The CSSociety was proud to host its first ever Girls in Tech Conference (GIT) in March 2016. GIT is an annual 1-day conference dedicated to exposing high school girls to the many areas of tech. A large number of the expected ~100 curious young girls come from underprivileged or diverse backgrounds and for many, GIT will be their first look into coding, engineering, and entrepreneurship. GIT is proud to be a non-profit event with a non-discriminatory acceptance policy that requires no prior experience or academic thresholds to attend.
HackHolyoke is an inclusive, 200-person hackathon that strives to unite young innovators from a variety of backgrounds. We believe that HackHolyoke is a 24-hour slice of what the world should look like as our generation uses technology to improve society and the economy: a diverse collection of motivated, curious, creative individuals, who are excited to collaborate on solutions to the problems found in various fields. We achieve this goal at previous iterations of HackHolyoke, where ~53% of attendees identified as women, and well over half were first-time hackers. Seasoned coders are also encouraged at HackHolyoke and have been well-represented in the past.
CSSociety introduced the Megas & Gigas program in the fall of 2014 and has since revised its structure. Since Spring 2016, CS students are placed into small groups with one upperclassman in CS (Giga) and multiple underclassmen. The role of the upperclassman is to foster a supportive culture that facilitates open dialogues amongst the students. These groups, known as Megas & Gigas Mentorship Circles, gather together a couple times a semester in the spirit of Lean-In circles.
In collaboratin with departments on campus, CSSoc will host periodical technical interview and resume workshops to help computing students succeed in applying for internships, REUs, employment, and graduate school.
If you are a recruiter and are interested in meeting our students, please email us.
CSSociety also helps coordinate student transportation, lodging, and registration for various technical conferences and hackathons throughout the year. We attend such conferences as the Grace Hopper Conference, the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, and the New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium. We work diligently to help support the financial aspects of conference attendance, especially for conferences like Grace Hopper--which are invaluable experiences for our students.
We also attend and succeed at such hackathons as Hack the North, PennApps, Y Hack, HackUMass, and weCode at Harvard.
As students at a small all-women's liberal arts college (Mount Holyoke College), we understand the systemic challenges that impede gender equality in the sciences. From experiencing it first-hand at co-ed conferences and hackathons, we believe that we have a responsibility to combat the pervasive culture in computer science that is often dismissive of women. We aim to build an environment that is supportive of and is concentrated with powerful, capable, and confident women engineers.
This fall 2014, CSSociety is inaugurating a mentorship program called Megas/Gigas, which pairs senior and junior computer science students with students in MHC CS's intro class to the major, CS101, and with first years in CS201. The program officially begins at the start of the semester with a "Clue Week," when mentorship pairs will be made, and Gigas will give clues to their Megas as to whom they may be. The week culminates in a mentorship gala, when Gigas will reveal themselves to their Megas and invited distinguished speakers will give remarks on the importance of mentorship and community, especially in computing fields.
Throughout the semester, we hope to foster the mentorship relationships through planned and informal bonding socials like dinners, field trips, and in-house mini-hackathons, called HackNights. By pairing younger students with experienced hackathoners, we can create opportunities that will allow younger students with limited programming knowledge to make the most of the experience and learn from their older peers. HackNights are short technical workshops that will teach students technical skills outside of class, collaborate with other older students, get advice from their Giga, and encourage them to work on independent projects. By framing these workshops as Mega-Giga events, we hope that Gigas can personally share their experiences and advice with their Megas and help the latter start building the skills they will need to apply for technical internships and research opportunities.
In May 2014, CSSociety won a grant from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Student Seed Fund to help support the mentorship program.
As the mentorship programs build community on campus, CSSociety also hopes to foster community off-campus. In November, CSSociety will host and invite a panel of Mount Holyoke alumnae now working in technology. Either virtually or physically, we hope to invite a diverse group of alumnae working in such fields as software and hardware engineering, finance, consulting, and research. This event is particularly designed to help students explore the wide applications of a computer science degree and to help enrich the connections between alumnae and students.
In October, we will host our annual MakerJam-- an embedded systems hackathon, where students can create prototypes of their own invention and ingenuity. The hackathon welcomes the Five Colleges as well as students from the Seven Sister Schools.
If you are interested in sponsoring MakerJam, please send us an email.
This fall, CSSociety is piloting a middle school outreach program, where CSSociety members will visit local middle schools and introduce them to the fun of engineering and math through fun electronics workshops. By bringing fun and easy projects to students in the critical period when many students decide their future pursuit in math and science, we hope to change the prevalent pre-conceived notions of computer science and draw more young girls into the field.