Lecture by NPR's Moira Gunn to launch IU Center of Excellence for Women in Technology

  • Oct. 17, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington's Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, a new campus initiative dedicated to helping women succeed in tech-related fields, will formally launch this month with a lecture by Moira Gunn, host of National Public Radio's "Tech Nation."

Gunn, a former NASA computer scientist and a leading advocate for women in technology, will speak on "Life Choices in a Digitally Connected World" at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, in the IU Auditorium. Her lecture is included in the College of Arts and Sciences' Themester 2013, Connectedness: Networks in a Complex World.

The kickoff will also include a "launch party" featuring hands-on, interactive technology demonstrations and presentations, from 4 to 5 p.m. Oct. 28 in the IU Auditorium lobby. The party is open to the public; students, especially, are encouraged to drop in, even if they are unable to attend the lecture.

The new center, known as CEWiT, was created through the Office of the Provost to help increase participation and success of women in technology-related fields through research collaborations, education, mentoring and community building. The center takes an interdisciplinary, unified approach for faculty, staff and students, serving as a model to encourage, empower and promote women in technology and computing fields at IU and across the region.

"There are amazing opportunities for academics and professionals who work with technology, and CEWiT is dedicated to ensuring that IU women have access to them,” IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel said. “The center is already building remarkable momentum with more than 200 faculty members, staff members and students involved. CEWiT is an essential part of IU Bloomington’s focused effort to support women in science and technology and help them succeed in a range of exciting and rewarding careers."

The Oct. 28 events will be the culmination of a month of "TechTober" activities organized by the center. Offering workshops, networking events and other opportunities for women on campus, the center provides resources and information through its website and via a student-focused "Techie Women Have More" campaign to highlight the benefits of pursuing opportunities in technology.

IU Bloomington ranks 11th in the nation and second in the Big Ten for enrollment of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, according to a recent report from The College Database. The campus and the center seek to build on that success, CEWiT Director Maureen Biggers said.

“Fewer than 20 percent of college students, and even fewer women, are graduating with technology degrees at a time when job projections show it to be one of the fastest-growing opportunities in the U.S. through at least 2020,” Biggers said. “Not only does CEWiT promote success of women faculty and staff, but we are committed to raising the visibility of women students’ participation in technology, thus giving them significantly enhanced career opportunities in an area where the wage gap is much smaller. Several companies have already heard through the grapevine about this organization and are seeking us out to see how they can engage in meaningful ways with our student affiliates.”

An advisory council chaired by IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie and including faculty, student and staff members is responsible for providing general strategic oversight and direction for the center.

Gunn, who will speak Oct. 28, is best known as host of NPR's "Tech Nation" and its regular segment "BioTech Nation." An undergraduate computer science major, she went on to earn a master's degree in computer science at Purdue University, where she also became the first woman to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering. She holds a software patent in human nutrition measurement systems, and her work in information systems extends from satellite image processing and climate models to robotic systems, financial systems and the first Macintosh database.

Gunn's IU Themester lecture will provide insights about planning a career when many future jobs have not yet been imagined, understanding the role that digital connectedness will play in the future, and appreciating human elements that will remain the same, regardless of technological change.

The launch party will feature demonstrations of new technologies such as Google Glass, mini-computers and interactive robots, along with presentations on topics such as digital art and design tools, e-textiles, network visualization systems and optical music recognition programs. Giveaways including T-shirts and microfiber screen cleaners will be available, and refreshments will be provided.

Related Links

Moira Gunn

Moira Gunn | Photo by Tech Nation

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Media Contacts

Elisabeth Andrews

  • Office of the Provost
  • Office 812-856-7855
  • ecandrew@indiana.edu

Steve Hinnefeld