Celebrating Women in Computing

 

On Sunday, April 15, female students, faculty, and speakers came together to network, share their experiences, and learn about the tech industry at the Celebration of Women in Computing in Southern California (CWIC-SoCal) Conference held at the University of California Irvine. Organizers from UC Irvine’s Women in Computer Science (WICS) had spent months planning the logistics for this wonderful event.

Throughout the conference, guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds, including public interest technology, software engineering, digital media, technical consulting, cyber security, education, artificial intelligence, and product management (to name a few), came to share their own experiences and journey in the tech industry. They discussed issues that students commonly face as they start out. Whether or not these students choose to pursue a career in computer science, they encouraged young women to create supportive environments where they build each other up.

One speaker that described the importance of championing each other was Vivian Graubard, the Director of Strategy and Public Interest Technology at New America. Graubard was one of the founding members of the United States Digital Service when she had worked at the White House under President Obama. As she described it, her career path was not a linear path, but rather a winding route of internships in different industries. However, a contributing factor to her success were the people who championed her along the way and gave her the opportunity to show up and contribute to important projects. She emphasized the importance of support for one another in any industry.

Another topic discussed was a concept known as “imposter syndrome”. Imposter syndrome is the concept that underrepresented groups feel as if they do not belong in a certain industry or field. As a result, they doubt their own abilities to succeed in the practice, fearing others would think they are “imposters” or “frauds”. During the conference, panelists consisting of women working in a variety of technology-related positions discussed their own experiences with imposter syndrome and how people (men and women) who feel this way should know that it’s okay to not know everything. Learning is a process that takes time and initiative, and it’s okay to not have all the answers all the time. This should not prevent people from taking on new challenges, but rather encourage them to figure out and find the answer.

As a volunteer and attendee, I was very impressed with the entire conference and the amount of work that went into planning the event. With a variety of workshops and a career expo, attendees had many opportunities to learn how to become stronger candidates in the job market. As always, WICS provided the best catering, including 85 C bakery bread, coffee, and Stonefire Grill. Although the brilliant young women I met each had their own goals and aspirations in various fields of tech, they shared a common desire to create a supportive and inclusive community.