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Grace Hopper Women in Computing 2007, Orlando Florida

GraceHopper.gifYes, 1400 attendees internationally converged in Orlando, Florida for the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference last week, from Oct 17 to October 20.A group of women actually participated in the TechLeaders for Social Innovators Workshop held on October 17 2007. Cisco participants at the workshop, included Barbara Fraser, Corporate Consulting Engineering and myself. Other participants ranged from academia to private industry; and included a journalist who has been involved in human rights issues globally.Whilst the speakers were interesting, Anuradha Vittachi, co-founder and co-director of OneWorld Network, was quite compelling as she instantiated her identity remotely as an avatar and dialed into the workshop for dialogue. In fact, OneWorld was the first NGO to use Second Life for addressing gobal justice issues as articulated by co-founder Peter Armstrong. Anuradha spoke about the OneWork Network program, and on sustainable development. Oneworld Network is UK-based and has launched two new global projects:1. An e-learning gender equalizing project in Nigeria2. A phone-based project supporting farmers in IndiaIn 2006, Anuradha started the OneClimate initiative, that integrates Second Life islands, so called OneClimate archipelago with a social networking space, OneClimate.net. Somewhat related to the Social Innovators Workshop was the panel ‘Using Technology to Empower Women in the Developing World,” Cisco’s Kate Roberts was a co-presenter on this panel. Information Technology has become a powerful force for transforming social, economic, and political life around the globe. However, women throughout the world often run the greatest risk of being excluded from the opportunities offered by the field of IT. Without proper IT recruitment strategies and training, women will continue to be left behind unless we take action now. Cisco is investing resources to impact the gender digital divide globally by focusing our core competencies in three areas (A,B,C’s): Access The Internet, Build Knowledge, and Create Careers.

  • Access The Internet -Programs for Donation of Equipment into Sustainable Programs and NGOs Globally
  • Build Knowledge: Build Skills Through Technology and IN Technology -Networking Academy Program is the largest laboratory for skills development
  • Create Careers

An example from Create careers is partnering with UNIFEM and USAID in Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco, where the Networking Academy is the basis for the “Achieving E-Quality in IT” Initiative in which women receive education in networking skills, as well as job preparedness training for entering the job market. Since the project’s inception, over 1,620 students have participated in the program, with 44 percent female enrollment. Cisco participation at the Grace Hopper conference also included the following sessions:

Final observation is that the conference was a platform for technology and societal impact exchange between individuals from universities and private industry; in addition to an opportunity to discuss career options for those women just completing their studies.There was quite a bit of positive energy at this conference and stay tuned for next year where the venue will be in Colorado!

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