organize new information technology group
young women at UW-Eau Claire who say they are part of an underrepresented
but important part of the nation's future high-tech workforce
are doing something to change that by starting a new student organization:
Women in Information Technology Systems or WITS.
Officially recognized as a new campus
organization this fall, group members began meeting and planning last
spring with the encouragement of their faculty adviser, Janet Quarderer,
senior lecturer in the computer science department.
"It can be pretty intimidating
for a freshman woman to walk into a class of 100 students and see
only three or four other women," said senior Karissa O'Keefe,
president of WITS.
The other WITS officers, all senior
computer science majors — vice president Theresa Steffen, secretary
Jolene Stoel, and treasurer Cindy Johnson — agreed.
"Only a few women declared themselves
as computer science majors this fall and without some support from
other women they'll probably feel as intimidated as we did,"
WITS is aiming to offer that support
and encouragement to women interested in studying computer science
and related high-tech fields like MIS and software engineering. They
are planning activities and projects, both social and educational,
to help women gain self-confidence, and particularly "computer
confidence," by exposing them to mentors and role models through
speakers and company tours and by offering them a group of like-minded
women with whom they can socialize, study and pursue professional
All four of the WITS officers said they
had not felt particularly encouraged to study computer science in
high school, and as a result, they all felt somewhat behind the men
when they first declared themselves as computer science majors at
"But the faculty here was very
supportive and told us not to worry if the guys seemed to know a bit
more already about specific things like HTML coding because they'd
participated in male-dominated computer and game clubs in high school,"
said Steffen. "They told us they'd teach us what we needed
to know, and we'd compete just fine and in many cases do even
Nevertheless, WITS members would like
to see girls in elementary school and young women in high school encouraged
to feel just as comfortable and confident about computer technology
by the time they reach college as young men entering the field. The
officers said they would be interested in going into local schools
to do demonstrations or to encourage girls to form their own computer
clubs, and they will be exploring ideas for those types of activities
at future meetings.
Quarderer said it's been a privilege
working with the women and helping them start WITS.
"Several of them mentioned their
ideas about starting a women's group and I just coordinated
the first meeting to get it started. It's fun working with intelligent,
competitive, hardworking young women," Quarderer said. "
They are role models everyone can respect."
Russ Feingold to speak at UW-Eau Claire
The UW-Eau Claire chapter of Amnesty International will
host U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold for a Human Rights Day forum at 7
p.m. Thursday, Dec.12, in Schofield Auditorium.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, Feingold works to make human rights concerns a higher priority
in U.S. foreign policy. The Human Rights Day forum is an annual event
held to honor the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of Human
Rights and the founding of Amnesty International. Feingold will speak
on "The Importance of Human Rights Since September 11th."
The forum will be followed by a short reception.
Feingold was first elected to the U.S.
Senate in 1992. In 1998, after keeping his historic pledge to limit
his campaign spending to $1 per voter, and disallowing party soft
money from being spent on his behalf, Feingold won a second term.
The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Trever
Hagen at email@example.com, or Rita Webb at 836-3259.
In Brief Calendar
of Events Faculty/Staff News
Liz Wolf Green, Editor
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
· Diane Walkoff,
Editorial Assistant ·
December 9, 2002