On October 30, 2018, Washington University’s Women in Computer Science hosted their annual Hidden Figures Awareness Night to celebrate women in computing. The purpose of the event was to highlight the technological achievements of women, which may have otherwise gone unnoticed; additionally, WashU WiCS hoped to contribute to the development and growth of a strong, supportive community of future STEM leaders. Company representatives from AT&T, Mastercard, CiBO, Jane.ai, and Less Annoying CRM attended the event to network and interact with the attendees. Personally, as just a first year, I felt comfortable developing my networking skills in the setting of this event. The company representatives were excited to speak about their work, which made conversations flow easily as attendees developed questions throughout. Aaron Bobick, Dean of the McKelvey School of Engineering, was in attendance and briefly spoke to the importance of promoting the presence of women in the computer science department. After dinner with company reps, the keynote speaker, Aarti Sharma, was introduced. Ms. Sharma, the Vice President of Enterprise Data Solutions at Mastercard, spoke about her role of maintaining the quality of global transactional data in the Enterprise Data Warehouse at Mastercard, and offered invaluable advice for student attendees as they move forward in their careers. One of the main reasons I was looking forward to coming to the event was to gather advice to apply to my coming years at WashU; Ms. Sharma’s sentiments on how to stay driven as a woman in tech strengthened my own confidence then and continues to motivate me today. Other features of the event included a photo booth and an activity in which everybody was given a card corresponding to a woman in STEM and some of her achievements, then told to locate the person in the room with the matching card, which had questions pertaining to each specific woman. I think I talked to almost everybody before finding my match, which was the optimal situation because I had a chance to meet more WiCS members and company representatives as well as learn about all of the “hidden figures” on the cards. After the event, attendees were sent contact information for all of the company representatives. This was a nice touch and I did reach out to some of them following the event to ask for more details on opportunities they had described. Hidden Figures Awareness Night connected and empowered women in computing, as well as recognized the achievements of those who came before us.

Categories: Events

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