On February 24 & 25, eight women from Denison attended a special gathering of computer scientists in Huron, Ohio. The Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing (OCWiC) conference drew nearly 300 women ranging from first year students to graduate students, from faculty to women working at jobs in industry. The focus of the conference is for attendees to connect with other female students, meet women mentors from industry and to learn about opportunities and challenges, and how support and a strong network can help overcome those challenges, whether considering a career in academia or in industry. There were 40 colleges and universities and 23 companies represented at this biennial conference.
The power of having this many women studying computing, teaching computer science, and addressing challenges in industry all in one place is transformative for the attendees. With computer science surging at Denison, the representation by women is growing as well, with great interest in attending OCWiC. Students representing Denison included Madeline Boster, ‘18 from , Hayley LeBlanc ‘20 from Portland, OR, Emma Steinman ‘20 from Westlake, OH, Lan Le ’19 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Caileigh Marshall ‘19 from Minneapolis, MN, Mary Unkovic ‘17 from Greensburg, PA, Emily Farrow ‘18 from Wayne, PA, and Lauren Robbins ‘20 from Lebanon, OH.
Emily Farrow maximized her experience and gave a lightning talk and presented a poster on her summer undergraduate research, entitled: “Data Streaming Algorithms for the Chi-Square Test.” Maddie Boster used the opportunity to prepare for the future by going to a session on job interviews, led by an actual hiring manager, and to get advice on her resume from someone in industry who knows what companies like to see. Caileigh Marshall also focused on the industry panels, and on reflection noted, “I was impressed by the broad range of industries that CS and IT can lead to, and all the nonlinear career paths the women on the panel were describing.” Mary Unkovic also notes of the industry panels, “We heard from women who had been working for decades, as well as some young women just starting out. Some of the best advice was to not be afraid to ask questions. We were encouraged to be confident in who we are, what we know, and what we are capable of.”
The two first-year Denison students attending also got a lot out of the experience. Says Hayley LeBlanc, “I think my favorite part of the conference was getting to see and hear about the research that other people have done. I want to do research someday, so it was very inspiring to see what all of these other women have done and discovered.” Emma Steinman said, “At first I wasn’t sure if I should attend the conference since I was only a freshman and hadn’t had much experience in the field. However, after attending I can say that it was a great choice. Meeting so many successful women in the field definitely encouraged me to continue with the major, and I learned of many opportunities I didn’t know existed, including job rotation programs, summer camp positions, and different positions in industry.”