ImaginePittsburgh.com

“Don’t change the curriculum. Change the culture.”

That’s the approach of Lenore Blum, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 1999. Rather than changing or “dumbing down” the curriculum, CMU established mentorship programs offering support and continuity from faculty.

Read all about it in the article by CNN Tech’s by Sara Ashley O’Brien, excerpted below.

cmu-women-qatar

“So many eligible women.”

That’s how Carnegie Mellon’s Lenore Blum referred to this year’s applicants for CMU’s School of Computer Science. Women make up 48% of incoming freshman this year — a new high for the school.

There were nearly 7,000 applicants for the program this year. It accepted just 166, which is about 30% larger than in past years.

The percent of women in the class far surpasses the national average of 16.5% for undergraduate computer science programs, according to the Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey.

Blum, who teachers computer science, said there was no talk of “lowering of the bar” at CMU to do so.

“Every year, we get more and more women. And every year, it seems like all the scores and stats go up. It is competitive to get into our program,” Blum said.

Related: Women coders do better than men in gender-blind study

That stands in contrast to the commonly-cited “pipeline problem,” which some in Silicon Valley use as the reason their companies aren’t diverse — that there simply aren’t enough minority or female STEM graduates.

Blum said blaming the pipeline is a “mistake.”

“You start with the group you have,” she added, noting that this year’s achievement reflects incremental growth over several decades.

While Harvey Mudd College credited a redesigned curriculum, for bringing in and retaining more female students, Blum and CMU have taken a very different approach.

When Blum joined CMU in 1999, she said there was serious talk of changing the curriculum to attract more women. “I said, ‘No way. You change the culture — not the curriculum.’”

Instead, Blum started Women@SCS, a mentorship organization for female computer science students. Unlike many organizations that are student-run, this particular group is led by faculty, which means there’s continuity even when students graduate. “You need the guidance and institutional support and the memory,” Blum said.

“Encouraging women by giving them a support system and a sense of community is a good idea,” Macallan Cruff, an 18-year-old CMU freshman told CNNMoney. “Don’t dumb down the curriculum.”

Cruff said she’s been pleasantly surprised to see a 50/50 split of men and women in her courses, compared to about four women in a class of 25 in her high school computer science class.

Related: Parents, yes! Your princesses can code

Cruff hopes schools will work to foster a sense of community for students at a much younger age. As a junior in high school, Cruff formed a “Coding Club” at a nearby elementary school to start introducing programming to girls in the third grade.

Blum said Carnegie Mellon is also focused on reaching students before they even enter college. It trains high school teachers on the latest programming languages, which encourages them to spread the word about CMU to their students.

She stressed the importance of having the administration put money behind the school’s efforts and not solely rely on grants.

Blum noted that Silicon Valley has been recruiting Carnegie Mellon’s graduates, an obvious move given that most tech companies are looking for talented candidates, especially female ones.

But she said it could compromise the number of women going on to get computer science PhDs. “I have concerns about that,” she said.

What pipeline problem? Carnegie Mellon nears gender parity CNNMoney (New York) / First published September 16, 2016: 10:13 AM ET

ImaginePittsburgh.com

Just a few tickets are left for the Monday, Sept. 26 ATHENA Awards luncheon! Get yours today at Athena-Pittsburgh.com

Eight women – five veteran managers and three emerging leaders – have been selected as finalists for the 2016 ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh. They will be among the many nominees recognized for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the annual ATHENA Awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The awards are presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. One finalist from each category – the traditional ATHENA award, and the ATHENA Young Professional Award – will receive her respective award at the event.

The finalists for the traditional ATHENA award compose a varied and distinguished group. Each woman uses her leadership to create professional excellence and positive regional impact. The finalists are:

  • Audrey Dunning, CEO, Summa Technologies, Inc.
  • Kelly Gray, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, FedEx Ground
  • Diana Reid, Executive Vice President, PNC Real Estate
  • Tracy Vitale, Superintendent of Schools, Seneca Valley School District
  • Yvette Williams, Senior Patient Advocate/Program Manager, Allegheny Health Network/The Open Door, Inc.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award (AYPA) will be presented to a woman 35 years of age or younger who exemplifies the traditional ATHENA qualities, with an emphasis on being a role model. The finalists are:

  • Marteen Garay, Director of Entrepreneurship Programming, Urban Innovation21
  • Caitlin Green, Vice President, PNC Bank, N.A.
  • Katie Kopczynski, Marketing Analyst, Eaton

A complete list of nominees can be found at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com.

Also at the luncheon, ATHENA officials will announce the recipient of the new Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship, named for the ATHENA program’s founder and retired president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an Allegheny Conference affiliate). The scholarship will be awarded annually to one woman age 35 or younger to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. The deadline to apply is July 29 for the academy session that begins Sept. 23. Learn more about the scholarship and the academy here.

