|March 8, 2001
Volume 31 Number 12
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
Seeing the Results of a Funded Project
Each day, proposals pass through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) on their way to potential funders. OSP Development Specialists read them, route them, and send them out the door. Several months later we find out whether proposals were funded, but it isn't often that we know first-hand the results of a project, especially as it impacts students on the campus. Recently, however, I made it a point to find out about a project I was especially interested in.
In April 2000, Renee Renner and Jim Pinkert of the Department of Computer Science submitted a proposal to Hewlett-Packard for computers to be used in a "Women in Computer Science and Engineering" (WISE) laboratory on campus. While it would not be restricted to women, the lab was designed to address some issues surrounding recruitment and retention of women in technology fields.
The proposal was funded. When the computers arrived, they were set up by the Network for Women in Technology (NeWT), 10 women who will administer the lab. I talked with NeWT president Gina Lenzi about the impact this lab has had on women in computer science and other technological fields on campus.
Lenzi calls the lab "a doorway to the degree" for women who don't come to their majors with extensive experience in computers. Other labs can seem large and intimidating to anyone entering a nontraditional field. The WISE lab allows small groups of students to build their skills in asking questions and networking with others in their majors. This can be key to survival in fields that have not always welcomed women, said Lenzi. She often sees women she's met in the lab in her mostly male classes and finds the lab connection makes the class more comfortable. Informal mentoring takes place in the lab, between those who have already made it through tough "weeder" classes and those who are just starting them, and between those who have been at the university for a while and those who are new.
Finally, the WISE lab provides a place for workshops of interest to women in technology. NeWT has the flexibility to schedule events without disrupting large lab classes and other students. At least three events are currently planned: a visit by several female employees of Accenture, who are coming to talk about their roles in the company and in technology; a series of tutoring sessions on important computer science topics; and a "Young Women's Tech Day" for junior and senior high school students.
It was especially gratifying to see the results of a project that will have such positive and far-reaching outcomes. Congratulations to everyone involved.
Diane M. Johnson, Sponsored Programs
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