Computing women meet to network and learn

The congress is a forum to learn some really cool things, but also to network and form bonds with other women in the industry, says organiser

A summer university for women in computer science, the Computing Women Congress (CWC), is being held at the University of Waikato, in Hamilton, this week,

The CWC is a meeting place for female students, academics and professionals, who study or work in IT, says Annika Hinze, one of the organisers and computing science senior lecturer at the University of Waikato.

The courses at the three-day event include web technologies, software development, research skills, career skills, and gender and IT. Each day consists of two three-hour blocks of courses, a keynote speech and a social event in the evening.

The congress is a forum to learn some really cool things, but also to network and form bonds with other women in the industry, says Hinze. The idea behind the congress is to encourage more women to embark on a career in IT, but also to retain the women who are already well into their careers, she says. It is about hearing the stories of others, and sharing knowledge, she says.

The congress aims to provide role models for those early in their computing careers, she adds.

This is the third CWC since 2005. Hinze, who is also the New Zealand ambassador for the women’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), decided to start the congress after having attended a similar one in Europe.

“Most of the women in computer science I know, I met there,” she says.

It was after meeting female professors there that she decided she wanted to study computer science and become a professor herself, she says.

Diane Strode, a PhD student at Victoria University's School of Information Management in Wellington, and Sue Chard, senior lecturer at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, are giving a course on agile methods and test-driven development at the congress. The course will explore the different techniques that make up agile methods and attendees will then try out test-driven development, says Strode.

The second part of the course will be like a workshop, where the group will apply the techniques within a .Net environment, adds Chard.

Benefits of agile developments tend to be improved team-work and the ability to be more flexible when requirements change, says Strode.

Test-driven development is one of the techniques used in Extreme programming, which is one of the agile methods. It is a technique to develop stronger, more robust code, Chard says.

The classes are kept small and informal to encourage interaction. Strode and Chard expect about ten people will attend their course.

Strode has attended the congress twice and found it very useful for networking. The CWC brings together a mix of lecturers, scientists, students and other people in IT, both from the university sector and polytechnic sector, from overseas and from New Zealand, she says. It also covers a range of topics, from project management right down to computer science topics, she adds.

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Tags IT careerDevelopment IDuniversity of waikatocomputing women congress

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