CEWiT Celebrates Its Third Anniversary

By Sarah Hunker

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT) was launched in October 2013. To celebrate its third anniversary, we interviewed CEWiT’s three of the four founders about their visions for the organization and what they think it has accomplished so far.

“There is a real need to attract and retain women in technology-intensive fields.” This is how one of the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT) founders, Anne Massey, Associate Vice President for University Academic Planning and Policy; Professor, Information Systems at Kelley School of Business, decided that CEWiT needed to be a hub for women all over campus to get involved in technology.

“I wanted to be involved in starting CEWiT in order to help create opportunities and make women in technology more visible to each other,” Massey said.

There are three other founders of CEWiT, Laurie McRobbie, IU’s First Lady, Maureen Biggers, CEWiT Director, and Beth Plale, Professor of Informatics & Computing and Director of the Data to Insight Center.

Now that CEWiT is coming up on its third anniversary, it continues to work with individuals all over IU’s campus to bring more awareness to women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. CEWiT targets students through initiatives such as Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Research for Undergraduate Women, and their newest student ambassador program. CEWiT also strives to get students in touch with each other and other STEM-related organizations and fields to prepare for their futures.

“CEWiT helps make connections happen – connecting women in technology and building a network of colleagues and friends,” Massey said.
As technology is ever changing, so are a multitude of work fields as well. Some women may think that their major doesn’t pertain to any type of technology, but technology is more prevalent than individuals may think.

“Every field is being transformed in some way by technology,” said McRobbie. She said that CEWiT has exceeded almost every one of her expectations in its four years on campus.

“What I didn’t expect is how powerful the community has been when it has come to uniting women on campus,” McRobbie said.

CEWiT also targets faculty with programs like the CEWiT Salons, CEWiT Advancement Circles, CEWiT Conversations and workshops. Workshops range from web scraping to beginning coding to 3D printing and can be open to individuals who have little to no experience in that topic. CEWiT has a mission to help faculty recognize their full potential with technology in their desired field.

"This one of a kind Center is a unique opportunity for IU to respond to a national call to increase women's meaningful participation in technology and computing," Biggers said. "Because technology is a catalyst to excellence in every field today, the creation of CEWiT serves to increase awareness, encourage skill development, empower women with knowledge, promote and advance them in arenas where they are needed, and ultimately help launch them into career success."

When it comes to the impact that CEWiT has on women, the four founders have hopes for where the Center can go from here; especially after all that it has accomplished in just three years. Biggers said that CEWiT has about 4000 affiliates since its start in 2013 and hopes to see growth within those individuals who have joined.

"My hope is that each person measurably benefits over time from this affiliation and network in ways that help them advance in life personally and professionally."

In celebration of its third anniversary, CEWiT is hosting many events during the month of October. The #Techtober hashtag will be used on social media whenever these events are shared. We invite all others to join in on posting about #Techtober on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.