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Finished Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher. I found this to be simultaneously a very important book and a rather dull book. I would have found the book fascinating 5 years ago. But now I have spent a summer at CMU interacting with the women@scs group; I have seen Jane Margolis speak twice (once with Allan Fisher); I have seen many other wonderful speakers talk about women in computing; I have given miniature versions of such talks myself. The material in this book has become such a part of my life, such a part of how I relate to my field of choice, that actually reading the material felt a little redundant.

Thus, if you are at all interested in issues of gender and computing (and if you are in the field of computing, you ought to be), you should read this book. If you are really interested in issues of gender and computing, you should read it earlier rather than later because you will have to read it eventually, and the sooner you read it, the more novel the material will be.

(I am now excited to read Margolis's latest book, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing, because I am not very familiar with issues of race in the computing field.)
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For your viewing pleasure, my UW interview workshop handout. Feel free to adapt it for your own interview workshops and mock interviews or feel free to learn from it if you are doing interviews. The notes are high level to make the handout short; feel free to ask me if you want more detail on anything.
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There is going be a speaker series in the Kirkland/Seattle Google offices. Speakers for Q1 are below. Let me know if you want to be invited to any of these talks.

  • January 24th - Kirkland office: Wendy Seltzer Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Visiting Professor, Northeastern University School of Law will be speaking on Expectations of Privacy for a Database Age

  • February 21st - Seattle office: Kirsten Foote - Associate Professor at the University of Washington will be speaking on Web Archives & Interfaces for Social Studies of Online Action

  • March 20th - Kirkland office: Helen Greiner - Co-founder and CEO of iRobot- topic coming soon.

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Are standard university educations doing students a disservice by only focusing on coding style in one or two classes? It would be extremely annoying to have your grade in PL, AI, or HCI (and even non-acronym classes) depend on coding style, but it would also be of great help to students once they get to industry and have annoying people like me looking at their code.

I expect that the largest impediment is more practical. Being consistent about grading assignments on style requires a lot more time than just grading based on correctness. This is especially true in courses where students have their choice of language for solving problems. Consistently grading on style becomes nearly impossible when grading for an open ended project course where students get to choose both the project and the language.

What are ways that an emphasis on good coding style can be extended beyond one or two courses without putting too much of a burden on the students or TAs of classes whose main focus is not programming?
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The 2006 Turing award winner and first woman Turing award winner is Emeritus IBM Fellow Fran Allen for her work on compiler optimizations. More information can be found here and here. Hurrah for her!


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Erika RS

May 2012

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