Technology has become a necessity in this day and age. Not only is it a representation of modernity and the advancement of society, but it also forms a window to a world that was previously denied to women.
Careers related to technology (including computing) have remained predominantly male and it has been difficult for women to make their presence felt in these fields. Women have had to look outside their work environment for emotional support and resources. They started to set up organizations to pool resources and provide the necessary support and refuge in an attempt to attain a kin of independence and fulfillment. It proved to be a great success and soon the world saw the mushrooming of organizations set up for the sole purpose of promoting women in this field. This was also supported by the onset of the growing importance of equality between the genders.
ACM-Women is a subset of the ACM committee dedicated to women in computing.
ACM is an educational and scientific community set up to use the collective knowledge of professionals, educators and researchers of the computing community to further advance the field through the shared use of resources, and to address the challenges that have been posed. ACM achieves this by organizing conferences, public awareness and educational programs and through its’ publications and special interest groups.
ACM-Women is dedicated to enhancing the working and learning environments of women in computing. This includes the promotion of activities to ensure the equal representation of women in computing as mentors or role models, monitoring the status of women in industrial and academic computing and providing historical information about women and their achievements in the field of computing. The organization also serves as a repository for important documents, programs and other policies that are relevant to women in the field.
ACM-Women connects women all around the world and has representatives from India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and even Pakistan. These ambassadors keep the organization informed about programs, conferences organized in their respective countries and about the people that work towards promoting women in the industry in each country.
ACM-Women also has student representatives to ensure that it covers issues in computing from various perspectives. Student chapters have been established in different high schools and universities to further the cause. The organization offers internships to student candidates who get to work on the groups’ different websites for one semester at a time.
Another pet project of ACM-Women was the establishment of the ADA project – named in honor of the very famous Ada Lovelace. Under the leadership of Ellen Spertus, one of the members of the working committee of ACM-Women and an assistant professor at Mills College, this serves as an online repository of information and resources related to women in computing. It contains pertinent information that would be useful to women in computing.
Expanding Your Horizons Network
Established in 1974, this former Math/Science network started out as an informal gathering of women scientists and educators in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s purpose was to discuss the low enrolment of women in Math courses. To counter this, they arranged to work together to increase enrolment in their own courses. Today, the Network is a non-profit membership organization comprising of educators, scientists, mathematicians, parents, community leaders, and government and corporate representatives committed to encouraging young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
The aims of the Network are simple:
To encourage middle and high school girls to pursue math and science subjects by showing them the importance of science and technology in their lives and the benefits of pursuing a scientific or technical education.
To make science and math more enjoyable by providing fun experiences and hands-on sessions.
To collaborate young minds with those of established role models who are established in science and math careers.
To increase the awareness of young girls and their families about the different career opportunities which are available in science and technology
The Network organizes educational conferences in the United States and even held one in Malaysia in the year 2006-2007. It organized 81 conferences in that year alone. Together with corporate sponsors like Seagate Technology and Google, the organization has managed to help several young women (as many as 1,200 a year) attend these conferences and utilize the knowledge for their benefit.
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
"We are women technologists. We use technology to connect our communities. We create technology because it is who we are - intelligent, creative and driven...Together, through the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, we are inventing a better future. Working with men that believe in our mission, we are changing the world for women and technology."
Formerly known as the Institute for Women and Technology, and renamed in tribute to its founder, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology endeavors to include women in all aspects of technology through programs,, partnerships and other initiatives.By providing a platform for women to voice their ideas to ensure higher levels of technical innovation, the institute helps to increase the positive impact of technology on women.
The institute has helped women to do so by offering workshops, publications and information directed at developing leadership skills among them and by promoting the recruitment and retention of women in technical jobs. Members are kept updated through downloadable podcasts, blogs, news feeds, e-newsletters and You Tube videos.
The Institute recognizes excellence and awards them through different awards: The Anita Borg Award for Social Impact and Technical Leadership is an award given to women leaders who help to change the world for women and technology; The Denice Donton Award pays tribute to leaders (men and women) who have affected a positive change in the lives of women through technology; The Anita Borg Change Agents Award honors technical women who reside outside the United States and have implemented change in their respective societies. The Women of Vision awards are presented to women who have made significant contributions in three areas – Innovation, Leadership and Social Impact.
The Anita Borg Institute also has several other initiatives to fulfill their objectives and goals. TechLeaders brings together elite networks of women from industry, academia and government. Through annual gatherings and workshops, women explore the future of technology and develop leadership skills, networks and gather resources to help them in their careers. The curriculum of the workshops lays emphasis on research on the barriers faced by women in technology. Systers is an online emailing community that was set up by Dr Anita Borg in 1987. The main objective was to endorse women in computing and provide a conducive working environment for women with technical jobs by providing them a “private space” to discuss similar challenges and seek advice from their peers. Today the community has over 2700 members in at least 54 countries worldwide.
Grace-Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
The Grace-Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences that are held annually to bring to the forefront, the achievements of women in technology, and enhance the research and career interests of women in the field. Initiated by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994, this is one of the leading technological conferences for women in computing. Speakers in these conferences are leaders from industrial professions, government officials and academia members. Every year, the conferences are based on different themes, highlighting different aspects of women in computing. The event is a place for junior members to learn about new technologies, build networks and advance their careers in both industry and academia.
LinuxChix (founded in 1999) is a community that was set up by women who love the use of the Linux OS and wanted to help other women using Linux. They also aspire to promote women in computing. The community comprises free software users and developers from all over the world. The founder Deb Richardson wanted to provide a mutually supportive environment for new users to ask their questions without being brow-beaten by experienced users.
The community has chapters set up all over the world to pool the intellectual resources of its members.
The community organizes courses and unconferences (conferences where the content of the sessions is created and managed by participants on a day to day basis so that participants can interact in an open environment) to promote different aspects of computing.
The community has continued to spread its influence with a chapter set up in New Zealand in 2007. Mary Gardiner was appointed international coordinator of LinuxChix in April 2007. She is a PhD candidate in the department of Computing at University of Macquarie (Australia) and has focused her efforts on forming closer ties between regional chapters to enhance the impact of LinuxChix.