Did you know the percent of undergraduate degrees in computer science held by women is less than 20% even though women hold 60% of undergraduate degrees? Similar numbers appear in the workforce. This is a fact that struck home with Kirsten Signar, a software developer at e2b teknologies who recently spoke at the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing (OCWIC), a conference designed to encourage and empower women pursuing computer science and other STEM fields.
“I gave a talk about confidence and accomplishing goals despite ours and other people’s misconceptions about women in computing and our insecurities,” said Kirsten. “Ultimately, it was about ways in which we can most effectively work with our male coworkers and classmates professionally in order to get things done. We all discovered that most of us have faced the same hardships in classrooms or workplaces due to our gender, which is a useful realization in overcoming them and closing the gender gap.”
Kirsten first got involved with the OCWIC group through a CS professor at Hiram, “The focus of the conference is around building confidence and learning how to handle issues that many women face in these fields and encouraging participation in the sciences. It’s a lot of fun and a great networking opportunity.” When asked about her choice to be a part of this group, Kirsten explained:
“OCWIC helps people achieve a certain introspective conscientiousness about one’s capabilities, which is why I like it. It helps people realize what they are really capable of and brings out that courage and confidence necessary to achieve great things. It is exciting to see advancements being made in big areas like data mining and artificial intelligence, new businesses rising from technology, and just how much women contribute to and lead these advancements. It generates a lot of excitement about the world of computing, and it raises enthusiasm about developing new ideas in technology and in becoming capable leaders in these advancements.”
The OCWIC conference brings together women from colleges and universities throughout Ohio to learn from thought-leaders including professors, doctorate students or graduates, industry professionals, CEOs of tech-businesses, and researchers – all of whom are women and experts in their fields to talk and share their experiences and their work. Some common themes of discussion include:
- Pursuing research or job opportunities
- Advice on balancing working with studying
- Identifying leadership qualities
- Dealing with being a minority in computer science fields
- How to identify and handle sexist attitudes in our environments.
Attendees also get to present their own research and participate in workshops, resume-review sessions, and job/grad-school fairs. Learn more about OCWIC here.
“Thought leadership and being a part of the real conversation, not just selling software, is something important to all of us at e2b,” said Lynne Henslee, President of e2b teknologies. “We are very proud of Kirsten for her investment in this group and participation in discussions like this that really make a difference; not only in the lives of women in technology, but in our industry as a whole.”