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Last modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007

IU computing group promotes diversity in IT at state educators’ conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 10, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the record, the Women in Computing at Indiana University group wants you to know that computing education and careers are not for geeks only.

That's the message WIC@IU, an IU School of Informatics-sponsored organization, is taking to the Indiana Computer Educators conference, Jan. 26, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. The annual event draws more than 2,000 educators, technology experts and exhibitors from around the state to learn about the latest technology and trends and how they can be adapted to Hoosier classrooms.

WIC@IU members will demonstrate their Just Be K-12 program, a free and interactive "road show" the group often has presented to middle- and high-school students throughout Indiana. Participants use remote control clickers to vote on polls addressing stereotypes commonly held about computing and related careers.

Suzanne Menzel

Suzanne Menzel

"They usually conjure up images of a male, socially-challenged nerd working in isolation at a computer," says Suzanne Menzel, senior lecturer in computer science. "We show them pictures of real computer people at work, at play, and that they can just be themselves and still be computing professionals."

Joining Menzel in the Just Be presentation at ICE are Laura Hopkins of the School's Department of Computer Science, graduate student Tonya Stroman and undergraduate Jennifer Trueblood.

The workshop will define the ever-evolving computing disciplines, identify what students and teachers need to know about IT-related careers and research, and describe the need for racial and gender diversity.

Just Be student volunteers have presented to thousands of students throughout the Midwest, as well as at local and national conferences. The program was inspired by the Roadshow, created at Carnegie Mellon University by women in computing who similarly promote that academic discipline.

More information about WIC@IU and Just Be is available at http://www.cs.indiana.edu/cgi-pub/wic/index.php.