Boulder hosts first Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing conference
Colorado’s computer engineers are promoting the involvement of women in their male-dominated industry.
The antique furniture and mahogany woodwork of the Hotel Boulderado played host to the modern world of some of Colorado’s computer engineers at the First Annual Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing on April 4 and 5.
The conference attracted nearly 90 students and over 60 representatives from industry, government labs and non-profit organizations from Colorado and surrounding states.
Featuring keynote speeches, a synopsis of papers from PhD students, and a career fair, the conference was held to draw attention to the dwindling field of women in computer science, as well as to provide network opportunities for participants.
“In terms of computer science, not only is there an imbalance (between men and women), but the numbers of women in computer sciences in terms of percentages are going down,” said Kate Starbird, a PhD student in Computer Science at CU.
Along with raising awareness, the conference hopes to promote ever-important interactions between professionals in the field.
“Collaboration is huge,” Starbird added.
Collaboration was certainly a key to the event’s success, as it featured sponsorship from CU, Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University.
The event also featured speakers and participants from such schools as New Mexico State University and Fort Hays State University.
The conference also provided the chance for PhD candidates, who made up a large portion of the event’s turnout, to present thesis papers before turning them in for their degree.
“This is actually really good as far as bringing women into it and having women speakers, and young women that are getting their doctorates,” said Cheryl Hebdon, a program manager.
The Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing is based on the successful and time-tested Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and many of this year’s attendants also made appearances at this and other conferences.
This week’s conference distinguished itself as being smaller and more personal than others, a quality that many attendants appreciated.
“It seems a lot more intimate,” said Huda Kahn, a Computer Science and Cognitive Science doctoral candidate at CU.
“It’s not as big a conference, probably yet because it’s the first year,” she added. “That kind of level of informality provides a better way to talk to people in the industry. We feel more comfortable. And it’s just a pretty friendly atmosphere overall.”
A large career fair was featured towards the end of the conference, with such companies as Google, Bell Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, and HP setting up booths to provide information and networking opportunities for participants.
Deanna Kosaraju, a member of the Anita Borg Institute, sees this year’s Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing as a smaller version of the Grace Hopper event that will be held in October.
In the meantime, Kosaraju said she is excited about the event at hand. “It’s wonderful getting the community together to network,” she said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Spencer Everett at firstname.lastname@example.org