Computing Profession

Final Thoughts About Grace Hopper Conference

Valerie Barr
Valerie Barr, Professor of Computer Science, Union College

My final wrap-up from Grace Hopper–some sites and information about women and technology world wide, much of it gleaned during the session “The ‘F’ Word: Feminism and Technology."  The repeated message was that we have to see technology as a means to an end, not an end itself.  If we want to build technology to help women, particularly in the developing world, we have to have the relevant context and involve women themselves in the development process.  For example, in rural Pakistan the majority of women are illiterate, so a text based Internet tool is useless.  But an audio-visual medium, like one that is currently being used to provide information about health care services, will be much more successful.  While in the developed world we seem to always think of a computer solution, usually web-based, to problems, these days the technology that will help women is most likely to involve mobile phones.  This has been demonstrated in Africa by the AIR project (Advancement through Interactive Radio) in which mobile phone technology allows women to participate in call-in programs on TV and radio, giving them a voice in community affairs which they had not previously had.

A few things to check out:
International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics
World of Good

And lastly, as a member the ACM-W Council, I would be remiss if I did not point you toward our wonderful scholarship program.  We give $500 scholarships (20 per year) for women students at all levels to attend research conferences.  All the details are on our website.  Please pass this information on to the women students in your classroom, your workplace, and in the rest of your (CS) life. 

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