Tag Archives: women

Event for Businesswomen in Ann Arbor on July 31

Earlier this year, I was invited to join a group of women who were organizing a new group for busineswomen in Washtenaw County.  The participants on the steering committee covered a wide variety of businesses, but the unifying characteristic was that everyone was committed to improving the business climate in our region, specifically for women-owned businesses.  To do so, it was first important to figure out who was here!   What busineses are owned or run by women?  Who are the prominent women in our community?  And who are the businesswomen who would enjoy getting together to exchange ideas, suggestions, business cards?

So, the first Women's Exchange of Washtenaw (WXW) event was organized. This involved quite a bit of planning, the securing of sponsors, and a lot of promotion.  In response, over 200 women attended the first event, which was a learning/sharing event held at Kensington Court.  Complete with prominent speakers from our community (Michelle Crumm, Marcie Brogan, Carol Goss, and Eileen Spring) as well as roundtable discussions, the event offered the opportunity to share ideas as well as business cards. If you would like to see a great promo video made from the event, you can view it on YouTube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=4Lb3xQ16r6k.  

The second WXW event is scheduled for July 31 at the Ann Arbor Art Center, from 5-7 pm.  Unlike the learning/sharing sessions of the first event, this is a pure networking event, but the exhibition titled "A PLACE AT THE TABLE" may provoke discussions between women business leaders.  The difficulty that many women artists have had in a traditionally male-dominated art world may parallel the experience of many businesswomen.

If you would like to attend, sign up early, because attendance will be limited to 120 registrants.  The cost of the event is $10/person and proceeds go to the Art Center.  Wine and appetizers will be served.

Event for businesswomen in Ann Arbor area

Over the past few months, I have been involved in organzing an event geared toward the professional women in the Ann Arbor area.  I think that it offers a unique opportunity for women to learn about what other women are doing, and to gauge the prominence of women in our community. 

So, you might ask the question, "WHY is this a gender-specific group?".  That's a rational question, and being in a male-dominated profession, I have spent a lot of time thinking about gender-specific groups. The truth is that the number of women who are active in the business community in Ann Arbor is substantial, but not well publicized.  I've been honored to be working with many of them on the committee putting together this event.  I have a lot to learn, and I feel that bringing together women for an event will go a long way toward an understanding of what is being accomplished in our area by some top-notch women.  I learn a great every day from the men that I'm surrounded by in my field.  I'm happy to stretch that a bit and see what I can learn, or what I can offer, to the business community that is comprised of women.  In truth, we all benefit from diversity, and having access to both male and female perspectives is critical.

The Women's Exchange of Washtenaw (WXW) is not a membership organization.  Rather, its purpose is to organize, encourage, support, educate and strengthen the businesswomen of our region by providing a venue for business connections, skill-building, professional support, and growth.  There are several membership organizations in the area (Association for Women in Computing, National Association of Women Business Owners, etc.) that serve a different purpose.  I'm interested to see how this group grows and distinguishes itself.

The event is being held on Wednesday, May 7th. The event begins at 1:00 pm and includes a thought-provoking panel discussion (with the best line up of panelists you've seen in a long time), breakout sessions where all attendees participate, and a happy hour (and a half) beginning at 4:30 p.m.

In addition to the panelists (check out the bios on www.wxwbusiness.com), the afternoon will be filled with roundtable discussions on issues decided by the participants.  We will include the following breakout sessions:

  • Managing Growth
  • Learning to Lead and Creating Culture
  • Relationship Building
  • Visioning: Creating a Path for your Company

The event will be held at Kensington Court Ann Arbor, 610 Hilton Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI.  The cost to attend is $50 and includes refreshments and one drink ticket.

Register at http://www.wxwbusiness.com. 

I hope that the 5 women who read this blog will join us. <grin/>


Immersing Students in Research Projects

NSF and Oakland University's REU program

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to speak at the Oakland University REU program, for Computer Science students. The program is funded by the NSF to encourage students to pursue graduate programs and careers in computer science.

