Maryland Center for Women in Computing to Host Inaugural Diversity in Computing Summit

Topics ranging from retaining high-tech women in the workplace to professional development and creating a unique personal brand will be discussed at a one-day summit set for Nov. 7, 2016, at the University of Maryland.

The inaugural Diversity in Computing Summit, presented by the Maryland Center for Women in Computing (MCWIC), will be held at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. The organizers invite all advocates of groups underrepresented in computing fields to attend.

Through informative workshops and dynamic speakers, the summit will emphasize inclusive computing—efforts that address the positive impact that underrepresented groups have and will continue to have on the future of technology.

“We are very excited about this inaugural event,” says Jan Plane, director of MCWIC and a principal lecturer in the UMD Department of Computer Science. “We are hoping this summit will bring everyone to the table—from those working to diversify K-12 computing education to professionals navigating technical careers. The summit will give attendees an opportunity to create conversations, raise awareness around a variety of concerns and initiatives in the industry, and have a positive impact on underrepresented groups in computing.”

The keynote address will be given by Ruthe Farmer, senior policy advisor for tech inclusion at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who focuses on President Obama’s “Computer Science for All” and other tech-related initiatives.

Over the course of her career, Farmer has successfully launched and scaled up multiple national programs including Intel Design & Discovery, National Center for Women & Information Technology Aspirations in Computing, the TECHNOLOchicas campaign for Latinas in technology, the AspireIT computing outreach program and more. She served as the 2012 chair of Computer Science Education Week, was named a White House Champion of Change for Technology Inclusion in 2013, and received the Anita Borg Institute Award for Social Impact in 2014 and the Education UK Alumni Award for Social Impact in 2015. 

Chris Stephenson, head of computer science education programs at Google, will be featured as the plenary speaker. Working on the education research team, Stephenson leads the strategy and execution for computer science education projects, collaborating closely with internal Google teams and external computer science organizations. Stephenson has chaired the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) K-12 Task Force and served as president of the International Society for Technology in Education’s Special Interest Group for Computer Science. She currently serves on the ACM Education Board, the ACM Education Policy Committee and is a senior member of ACM.

The summit will also include a number of breakout sessions that will be led by tech professionals, including UMD faculty members. The sessions will follow four tracks: Developing a Diverse Corporate Culture, Emerging Technology, The Future of Computing: Trends in Policy and Outreach, and Career Development and Personal Advocacy. Talks include: 

  • Tech for Good: Haila Asanaenyi, manager of the Anita Borg Institute, will discuss the importance of cultivating young leaders—students and young professionals—to build technology that has a positive impact on the world. 
  • It’s Not All About You: Gina Dolin, director of CPA Global, will speak about the “Impostor Syndrome”—when high-achieving individuals are unable to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”—and how to shift focus to finding people who will help you achieve your goals and provide support. 
  • Retaining High Tech Women Once They’re in the Door: Women are underrepresented in the technology field and leave at a rate 30 percent higher than men. In response, companies are taking recruiting steps, but knowing what women need to thrive is key to retaining them. Karen Holtzblatt, a UMD research scientist in the College of Information Studies and CEO of InContext Design, will share a framework defining dimensions of work-life balance based on qualitative and quantitative research. She will also share intervention ideas and engage participants in a discussion of how to address these issues.

Summit sponsors are Amazon Web Services, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Northrop Grumman, and PayPal.

Exhibitors include Amazon Web Services, Capital One, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Google, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences, Lockheed Martin, National Institutes of Health, Northrop Grumman, Palantir, PayPal, ValidaTek, and the Washington Post. 

All proceeds raised from the summit will be used to support MCWIC programs.

For more information on the Diversity in Computing Summit and to register, visit

Members of the media can attend this event at no charge, but should register in advance. Reporters wanting to speak about the Diversity in Computing Summit beforehand can contact the Maryland Center for Women in Computing by calling 301-405-7615 or by emailing Director Jan Plane at or Coordinator Kate Atchison at

Written by Melissa Brachfeld

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.