Hello, everyone, and let me join Provost Robel and Maureen Biggers in welcoming you to our third Annual Techie Women Have More Conference and to tonight’s dinner, which I hope you’ve enjoyed.
From the sound of the conversations tonight and the general level of energy in the room, I know it’s been a terrific day and tomorrow promises to be the same. I want to thank all of the presenters for your contributions to such a stellar program, and all of you, the attendees, for making it fun and engaging.
I’d especially like to welcome our first-time attendees and encourage you to share your experiences along with taking full advantage of this year’s program.
Through Techie Women Have More and CEWiT’s other activities, you have many excellent opportunities to share your techie passions and interests—no matter your skill-level, discipline, career stage or background.
I also want to join Provost Robel is thanking Jenny Hertel, Maureen Biggers and the rest of the conference team for their superb work in organizing this conference. I know Maureen has already recognized members of our wonderful Advisory Council and the leaders of our four alliances, but I want to also extend my personal thanks for your invaluable leadership and guidance.
Finally, I want to thank all the men in the room—and those not here—who are our allies and advocates. Diversity in technology is about everyone, not just women, and we are grateful for your participation.
When we launched CEWiT in October of 2013, we knew that it would take some time for awareness and involvement to build, but both have happened more quickly than we dared hope. This is of course enormously gratifying and gives us all plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future.
Increasing the numbers of women in computing and technology is fundamental to CEWiT’s mission. But CEWiT is also committed to what I believe is a larger and more visionary goal: empowering and motivating women so they want to remain in tech and computing and persist in their use of and fluency with technology in whatever field they choose.
We know from a lot of research and our own experiences that it takes intentional effort to break down stereotypes, and ensure that old habits and patterns don’t further embed harmful preconceptions about what it takes to master technical skills and participate fully in the knowledge economy of the 21st century.
CEWiT is in the vanguard of IU’s intentional efforts to increase women’s engagement with technology, and it’s imperative that we do, because we need more technology-proficient people in every sector of the economy and in every discipline at IU, and the tech sector needs women as well as underrepresented minorities to ensure that the intellectual and material products of our work are responsive to our diverse and interconnected society.
CEWiT’s integrated approach sets us apart from other programs focused on supporting women in technology fields. Our pioneering model is one that reaches across disciplines, career paths and life stages to strengthen and ensure inclusivity for women who are interested in technology at Indiana University and beyond.
And our four alliance groups of students, staff, faculty and alumnae—themselves each active and productive communities of women—are testimony to how deeply women want to engage with technology and with each other.
All four alliances are expanding and also increasingly working together on many projects and activities from the leadership development and job shadowing projects across all eight IU campuses—that are sponsored by CEWiT’s Staff Alliance, IUWIT—to the sponsorship by our Student Alliance, WESIT (or Women Empowering Success in Technology).
They are working on activities like speed mentoring, game design and social media workshops, and they are collaborating with IU-WIT on the job shadowing program.
They are increasingly working together from the Faculty Alliance’s successful and growing CEWiT Mentoring Circles, of which there are now 14, and the networking and learning opportunities available through CEWiT Salons—our longest-standing program—to the CEWiT Emerging Scholars Research Experiences program mentioned by Provost Robel that brings faculty and students together.
Our alliances are expanding from the development of mentoring relationships between CEWiT-affiliated students and our growing Alumnae Alliance, to our new CEWiT special interest groups led by teams of student interns who are launching their connected learning communities, and much, much, more. Women across the Bloomington campus and beyond are collaborating, educating and inspiring each other.
CEWiT’s Campus Role
In less than three years, CEWiT has built a transformative community at IU, and is rapidly becoming an essential part of IU’s future. And that future, as IU approaches its third century in 2020, is increasingly organized around the very things that CEWiT encourages and celebrates.
Recent academic and campus developments have placed new emphasis on, for example, deepening the academic integration of technology with media and journalism, as we saw in the creation of the Media School two years ago; on the importance of design and design thinking, so central to successful tech products like the iPhone, which we see in our most recently approved School of Art and Design; and on nurturing a culture of building and making, expressed in the establishment just last fall of IU’s very first engineering program.
And perhaps most important, Indiana University—under the leadership of Provost Robel, President McRobbie and many others—is deeply committed to sustaining a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. CEWiT is uniquely positioned to be an integral part of all these efforts, creating connections across campus and ensuring that diversity and inclusion are built into each of them from the very beginning.
We are successful because of techie women like you, so on behalf of CEWiT, thank you. All of us here tonight can, and I know will, create a stronger university and a better world by encouraging, supporting, linking and celebrating women in technology.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Avis Yates Rivers as our keynote speaker tonight.
With more than 30 years of general management experience in the information technology industry and nearly as many years as a successful entrepreneur, Ms. Yates Rivers is a trailblazer and champion for women in technology, and a role model for all of us.
She is the President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC, an information technology solutions provider and full-service equipment leasing firm. Prior to establishing her first company in 1985, Ms. Yates Rivers enjoyed an 11-year career at Exxon Corporation and its subsidiaries, rising to the rank of Account Executive. She has worked tirelessly to increase the development and utilization of minority and women-owned businesses in both the public and private sectors.
She has held leadership positions in various supplier diversity advocacy organizations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women Presidents' Educational Organization, the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, the Newark Regional Business Partnership and the BPU Supplier Diversity Development Council.
Ms. Yates Rivers is a staunch advocate for increasing girls’ and women’s participation in Information Technology. She is a Director of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), and she was recently honored as a White House Champion of Change in STEM.
Please join me in welcoming Avis Yates Rivers.