Last year’s Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon drew nearly 900 attendees. That makes it among the largest stand-alone events of its kind among the 500-plus communities around the globe that present the award each year.

Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com. Sponsorships are still available; contact ATHENA@alleghenyconference.org.

The ATHENA Awards are the networking event of the season for men and women of all backgrounds! Tickets available here: Athena-Pittsburgh.com

Eight women – five veteran managers and three emerging leaders – have been selected as finalists for the 2016 ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh. They will be among the many nominees recognized for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the annual ATHENA Awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The awards are presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. One finalist from each category – the traditional ATHENA award, and the ATHENA Young Professional Award – will receive her respective award at the event.

The finalists for the traditional ATHENA award compose a varied and distinguished group. Each woman uses her leadership to create professional excellence and positive regional impact. The finalists are:

  • Audrey Dunning, CEO, Summa Technologies, Inc.
  • Kelly Gray, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, FedEx Ground
  • Diana Reid, Executive Vice President, PNC Real Estate
  • Tracy Vitale, Superintendent of Schools, Seneca Valley School District
  • Yvette Williams, Senior Patient Advocate/Program Manager, Allegheny Health Network/The Open Door, Inc.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award (AYPA) will be presented to a woman 35 years of age or younger who exemplifies the traditional ATHENA qualities, with an emphasis on being a role model. The finalists are:

  • Marteen Garay, Director of Entrepreneurship Programming, Urban Innovation21
  • Caitlin Green, Vice President, PNC Bank, N.A.
  • Katie Kopczynski, Marketing Analyst, Eaton

A complete list of nominees can be found at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com.

Also at the luncheon, ATHENA officials will announce the recipient of the new Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship, named for the ATHENA program’s founder and retired president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an Allegheny Conference affiliate). The scholarship will be awarded annually to one woman age 35 or younger to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. The deadline to apply is July 29 for the academy session that begins Sept. 23. Learn more about the scholarship and the academy here.

Last year’s Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon drew nearly 900 attendees. That makes it among the largest stand-alone events of its kind among the 500-plus communities around the globe that present the award each year.

Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com. Sponsorships are still available; contact ATHENA@alleghenyconference.org.

Alison Treaster

For decades, the Pittsburgh region has been a haven for refugees fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries. Refugee families, children and individuals have put down roots in southwestern Pennsylvania with the help of local resettlement agencies, religious organizations and nondenominational groups. Today, our region is dotted with vibrant communities of hard-working Bhutanese, Bosnian, Burmese, Congolese, Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese and Syrian refugees, among others.

While adapting to a new home with different languages and customs is difficult even in the best of circumstances, refugees positively contribute to the Pittsburgh community in a variety of ways. On June 17, Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day in Market Square celebrated those contributions with musical and dance performances, as well as “Refugee Voices” presentations and food and fares from the local communities.

WRD_Poster_2016Who are refugees? A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. While returning home is often a goal, many refugees spend years in temporary camps in third countries before either returning home or being approved for resettlement in an adopted country. Their plight has been brought to wider public attention over the past year as conflict in Syria and ongoing violence around the world has forced more than 15 million people to flee their country of origin. The United Nations’ Refugee Agency calls this the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Through it all, Pittsburgh has remained a welcoming city. Thanks to the tireless efforts of various organizations, our region continues to help more than 500 refugees create homes here each year. The U.S. refugee process is grueling and typically takes years. Refugees remain among the most highly vetted population to enter our country, undergoing screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and one-on-one interviews abroad before they may be approved to enter the United States.

For more information or to help refugees in the Pittsburgh region, contact a local refugee resettlement agency such as  AJAPOCatholic CharitiesJewish Family & Children’s Services or the Northern Area Multi-Service Center.

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Learn what makes a winning ATHENA nomination at Athena-Pittsburgh.com

It’s that time again — time to recognize the extraordinary women in the Pittsburgh region who go above and beyond in their work and mentorship of other women. Nominations for the 2016 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards will be accepted (online only) until 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the traditional ATHENA Award recognizes a woman who demonstrates excellence in her profession, contributes to her community and helps other women to succeed. Last year’s recipient was  Lynn M. Banaszak, executive director at Health Innovation in Pennsylvania Disruptive Health Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Josie Badger, Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center’s youth development director, received the ATHENA Young Professional Award for emerging leaders age 35 or younger.

Wondering how to craft a winning nomination? Check out this tip sheet put together by Pittsburgh Magazine Publisher Betsy Benson.

There are hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year, but Pittsburgh’s gathering is one of the largest. More than 900 women and men are expected to attend this year’s luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Interested in sponsorship? Contact sgaal@alleghenyconference.org.

Watch videos, learn more at Athena-Pittsburgh.com. / Look for updates under #PghAthena on Facebook and Twitter.