Carnegie Mellon to Host Forum on Making Computer Science a More Female-Friendly Field

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PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science (SCS) will host a forum on how to make computer technology and the field of computer science a more friendly discipline for girls and young women. Enhancing the position of women in the field is beneficial for everyone because of the different perspective they bring to the development and use of computer technology.

The event, titled "Leading the Way: Girls, Technology and Education", will take place from 2:30-6 p.m., Thursday, April 19, in McConomy Auditorium in the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Experts from the research, education and business arenas will discuss girls' relationships with technology in education, entertainment and the home, new technologies to reflect women's needs, ways to make this technology available to girls in disadvantaged situations and opportunities for girls to influence the development of new computer technology.The GTE forum was conceived by Sonia Allin, a doctoral student in Carnegie Mellon's Human Computer Interaction Institute. Lenore Blum, distinguished career professor in the School of Computer Science, will moderate the conference with her. Blum is faculty adviser to Women@SCS, an advisory group for women -- -- studying in the field. Blum is well known for her work in increasing the participation of girls and women in mathematics and science. She was instrumental in founding the Association for Women in Mathematics, and the Math/Science Network and its "Expanding Your Horizons" conferences for high school girls.Forum speakers include:

  • Dr. Maria Klawe, dean of science, University of British Columbia, who focuses on research aimed at increasing the participation of women in information technology.
  • Megan Gaiser, president, and Robert Riedl, director, product development, Seattle-based HerInteractive, creator of video games based on the Nancy Drew mystery books and specially targeted toward girls.
  • Allan Fisher, president and CEO of Carnegie Technology Education and former associate dean for undergraduate education in Carnegie Mellon's computer science school. In collaboration with co-speaker Jane Margolis, now a researcher in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, Fisher spearheaded an intensive effort to understand and enlarge the representation of women in Carnegie Mellon's computer science undergraduate program. In large measure, because of their research and proactive work with AP computer science high school teachers, a cultural transformation is taking place at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, which enjoys one of the nation's most successful programs for women in this field.

While other schools across the country are witnessing declines in the number of women enrolled in computer science, the number of women in Carnegie Mellon's program has jumped from 8 percent of a class of 110 in 1995 to 40 percent of a class of 129 in 2000.

"Carnegie Mellon is the appropriate venue for this forum," Blum says. "We are sitting on a gold mine of resources for women that we would like to pull together. If more girls and women get involved in computer science, the technology may change."

The forum is free, but registration is REQUIRED to attend. Please register online by April 15 at

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 |