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.

Corporate Sponsors:




Individual Sponsors:

Julia Ashmun

Gender and Technology Mini-Conference

The Gender and Technology Group at the Berkman Center is hosting a mini conference this Wednesday, March 18th from 1-5 PM in the conference room.   If you are interested in attending, please contact  womenintech at 

Gender and Technology Group The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard

The Berkman Center’s Gender and Technology Group promotes academic and other interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between gender and technology in the digital age. As part of this mission, the Group is convening a working session on March 18th to:

• Explore a variety of academic approaches to the relationship between gender and technology, and consider their relevance to the Berkman Center’s work;

• Build community around gender and technology issues, studies, and activities; and,

• Develop a slate of related activities for the coming year. Among other activities, the Group is considering a larger conference at which academics, technologists, policy-makers, business people, activists, and students will explore how to incorporate a gender dimension in their technology-related work.

Gender and Technology Group Goals

This committee will explore how the Berkman Center can support conversations and activities related to gender and technology along three tracks:

• Research. Support, discuss and examine various perspectives on bringing a gender framework to technology-related work across contexts including academic research, law, policy-making, advocacy, technical development, and business;

• Leadership. Leverage Berkman’s role as a hub for technology-related scholarship and dialogue to bring to the forefront people—at Berkman, at the University and elsewhere—who incorporate consideration of gender into their work in ICT;

• Community. Build a network of academics, staff, students, alumni, and other community members interested in bringing a gender focus to their work. This community-building supports Berkman’s transition from a Center within the Law School to one that is more integrated into the wider University community.

Mini Conference

Wednesday March 18

Introduction 1:15-5:00 PM

The goal of the March 18th working session is to surface a sampling of key perspectives and scholarly approaches to discourse around gender in the digital age. The afternoon will consist of a series of short presentations, working sessions, and conversations facilitated by academic researchers, technologists, and lawyers, all of whom bring a gendered perspective to areas of their work. In addition to discussing the substance of these individuals’ work, we will discuss what Berkman’s role should be in fostering future research, discussions, or activities in this area.

For each session, speakers will be asked to make remarks from 10-15 minutes, to be followed by facilitated discussion 10-15 minutes. The final session will focus on develop actionable next steps. Details of the agenda follow.

1:15-1:30 PM Opening Remarks/Introductions/Framing the Key Issues

The Gender and Technology Group

1:30 -1:45 PM Framing/Contextualizing Gender

Follow-up comments by Duncan Kennedy

How do unsettled questions regarding the meaning of gender present a broad range of challenges, to academics, students, and technologists who seek to bring a gender analysis to their work? How do varying historical, political and cultural perspectives shape scholarship and meaningful dialogue around this topic area? How can we develop a research framework for approaching the relationship between gender and technology?

1:45 – 2:15 PM Gender and IT Research I

Looking at Gender in Empirical Research on Technology Usage

Remarks by Eszter Hargittai.

Eszter Hargittai is a sociologist focused on examining the social and policy implications of information technologies, with a particular interest in how IT may contribute to or alleviate social inequalities. Although not the focal point of her work, gender dynamics have often emerged in the context of her empirical research. For example, existing literature on gender and technology use suggests that women and men differ significantly in their attitudes toward their technological abilities, with the dominant assumption (held by both men and women) that women are less adept or sophisticated in their technological know-how than men. However, work by Hargittai has found that men and women do not necessarily differ greatly in their online abilities; rather, it is their

perceptions of their abilities that varies. Nonetheless, even mere perceptions – despite not necessarily reflecting actual disparities in skill – can translate into differential online behavior. How are certain assumptions about gender both recreated and recast during Web usage? What are the implications for social inequality? How does a consideration of digital media use by gender enhance our understanding of the social, political, economic and cultural implications of information and communication technologies?

2:15-2:30 PM Moving Into the International Arena

Looking at Gender and ICT on a Global Scale

Remarks by Nancy Hafkin.

In moving from developed to developing countries, how does the gender dimension change? How do gender issues become sharper as the gaps in access, income, education, and mobility between most men and women become starker, and the access to information technology much more difficult than in developed countries? What dimensions does ICT4D (Information Technology for Development) add to gender and technology?

2:30-3:00 PM Gender and IT Research II

Looking at Gender in the Context of Trust and Online Identity

Remarks by Judith Donath.

Gender ranges from being a physical category to an identity performance, and therefore more than a basic binary physical distinction. I’ll give a brief history of work on gender online and about the extensive gender deception online and its costs and benefits. I’ll frame this with Alan Turing’s 1950 article “On computing machinery and intelligence” which started the field of AI, and begins with a parlor game of gender deception (and then segues into the question of whether machines could be intelligent – and the knowability of other minds). What is it that we want to know about the other in cyberspace (clearly a context dependent question) and how does looking at the specific issue of gender help clarify thinking about this large and complex issue?

3:00- 3:15 PM Coffee Break

3:15- 3:45 PM Gender and Legal Practice

Remarks by Diane Rosenfeld and Dena Sacco. Conversation facilitated by Phil Malone.

What is the role of the Internet in both furthering and undermining law enforcement efforts with gender dimensions? For example, what are the positive roles that technology can play in keeping track of batterers? On the other hand, how do digital technologies expand access to adult and child pornography, and what are the subsequent implications for gender violence?

3:45-4:15 PM Gender, Technology and Computer Science

Introduction by Liana Leahy. Remarks by Margo Seltzer. Conversation facilitated Elizabeth Stark

What are the factors and challenges effecting gender balance in computer science and technology? How do gender considerations have a role in your work? (For example, how different will video games be now that more women are involved in writing them these days?) What are the issues and strategies involved in creating leadership, promotion and tenure opportunities for women in the sciences at Harvard and beyond? How can younger women be brought into IT, both as technologists and technical and social entrepreneurs?

4:15-5:00 PM Wrap-Up: Approaching Gender in the Digital Age

Conversation facilitated by Terry Fisher.

• Brainstorming Next Steps

o Research: How can existing approaches to gender analysis be brought to bear on key Berkman research areas? What do we need to develop a theoretical framework?

o Community: What role should this group play at Berkman and beyond? How can we expand our network?

o Future Conference: What are the key questions? Topic areas? People?

• Solidifying, summarizing, mapping areas of interest/different approaches

All participants will be invited to post their reflections in the weeks that follow the conference.

Optional Dinner

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