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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Individual Sponsors:

Julia Ashmun

Author Archive for Liana Leahy

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A coworker just clued me in to an awesome news website called  The idea is to “help you explore your passions by collecting stories from ‘all the top’ sites on the web”.  

The layout is extremely classy and user friendly.  And clicking on the topic of women brought me to with a very interesting collection of blogs.  Check it out.

A Side by Side Comparison

The website is a concerned citizens initiative cosponsored by the AAAS, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, and signed by over 175 leading American universities and other organizations, representing over 125 million Americans.

On the site you can find a very interesting PDF on the Campaign Responses to Questions from The Association for Women in Science & The Society of Women Engineers.

Choose your candidate wisely!

Privacy is Not Dead, it’s Just Sleeping — Let’s Wake it Up!

Professor Latanya Sweeney 
Associate Professor of Computer Science,Technology and Policy in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, October 16, 2008

4:00 p.m.
Maxwell Dworkin G-125
Ice cream at 3:30 p.m. – Maxwell Dworkin ground floor

Given widespread data collection and data sharing,this talk identifies
ways technology and policy can work together to provide guarantees of
privacy while keeping data useful. This talk begins by looking at ways
to learn sensitive information about individuals from seemingly innocent
facts. Examples include real-world experiments on medical, genetic,
video, web, and social network data. We then look at ways to share
these data with guarantees of privacy and utility. This talk ends by
proposing new policy guidelines for data collection and sharing, on the
one hand, and new problems for computer scientists to solve, on the
other. Together, the proposed policy and technology weave together so
that society can enjoy the benefits of data sharing while still
protecting individual privacy.

Speaker: Latanya Sweeney, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Computer
Science,Technology and Policy in the School of Computer Science at
Carnegie Mellon University. She also founded and serves as the Director
of the Data Privacy Lab, which works with real-world stakeholders to
solve today’s privacy technology problems. Her work involves creating
technologies and related policies with provable guarantees of privacy
protection while allowing society to collect and share person-specific
information for many worthy purposes. Her work has received awards from
numerous organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association,
the American Medical Informatics Association, and the Blue Cross Blue
Shield Association. The American College of Medical Informatics
inducted her as a Fellow in 2006. Dr. Sweeney received her Ph.D. in
computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001.


Do you twitter?

The site Twitter is a website that helps friends, family, and co-workers communicate quickly and easily through short updates. Users let one another know what they’re up to by answering one question: What are you doing? Using 140 characters or less, members provide the Reader’s Digest “short answer” to that question. 

Most tech-saavy folks at Berkman twitter.  But perhaps you don’t know about TwitterMoms.  This a place where twittering moms can meet and network with other moms who twitter.

As I was seeking out geeky moms more like myself, I came upon the Techmamas group created by TechMama blogger Beth Blecherman.  There are currently 140 members… oh, 141 I just joined!

Are there any other twitter sites out there for twittering women in tech?


Women Don’t Speak

David Sasaki of Global Voices blogs about the lack of women presenters.  Many conference organizers complain that they simply can’t find women to speak.  Fortunately, David provides a link to which has compiled a list of women speakers.  

We’d like to see more Women in Tech on the list, but its a good start.

OreillyNet’s Women in Technology

O’Reilly Media Inc. has created the Women in Technology series comprised of articles written by women on the topic of “Women in Technology”.  In September, they interviewed our own Berkman Fellow, Danah Boyd.  Check out the interview and other blogs at  

Why only ONE month of women in tech, O’Reilly?

Can’t You See I’m Busy?: Computers That Know When to Interrupt

Barbara J. Grosz
Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Monday, October 27, 2008 4:15 PM
Radcliffe Gymnasium
10 Garden Street, Radcliffe Yard
Cambridge, Massachusetts
This lecture is free and open to the public.
Sometimes a computer system has information its user needs; at other times, the user may have information that helps the computer. Current systems require that people adapt to the computer, if only to tell it to go away. In her first lecture as dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Barbara J. Grosz will describe research that aims to shift the burden of adaptation from human to computer, so that computers respect our needs and adapt to us rather than the other way around.

In addition to being dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Grosz is Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She previously served as the Institute’s dean of science, designing and building its science program. Grosz has been a Harvard University faculty member since 1986. Her research in computer science, focused on finding ways to make computers behave more intelligently, draws on work in linguistics, psychology, economics, and philosophy. Grosz has also led several Harvard University efforts to increase the participation of women in science. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the Association for Computing Machinery. In 1993, Grosz became the first woman president of the AAAI. She serves on the executive committee and is a former trustee of the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence.

For more information, visit ” title=”\”>” target=”_blank”>”>or” title=”\”>or” target=”_blank”>”>or call 617-495-8600.







The Truth About Boys and Girls

MIT’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program presents:

The Truth About Boys and Girls

Tuesday, September 16th 2008 7:00pm

Bldg 32-141


WOMEN ARE the chatty sex, using three times as many words each day as men. They are society’s great communicators. The verbal parts of their brains are larger than men’s and they are hard-wired for empathy, but they lack a natural ability to reach the top levels of math and science.

MEN, on the other hand, have brains that are good at understanding systems, and they are adept at acquiring and using power. They are hard-wired to excel at math and science, but lag behind women in reading ability. They talk less and are not naturally inclined toward caring for others.

Sound familiar? In the past decade, such claims have coalesced into an almost unshakable conventional wisdom: Boys and girls are different because their brains are different. This idea has driven bestsellers, parenting articles, and even – increasingly – American education. In their presentation, Dr. Rosalind Barnett and Professor Caryl Rivers reveal the bad stories about women that never die, de-constructing the cultural and media myths that support the notion that women are not suited (because of their brains and their hormones) for math, science and analyzing systems.


Welcome to BEGaT

BEGaT is a group of Berkman community members dedicated to fostering inquiry, commentary, and scholarship on the role of gender in technology.

We are just beginning to form our initiative and this blog currently represents a work in progress until our official launch later this fall. In the meantime, we welcome all input and interest from the Berkman community.