NPR’s Moira Gunn to kick off launch party for Center of Excellence for Women in Technology

By Anna Viterisi

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

IU’s new Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT) celebrates its official launch on October 28 beginning at 3 p.m. with a talk at the IU Auditorium by Dr. Moira Gunn, host of National Public Radio’s Tech Nation. Her lecture, “Life Choices in a Digitally Connected World,” will focus on the role of digital technology and networking in shaping future careers. A launch party in the IU Auditorium lobby will follow the talk and feature hands-on tech demonstrations including “lovable robots,” e-textiles and Google Glass.

On Tech Nation and its regular segment Bio Tech Nation, Gunn has conducted more than 2,000 interviews with politicians, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators ranging from technophobes to futurists. The first woman to receive a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, Gunn also holds advanced degrees in computer science and a software technical patent.

The CEWiT launch talk is also included as part of the College of Arts and Sciences' Themester lecture series, “Connectedness: Networks in a Complex World,” which focuses on the role of connection as a force in people's lives as unique individuals, citizens and members of a global community.  

“It’s not about taking away agency from an individual, but focusing on the connections that enrich our lives and provide a support basis,” said Bernice Pescosolido, chair of the Themester committee. “All our interests start at a common place, and then disperse towards certain areas of study. CEWiT provides a platform for women’s interests to rejoin at a common place.”

Aligning with the Themester theme, CEWiT addresses the national need to increase women’s participation in computing and technology fields through an interdisciplinary approach. Students, faculty and staff members have each formed alliances within CEWiT to recruit, retain, network, collaborate and promote the success of IU women in technology.   

“With respect to students, we want to shine a light on the gender gap in computing and technology related- fields and the significant opportunity this presents to women,” said Maureen Biggers, CEWiT interim director. “The more we raise awareness and empower women across all disciplines to make a difference, be creative and solve problems in teams using computing technology, the better we can respond to the national call to grow the number of new women in this growing field, and the better the job opportunities will present themselves to our students.”

CEWiT is the first university-based center to create a collaborative program to promote women in technology that does not originate in any single school but instead bridges disciplines.

“CEWiT is accomplishing something that no other university has achieved before,” said Laurie Burns McRobbie, IU’s first lady and chair of the CEWiT advisory council. “We’re trying to connect women, from diverse disciplines, who touch technology in their work, studies or daily lives, and to create visible pathways so technical occupations become a natural path for female students. CEWiT is likely to plant seeds and advance parity in all technical occupations by breaking old stereotypes and exemplifying how to recruit driven women.”

The launch event is free and open to the public. Read more about about this and other upcoming CEWiT events.

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Themester 2013