My Highlights from the 2014 NCWIT Summit

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On Monday, May 19th, I had the pleasure of serving as one of 26 Ambassadors at the 2014 Summit on Women and IT, which is coordinated by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). One of NCWIT's programs is the Award for Aspirations in Computing, which provides high school girls with numerous opportunities to get involved with the IT community - being a Summit Ambassador is one of them. 

The Summit is held once a year and it gives NCWIT alliance members a chance to meet and discuss advances within NCWIT, as well as share ideas and solutions to problems they are working through themselves. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the summit, so it was really great being a part of this occasion. 

On Monday May 19th, I flew out to Newport Beach, California, just south of Los Angeles, and was greeted by an amazing view of a pool, a golf course, and the Pacific Ocean. Honestly, it almost brought me to tears. To be so blessed to see so many great things in life is truly amazing. 

Here is a brief overview of some of the highlights of the summit:

Opening Plenary: Maggie Neale - Stanford University "Negotiation for Change Leaders"

The main lesson learned I learned is ALWAYS NEGOTIATE SALARY! "If you don’t ask, who will?" When it comes to negotiating for salary raises, managers are often asked to allocate raises among equally skilled employees. When allowed to negotiate, more money is given to men because women don’t ask! I immediately reflected on my first full-time offer from a well-known aircraft manufacturing company. Two of my male counterparts also got offers and they both made counteroffers. I hadn’t even thought about a counteroffer. Never again.

Microsoft Big Dream Documentary

We were treated to a viewing of the trailer for Big Dream, a documentary film that follows seven young women in technology fields around the globe. Each story takes a look at a young woman's ambitions and how she overcomes personal challenges to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The documentary is scheduled for release in fall (northern hemisphere) 2014 to highlight their stories and I cannot wait until the full film is released.

K-12 Alliance Meeting

NCWIT consists of five alliances of organizations and a Social Science Advisory Board, each of which works to help increase the number of women in information technology. I had the chance to speak with the K-12 Alliance about my coding camp for middle school girls, INTech, along with my other peers who also host camps. While at the meeting, I learned that NCWIT has awarded over 3,300 awards to high school girls interested in computing! I was amazed and very honored to be among those awardees! 

2014 Pioneer Award Winner - Eleanor Kolchin

This year the Pinoeer Award was given to Eleanor Kolchin and it was so inspiring to hear her speak! She worked on some of technology's earliest innovations. For instance, she told us that she had an email address in 1975, but didn’t have anyone to send a message to - HA! She also told us that when she was in school, women were expected to be secretaries. She obviously ignored that as she went on to work at IBM as a Mathematician at Watson in 1967. It was also cool how she spoke about today’s top women in tech and how most of them are married with children. Her point: women can have it all! 

Michael Kimmel - Mars, Venus, or Planet Earth? Women and Men in a New Millennium

First of all, this talk was hilarious! Michael Kimmel is a phenomenal presenter. He spoke about the fact that if we’re going to engage women and get them in the pipeline, we also need to engage men. We have to address why men are entitled when we look at gender equality. 

SoCal Aspirations Awards

I was excited to be able to assist in passing out awards to the Southern California Award for Aspirations in Computing Winners and Runners-Up. Another "full circle"moment for me. It’s also great learning about how awesome all of the awardees are. They’re in high school and they have already made names for themselves in their communities by hosting tech camps, participating in tech competitions, and so much more. Apple hosted lunch for the Aspirations Ambassadors and I got to sit beside Jeffrey Siminoff, Worldwide Director of Inclusion & Diversity (that's us in the photo). We had a great conversation about Apple's new Women's affinity group and how flawless the Apple packaging is. Then Jeffrey hit us with the infamous "one more thing...." and his team handed us all iPad Minis so that we could really see how flawless the Apple packaging is. 

Andrea Jung, CEO of Grameen America & member of Apple's Board of Directors 

I was very inspired by Andrea Jung! She stated that women are going to be the driving force behind all the disruptive technology of the future, and I couldn’t agree with her more. She left us with her 3 P’s:

1. Passion: Follow your compass, not your clock.

2. Perseverance: Keep your eye on the long term. Stay the course. Don’t quit.

3. Purpose: Do good. Not just good work. It’s impossible to have a meaningful life without great work. 

Dr. Chelsea Clinton - No Ceilings 

Dr. Clinton came to speak on the last day of the Summit and she was really good! She pointed out the fact that less than 7% of the 20% of women in computing are women of color. One of my favorite quotes from her was “It’s really hard to imagine, what you can’t see. Help us close the imagination gap!"

Donna Brazile - Why diversity matters

Donna Brazile followed Chelsea Clinton to speak on diversity and she told us that the un-written rule for public speaking is to never go behind a Clinton - Ha! She did well although I had to leave because I did not want to risk missing my flight. She had plenty of quotable messages:

- "It’s not what people call you, it’s what you answer to."

- "Why you? Because there is no one better. Why now? Because tomorrow is too late!"

- "Diversity is not about removing anyone from the table, just scoot over."

All in all, this was a great 3 days! I met some awesome women and received some cool company swag. Huge shout out to Apple for the iPad Minis and Bloomberg, who gave us headphones and a bluetooth speaker and a very nice dinner.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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