Ruby on Rails Workshop

Thanks to everyone who contributed and attended the workshop this October. We hope we were successful in hosting an attitude-free, newbie-safe and mama-friendly tech event encouraging women to join the Ruby on Rails community.

Women are a minority in most technical communities, but in open source communities the numbers are even smaller — by a factor of about ten or more.

Moving forward, we encourage our newly empowered programmers to meet monthly and use their skills towards open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, mixed gendered environment.

Click here to learn more about the Open Source Code Crunch.

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Julia Ashmun

Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology

As stated on the new White House website, Obama has made a commitement to “Increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce”.

But how do you DO that exactly? Especially when this morning, I read arecent article about’s “Most Influential Women in Web 2.0” post in which many comments to Digg were graphic, sexist, and nasty eventually resulting in posters being thrown off by the site’s administrators.

The New York Times offers suggestions in an excellent article about ‘Geek Chic’ that talks about the hurdles women face pursing a career in science and offers some ideas.

In particular, I applaud their suggestion of appointing women to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. We need role models. And we need women in power who will step outside of the boy’s club and mentor other young women as they seek a leg up.

The article also points out that pursuing an academic career in science means giving up having a family. “Men can have it all, but women can’t,” says Dr. Mary Ann Mason of the University of California, Berkeley. She believes that an executive order that would provide added family leave and parental benefits to the recipients of federal grants would make a difference. Why stop there?

As a pregnant, woman technologist myself let me restate the obvious point that creating life and parenting small children while staying technically relevant is a challenge. But it can be done. I did it. I’m doing it again. Women are doing it. Sure we’re drooling on our keyboards in the first trimester, but we’re no less productive than our husbands (now involved fathers giving up blogging and gaming time for midnight feedings) who are also drooling on their keyboards when the boss isn’t looking. Still the obvious discrimination that women face is astounding.

Personally, I think its all about perception. Women (and everyone else) need to be able to envision themselves as successful technologists. We need to know that choosing a career in science doesn’t mean giving up the Manolo Blahniks as well as any hope of raising a family.

Hollywood has made motherhood sexy. Can Obama make science sexy? Can a pregnant, software developer be sexy? Have you met me? …Seriously though, I wonder if science becomes sexy, glamorous, the new chic, will more girls be drawn to it? Wouldn’t it be awsome if Obama hired Xeni Jardin for his Council of Advisers on Science and Technology?

The NY Times article also makes mention of a network show I love called The Big Bang Theory. I get a thrill hearing all the geek references thrown around in primetime. But what is troublesome about this show is that the sexy, blonde bombshell across the hall didn’t graduate community college and the only other female physicist is unattractive, sexually abnormal and unfeminine. While both women can hold their own amongst a group of socially awkward but brilliant men… who would you rather be?

We need role models, Mr. Obama. Feminine role models who aren’t afraid to bring home the bacon, chauffeur the kids in a van, and be able to set up your lan.

New CTO of the U.S. Could be a Woman

It’s great to see President Obama so focused on technology and the importance of it in our government. Although it is still unclear how the new CTO position will interact with the current Chief Information Officer and the new Cyber-Security Czar position the two people up for the position are both Indian-born technology executives. They are Padmasree Warrior who is the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, and Vivek Kundra, who is the chief technology officer in the government of Washington, D.C. Padmasree Warrior was previously the CTO at Motorolla and has a strong technology expertise.

Check out the article in Business Week.

Gender and the Law: Radcliffe’s 7th Annual Gender Conference

Radcliffe Gymnasium 10 Garden Street, Radcliffe Yard
Thurs., Mar. 12, 2 – 5 pm Fri., Mar. 13, 9 am – 5:30 pm
Admission is free and registration is required.
Registration will open on Fri., Jan. 30

Gender and the Law: Unintended Consequences, Unsettled Questions

Unsettled questions of gender and the law present a broad range of challenges in courtrooms, legislatures, and everyday lives. Laws meant to protect or promote gender equality may have unintended consequences, and laws that seem irrelevant to gender may nonetheless significantly impact gender issues. This conference will convene judges; legal practitioners; and scholars of law, the humanities, and the social sciences from around the world to explore the ways in which legal regulations and gender influence each other. From varying historical and cultural perspectives, participants will address legal encounters with gender in the essential spaces of daily life: the body, the home, school, work, the nation, and the world.


