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OCWIC in the News -
  • ACM Membernet
  • Hiram Harbinger [before (4/11/05) | after (5/2/05)]
  • Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Here's the story -

    Something weird happened at the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing (OCWIC) conference last weekend (Apr 22-23, 2005). There was a gathering of computer scientists, and men were the minority. In fact, there were over 100 women and only three men. In a field where women usually constitute less than 20%, this was a highly unusual situation, but much appreciated by the attendees of OCWIC.

    OCWIC is a small regional conference modeled after the international Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing. The conference was held at the lovely and secluded Deer Creek Resort in Mt Sterling, Ohio. Attendees ranged from freshmen to grad students, from faculty to women working in IT jobs in industry. There were thirteen colleges and universities from Ohio and Michigan represented. All had assembled to attend career panels, technical paper presentations, to view research posters and to form personal and professional networks. The OCWIC program offered interesting options for all.

    There were parallel career panels focusing on either industry or academic careers. In the industry career panel, the audience was able to hear from professionals from companies like IBM and Microsoft. Academic career panelists spoke about their experiences at all levels of research - from grad student to full professor. One student attendee remarked that she liked the career panels best. "They gave me an insight in other people's careers and encouraged me to continue to build my own"

    Undergraduate students had the opportunity to showcase their research with a poster session that kicked off the conference on Friday evening. The professionally executed posters showed everything from a model of a tsunami wave to how to write computer games for girls.

    Technical paper presentations were made by faculty and graduate students alike. The diversity of the topics illustrated the breadth and scope of opportunities in computing. There were presentations on research into the effects of microgravity on cardiovascular systems, advances in human-computer interaction and applications to improve web searches.

    Throughout the two day conference, the women had many opportunities for informal socializing and networking. Besides the informal meal arrangements with seating at large tables, there were Bird-of-a-Feather meetings that ran late into the evening. Gouri Akundy, an Ohio State University student noted, I met all these beautiful, smart women in computing from various universities across Ohio. There was so much determination, self confidence and a will to succeed within each and every one of them; it was an awe inspiring occasion.

    The highlight of the conference was the keynote speech by Janis Mitchell, president of Precise Resource, Inc., and former president of Info-Fortress, Inc. Ms. Mitchell's accomplishments include being named Small Business Person of the Year 2003 by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and being selected as one of Columbus's Most Remarkable Women in 2004 by Business First magazine. Ms. Mitchell described overcoming daunting obstacles on her path to success as a women entrepreneur in the IT field. As a single mother of limited means, and handicapped by dyslexia and ADD, Ms. Mitchell set out to start her own IT security business. Without loans or external capitalization, she bootstrapped Info-Fortress into a successful enterprise that she later sold for millions of dollars. It was an inspiring and unforgettable account.

    The OCWIC conference represented a rare opportunity for women in computing to interact and share experiences in a collegial and non-competitive environment. As one attendee remarked, "Just to experience so many women in computing in one place at once without being overshadowed by men was amazing."

    Registration is now closed -  See all the registered attendees!

    OCWIC gratefully acknowledges the generous contributions of our sponsors: