Buolamwini

Joy Buolamwini

Joy Buolamwini

Being from Ghana but having lived in the US most of my life and been the beneficiary of the generosity of many organizations, I know that there are others around the globe who are just as capable as I am but have not had the same opportunities.  I’ve had many opportunities to improve my skills and connections to increase my potential impact, and want to pass some of that forward.

I believe the heart of computing is humanity and my life’s mission is to show compassion through computation by encouraging those under represented in technology fields to become full participants in the creation of the future. In the video I share my story and introduce you to the Zamrize project. I founded Zamrize to empower African youth to become creators of technology through exposure, education, and entrepreneurship.
 


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What do you want to Make?

By Karen Tanenbaum

Karen Tanenbaum

Karen Tanenbaum, Maker and Ph.D. candidate

I am a Maker. I’ve been making things all my life, but only started considering myself a “Maker” recently, as part of the burgeoning Make movement. Since I was young, I have been creating costumes, props, and jewelry. I considered this my hobby, a little side project that was vaguely embarassing but that I loved nonetheless. I spent hours..days..weeks…working to recreate costumes from tv, film and comic books in the “real world”, trying to identify all the little details of a look from screenshots and partial views. I played around with technology to create special effects, like electrolumiscent wire and sound activated power supplies.

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Make it Worth Doing!

By Laurian Vega

Laurian Vega in front of a poster-paper

Laurian Vega

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. — Theodore Roosevelt

To feel like I belong – that I am a “real” computer scientist – I have always felt the need to be the best at what I worked on. My programs would run the fastest, my GUIs would be the cleanest, and my effort the hardest. While my work always left me feeling proud, sometimes all that hard work would leave me feeling drained and low.

The time I felt the lowest was after I had my first child while working on my PhD.
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