    Thursday, March 12, 2009

Session I: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Conversation with Linda Greenhouse ’68

Session II: Gender and Schooling

Panel Moderator: Martha Minow, Harvard University, Law Sandra Lea Lynch, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals, First Circuit Katharine Bartlett, Duke University, Law Lenora Lapidus, American Civil Liberties Union, Law Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, Emory University, Law

    Friday, March 13, 2009

Session III: The Market, The Family, and Economic Power

Panel Moderator: Janet Halley, Harvard University, Law Beshara Doumani RI ’08, University of California at Berkeley, History Vicki Schultz, Yale University, Law Gillian Lester, University of California at Berkeley Chantal Thomas, Cornell University, Law

Roundtable Moderator: Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Lisa Duggan, New York University, Cultural Historian Sharon Rabin-Margaliot, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel, Law Mona Zulificar, Shalakany Law Office, Cairo Alice Kessler-Harris RI ’02, Columbia University, History Philomila Tsoukala, Georgetown University, Law Ying Sun, TAOS, Activist for Labor Issues in China

Session IV: Gendered Bodies, Legal Subjects

Panel Moderator: Jeannie Suk, Harvard University, Law Kendall Thomas, Columbia University, Law Cecelia Medina Quiroga, Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Karen L. Engle, University of Texas at Austin, Law Hauwa Ibrahim, 20082009 Rita E. Hauser Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Aries Law Firm, Nigeria

Session V: Gendered States of Citizenship

Panel Moderator: Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University, Law and Public Policy Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa, History Ayelet Shachar, University of Toronto, Law Brenda Marjorie Hale, the Right Honorable, the Baroness Hale of Richmond, Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Privy Council, House of Lords Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago, English Reva Siegel, Yale University, Law

For more information, visit or call 617-495-8600.

Fortune 500 Women CEOs

There are 12 Fortune 500 CEOs that are women, but none of them are in the technology field. Maybe the next generation of CEOs will change that! Read the article from

Support Ada Lovelace Day!

Join the pledge of over a thousand people to blog about your favorite woman techie on March 24th. You can pledge here:

Learn more about Ada Lovelace, the “first programmer”, here.

Girl Geeks Unite and Go To Dinner

From the women who brought you GirlGeekDinnersBostonGirlGeeks has recently launched!  Participate online by joining the Facebook Group or via Twitter at bostongirlgeek.  The next dinner is planned for January 23rd.

National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science in Harvard Yard

National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science 2009 February 6-7, 2009 in Harvard Yard Hosted by WISHR, Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe.

NSAWS is an event taking place every other year organized by Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe (WISHR).  The fifth conference is planned to take place on Harvard college campus on February 6-7, 2009. With the university-wide commitment to communication between experts in all fields, we hope to bring together a diverse group of scientists engaged in inter-disciplinary research, in line with our conference theme of “Crossing Borders.”

Since its founding in 1989, Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe (WISHR) has grown into a large multi-faceted organization devoted to fostering a sense of community and solidarity for the undergraduate women engaged in science at Harvard College.  WISHR provides a support network and resource base in addition to fostering discussion on women s issues and providing inspiration and encouragement for those pursuing science-related careers.

The National Symposium on the Advancement of Women in Science (NSAWS) has been a significant addition to WISHR s program.  NSAWS serves to raise awareness of current issues facing female scientists and to encourage women to take leadership roles in scientific fields.  In the spring of 2000, the first NSAWS addressed the developing role of women in science to an audience of several hundred undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and professionals. Since then, NSAWS has continued to draw leaders in science from all across the nation to discuss strategies to increase women s participation in science.

See the full schedule and register here: