‘Women in Blue’ celebrates females in tech, welcomes new IST students

Angela Miller, director of recruiting for the College of Information Sciences and Technology, addresses prospective students on April 8. Credit: Erin Cassidy Hendrick / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Faculty, staff and students in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) gathered on April 8 for the inaugural “Women in Blue” celebration, where newly admitted female students from around the country were able to experience the college’s commitment to empowering women in the technology field.

Following an Accepted Students Program on campus, guests joined the “Women in IST” (WIST) student group to attend a resource fair in the HUB-Robeson Center, which highlighted the opportunities and support resources available to Penn State students. Attendees then spent the afternoon in the IST Building participating in coding, logic, and critical-thinking activities led by WIST and Girls Who Code. The evening concluded with a reception and dinner for guests and their families, featuring remarks from women in IST and other speakers.

“This event is not only a fantastic way to showcase the amazing women already a part of the IST community, but is also a way for us to welcome our female undergraduates to the program and showcase all the unique opportunities we offer,” said Angela Miller, director of IST’s Office of Undergraduate Recruiting and one of the event’s organizers.

“It was amazing meeting all these girls today who are in the same boat as me,” said Casey Wawrzyniak, a high school senior from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who will be starting as an IST major this fall. Casey attended the event with her mother, Lisa, who added, “I can’t say enough good things about IST. [After this event,] Casey is even more excited to attend school!”

After the Accepted Students Program, which included a demonstration of a programmable autonomous humanoid robot used in IST’s Human-Robot Interactions course, the guests attended a dinner reception at the Nittany Lion Inn. With presentations from student organizations and a keynote speech from Jessica Burke, executive director of customer experience strategy and operations at Comcast, attendees heard firsthand accounts of IST’s continued commitment to empowering women.

The event was organized by IST’s Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement (OIDE), and was sponsored by Deloitte, Ernst and Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers to support promising young women in the technology field.

“Aside from demonstrating what these remarkable young women can accomplish at IST, it was wonderful to see how excited they were to start their future at Penn State,” said Jason Gines, director of OIDE. 

During his remarks at the reception, Gines invoked Anita Borg, esteemed computer scientist and a pioneer of gender diversity in the field. He explained to the prospective students, “By joining IST, you’ll help realize Anita Borg’s dream of achieving 50 percent of women in technology by 2020.”

 “This is an incredibly important event for the college, and we only expect it to grow as the gender gap in the IT world continues to shrink,” Andrew Sears, dean of IST, said at the reception.

“By spending time with our female IST faculty, staff and current students, these young women here tonight are seeing what it’s like to be successful in this field,” Miller said. “We are excited to welcome so many talented students and hope to follow their accomplishments here at IST.”

Last Updated May 15, 2017