Every year I spend part or all of one of the classes in my “how to be a grad student” course on talking about women in science—more specifically about women in computational fields. For the last couple of years, I’ve been fortunate to have one of the more senior female grad students lead the discussion, but she plans to finish her thesis this year, so I’ve asked her to try to spread the expertise around so that someone else could take over next year. She has put together a panel for the class consisting of herself, a female researcher in the field (and alumna of our program), a female faculty member from another department who has done published research into ways to increase female participation in computer science, and an advising staff member with yet another valuable view-point. All three of the other panel members are likely to be here for several years to come, and they could easily incorporate a grad student onto their panel, should some other grad student wish to step up in future. So this seems like a good way to create an institutional continuity even as grad students come and go.
I am looking forward to how the panel works, since we’ve not had a panel before. We also have 6 women and 7 men in the course, which is as close as we can come to gender parity with an odd number of students. That should help with the discussions (though last year went ok, despite having an all-male incoming group of grad students).
Earlier this week I came across an excellent list of resources on women in tech fields on the Slow Searching blog. I recognized a few of the articles as good ones and the rest look promising, though I’ve not had time to read them yet. Even more recently on the same blog, there was a pointer to Project Implicit at Harvard, which lets people explore their unconscious biases. I’ve not had time to follow up on Project Implicit either. Perhaps if I get the grading done this weekend I’ll have a little time left to do some reading.