This is a guest post by Gail Carmichael. Gail is a PhD student in computer science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is passionate about computer science education and outreach, and is on the Advisory Board for the Anita Borg Institute. She blogs regularly at The Female Perspective of Computer Science.
One of the big hurdles of getting more women into tech is making sure they know the job exists and providing more visible role models. Like my newest high school mentee recently said: “You hear women talk about becoming doctors, lawyers, and that sort of thing. Nobody ever talks about becoming a computer scientist!”
Enter Anita’s Quilt. A project of the Advisory Board of the Anita Borg Institute (of which I’m a member), Anita’s Quilt is an ongoing dialog of inspirational stories from women in tech supporting each other and individually striving to have more impact as technologists. We know things aren’t perfect for women in our industry; the Quilt is about giving people enough concrete ideas so they feel capable of taking actions.
We believe a personal story has the power to inspire, transform and shape others’ stories. With that in mind, Anita’s Quilt features a wide range of stories coming from undergraduate students to Turing Award winners (the Turing Award is the top prize for computer scientists). Stories are organized into campaigns. The Systers collection that came first showcased stories from some of the very first Systers (members of the technical-women-only Systers mailing list) as well as more recent members. The next campaign was all about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and included stories about how the conference started and the impact it has had on attendees. The current cycle is called Legends and Visionaries, and includes a story featuring Anita Borg herself as well as one of those aforementioned Turing Award winners, Barbara Liskov.
So here we have a powerful tool to inform and inspire women around the world about careers in computer science and engineering. But we need your help. We need you to share the Anita’s Quilt website with your communities both online and in real life. We also need you to share individual stories. Read a few, pick your favourites, and tweet a line about why you liked it. Help draw attention to the women you found most inspiring. Hopefully, with your help, we can help the Quilt grow along with its impact!