The Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS), a national resource for all African-American computer science students and faculty, launches a new podcast in collaboration with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a non-profit that works to increase women’s meaningful participation in computing. Modern Figures Podcast (modernfigurespodcast.com) guest stars Black women in computing who share their stories and perspectives on technical, societal, and personal topics. Geared toward high school and college students, each guest also highlights the interestingly relatable, pivotal moments along their journey in computing.
Best Revenge is Your Paper
From a young age, Pamela Gibbs wanted to know all the things. As an avid reader, her interest in solving the great mysteries of the world and speaking truth to power led her to pursue a career in research (and to spending a lot of time being grounded). It comes at no surprise that she ended up pursuing degrees in several disciplines, giving her a set of broad perspectives and experiences. Today, Pam is pursuing her doctoral degree while working in human factors engineering at Walmart. In this episode, we discuss family, business, banking, diversity, tech, Beyoncé, and more. Join us as she shares what inspires her to continue to learn and grow and how that’s shifted through the years.
Corporate-ish. Identity, Retention: Her Passion, Our Mission.
If you visit Dr. Denae Ford Robinson's website you’ll learn a lot about her. One of the first things you’ll see is that she’s focused on dismantling barriers in computer science. And so are we! Denae is passionate about understanding how identity plays a role in retaining underrepresented people in tech, with a specific research focus on cognitive and social barriers in socio-technical ecosystems. We talk a lot about this and the strategies she’s seen that make a difference, including mentoring, which is just one of the many ways we seek to broaden participation in computing at iAAMCS and NCWIT.Though she’s taken her talents to industry, Denae maintains one foot in the academy. Listen in and learn how you too can pursue publishable research in a corporate environment (which is a big deal for those of us with doctoral degrees).
Working Moms Get The Job Done
Gloria Opoku-Boateng met Kyla at the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. And Kyla knew we had to interview her to share her unique story. She started her computing education in Africa while her father was working as a missionary. In high school, she and her siblings fell in love with technology. And as a result, Gloria decided to pursue computer science in college. Since she stayed in Africa to get her degree, While she didn’t have to contend with racism, she did feel isolated as one of the only women in her classes. But she persevered and went on to obtain 2 masters degrees and a PhD! Gloria’s determination (like doing 10 internships in her PhD program) is on display throughout this episode. She leveraged all her experiences which makes for an interesting career trajectory. Fun fact: Gloria is a Mom to a 7 week old and as this episode drops Jeremy’s baby girl is now 7 weeks!
Educating the Tech Workforce
Here’s a secret: you don’t have to get a degree in computing to have a career in the tech industry. Our next guest has degrees in physics, optical engineering, and engineering education, but none in computing. Today, she works for the oldest technology company in the world! Dr. Lauren Thomas Quigley’s story gives us the perspective that is often shared in engineering classrooms across the country, that completing a degree in engineering teaches you how to solve problems. It’s an algorithm that can be applied in a variety of different domains. Listen in to learn how Lauren’s degrees propelled her towards her career educating the tech workforce. And hear how her mentorship through the National Society of Black Engineers and beyond helped Jeremy accomplish her goals of completing her doctorate in engineering.
Ask Us Anything - Diversity and Inclusion Edition
In late 2019 we asked our followers on social media what they wanted to know. At the time, it was a chance to encourage participation from attendees at the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando in a social media challenge. But after reviewing all of the questions, we realized we should probably dive deeper into our responses. This episode focuses on answering questions related to diversity and inclusion. As Black women, we know what it’s like to exist at the intersection of two underrepresented identities in tech. We leveraged our experiences to share our take on issues relevant to us and the computing field more broadly. Our hope is that one day we’ll see a more representative tech workforce. Until then, we will keep supporting efforts that bring visibility to the need to improve the culture and climate to help broaden participation in computing in a sustainable way.
Do our answers resonate with you? Tell us how using #ModFigsPod.
The Secret Sauce
Dr. Juan Gilbert is passionate about diversifying computer science and the professoriate. He is a first generation college student whose parents instilled in him the value of education. Juan purposefully chose to be a scholar-athlete but by serendipitously became a computer scientist. His attempts to avoid graduate school obviously didn’t pan out and we are so grateful. Learn more about how he developed his model for recruiting underrepresented students, and in particular, black students and how he translated that into the Institute African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences.
I can’t fake humble
Excellent podcast. Very informative and inspiring.
Grateful for the celebration of CURRENT role models
I lead the Rigor and Equity research agenda at CSforALL, and in my work with K-12 children across the US and abroad, being able to make relatable role models visible and real to students, especially students of color and young women, is critically important. I can’t recommend this podcast enough to CS and other STEM educators working to make careers real for their children. You can’t be what you can’t see—I’m grateful to the hosts for helping our students to see a whole lot more!
Fresh and Funny Perspectives
While I expected to learn a lot from this podcast, I did not expect it to be so funny and refreshingly relatable! The hosts are both exceptional and 'normal' in so many ways. I look forward to hearing the voices of Modern Figures in the future.