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Allen School celebrates diversity and inclusion

Grace Hopper attendees
Allen School representatives at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

As a community committed to diversity and inclusion, the Allen School celebrates and values differences in its members. Yesterday (Oct. 10), the School held its annual diversity in computing reception, a favorite event highlighting the School’s broadening participation in organizations that honor diversity in computing.

Students, faculty and staff that attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing  earlier in October and the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing in late September were recognized.

The Grace Hopper Celebration, held this year in Orlando, Florida, is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists and focuses on helping women grow, learn and develop to their highest potential.

Tapia conference attendees
Allen School attendees at the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing.

“I loved attending Grace Hopper this year. So many of the talks were so inspiring and gave me hands-on tools to approach challenges I face as a woman in tech. It was a big confidence booster, and I had the chance to meet so many amazing women in my field,” said Amanda Baughan, a graduate student in the Allen School. “It’s inspired me to tackle more difficult problems and reach for goals I may have second-guessed my own abilities in achieving previously.”

Aishwarya Mandyam
Jodi Tims, Chair of ACM-W; Allen School student Aishwarya Mandyam; Vidya Srinivasan and Sheila Tejada, co-chairs of the Grace Hopper Celebration.

Allen School student Aishwarya Mandyam was honored at the Hopper Celebration for her work, winning second place internationally in the ACM Student Research Competition.

The Tapia Celebration, held in San Diego this year, brings together people of all backgrounds, abilities and genders to recognize, celebrate and promote diversity in computing.

“I got to learn about thriving opportunities for a diverse workforce in tech and discovered it as a great platform for me to completely embrace distinct identities of myself–a woman of color, a first-gen college student, an immigrant with all transitioning struggles bolstered–and was able to find my own ground in this highly challenging field,” said Radia Karim, a junior in the Allen School. “I was really moved by the conference’s agenda and with the extremely bold and diverse Tapia attendees who have been consistently defining their own footprints in tech rising above all odds and making the future more welcoming.”

Recognizing those in attendance at these conferences, Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in the Allen School, said that the two conferences highlight the School’s core values and its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“The Allen School has been widely recognized as a leader in promoting gender diversity in computing. In addition to our strides in our student body, I want to note that over the past 9 years, our faculty has grown by 29, and 15 of these are women – an amazing record for which Hank Levy deserves a great deal of credit,” he said. “In the past few years we’ve dramatically increased the attention we devote to underrepresented minority students and students from low-income backgrounds, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

The Allen School has partnered with the College of Engineering’s STARS program and the state’s AccessCSforAll; students from both were also recognized.

Kimberly Ruth
Lisa Simonyi Prize recipient Kim Ruth and incoming Allen School Director Magda Balazinska.

During the reception, Kimberly Ruth, an Allen School senior, was awarded the Lisa Simonyi Prize. The prize was established by Lisa and Charles Simonyi, for students who exemplify the commitment to excellence, leadership, and diversity to which the School aspires. Ruth is an exceptionally talented and dedicated student. She is a member of UW’s Interdisciplinary Honors program and is a dual major in computer engineering and mathematics. Not only is she engaged in research with Allen School professors Franziska Roesner and Tadayoshi Kohno in the Security & Privacy Lab, but she has also been awarded the 2018 Goldwater Scholarship and the 2017 Washington Research Foundation Fellowship. She has served as a tutor for four years in a program that teaches math and Python programming to middle and high school students and founded Go Figure, an initiative to get middle school students excited about math. Last year, she was named a “Husky 100,” an annual program that honors UW students who are impacting the University community positively.

As professor and next director of the Allen School Magdalena Balazinska noted when she presented the award to Ruth, “In a program full of remarkable students, Kim stands out.”

Thanks to the Simonyi’s for supporting diversity and excellence, and thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the people who are making our school and our field a more welcoming destination for all. And congratulations to Kim!

For more about our efforts to advance diversity in computing, check out the Allen School’s inclusiveness statement here.