(What We Can Learn from the) Canaries in the Computer Science Coal Mine
Speaker: Lenore Blum , Carnegie Mellon University
Date: April 10 2008
Time: 4:00PM to 5:30PM
Contact: Colleen Russell, 3-0145, email@example.com
A recent NY Times article quotes me as saying, “women are the canaries in the coal mine,” in reference to the current “crisis” of dwindling student interest in computer science. By that I meant factors that dissuade women from entering the field play a more fundamental role in dissuading everyone than local perceptions of a bad job market. Key factors include the narrow image of the field and its participants and the fact that, for the most part, the US is in the dark ages with regard to K-16 CS education. I will amplify these assertions and give examples of programs here and abroad that have merit both with respect to enriching the field of computer science itself and viewing computer science within the broader enterprise –scientific, intellectual and beyond.
Lenore Blum is Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon where she co-Directs the ALADDIN Center for Algorithm Adaptation, Dissemination and Integration and is faculty advisor to the student organization, Women@SCS. She received her Ph.D. in mathematics from M.I.T. in 1968 (the same year Princeton first allowed women to enter their graduate program). In 2005, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring for her over 35 years of creating programs to increase the participation of women in scientific and technical fields including the Math/Science Network and its flagship Expanding Your Horizons conferences for middle school girls. Lenore taught at UC Berkeley, founded the Mills College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science (the first CS department at a women’s college) was senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, and Deputy Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Her research, from her early work in model theory and differential fields (logic and algebra) to her more recent work in developing a theory of computation and complexity over the real numbers (mathematics and computer science), has focused on merging seemingly unrelated areas. She has served the professional community in numerous capacities including as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics, vice-President of the American Mathematical Society and is currently a member of the MIT Mathematics Department Visiting Committee. Her most recent creation and passion is Project Olympus, a high tech innovation center at Carnegie Mellon. Lenore’s husband (Manuel) and son (Avrim) are also mathematicians and computer scientists and MIT alums.
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