Students participate from around the country in this 10 week program and it sounds quite interesting.  One of the groups is doing some biochemistry/neural net research toward drug discovery.  I was surprised to see that the students even receive a stipend to participate in the program (as well as a travel subsidy and housing).  I would definitely encourage college students to apply! 

Yesterday's program brought in several professional women to discuss, in particular, women in computer science fields.  The speakers were all quite different, so I think that the students got a well-rounded view of the industry, from small companies like mine to large companies like Dow Chemical, all of the way to what it's like to direct a university's IT department to what Post-Docs do.   Sadly, I had to miss two of the speaker's presentations, but it was an interesting day.

I talked about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and how unlikely it seemed to me, when I was a student that I would have my own company. I feel like I'm quite risk averse, but I've really learn to accept the risk that comes along with working in my own business as ME being the one who is managing the risk rather than being at the mercy of my boss (who may or may not be truthful with me about the financial status of the company).

I also talked about how I try to stay current, focusing a lot on podcasts and blogs.  I told the students about some of my favorite podcasts (all are available for free on iTunes, but also on websites).

  • Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, for business advice
  • The Java Posse
  • DotNet Rocks
  • IT Conversations

I also really encouraged the students to become involved with user groups in their area (and hoping that one of the students comes out for the July meeting of the Python User Group).  I told the students that in the Ann Arbor area, our user groups are suffering from an aging demographic and that we all feel that we would really benefit from some younger opinions and participation. I know that it's intimidating, but I got some feedback about how to welcome students.  I will likely approach the Ann Arbor Computer Society about doing a program geared toward students and heavily advertise it at the local colleges and universities.

Most of the other speakers discussed work/life balance, which always seems to be a topic at these events, as it was at MICWIC earlier this year.  With 2 young kids at home (ages 2 and 4), this is a work in progress for my husband and I.  The only advice I can offer to students in that regard is to choose their spouse wisely.  Thankfully, I did that right.  One of the participants commented that it didn't seem like any of us had any "down time".  I assured her that I had plenty of down time before the kids were born!  For me at least, it's not the job, but the kids (but they're fun in a totally different way).

We had lunch at the gorgeous Meadowbrook Hall, where photos are prohibited.  There are photos and history on their web page.  If you're in the Detroit area, and haven't visited Meadowbrook, it's definitely worth the trip.

Anyhow, the students were great and I really think that they did a good job with the Women in Computing Day.  By pairing each speaker with a student, they gave each student the opportunity to participate in the process (through introductions).  I hope that they had a good time; I certainly did.

Oakland University's REU program

Meadowbrook Hall, on Oakland's campus

Brooklyn Bridges Program
Brooklyn College in City University of New York (also NSF funded)

MTU/IBM offer summer workshop for High School Women

Deadline to apply is May 30!

IBM Sponsored Summer Program in Computing for High School Women at Michigan Technological University

Do you know any high school women who are interested in computing?

IBM is supporting a weeklong workshop for high school girls at Michigan Tech in Houghton, Michigan, June 24-30.  If you know of any young women who are interested in learning more about the field of computing, and who might like to attend this workshop, the deadline is TOMORROW, May 30. Details at http://www.youthprograms.mtu.edu/wics/index.html
For more information, contact Linda Ott (linda@mtu.edu) or call (906-487-2209).

I can and will personally vouch for MTU's summer programs for women, since I attended one (eek!) over 25 years ago now.  Ugh, I wish I hadn't done that math. Anyhow, it's a great program, so if you know of any women who might benefit from attending, please contact them right away.  My recollection is that you pay for your travel to get there, but everything else is covered by a scholarship.  This is a great way for young women to learn about the field of computer science, to meet and interact with other young women who might be interested as well, and also to tour the campus to decide if Michigan Tech is right for them.  I loved it there, and the program is excellent.

Youth Programs for Women in Computing