Course investigates history of women and technology

This semester, Jennifer Henderson, professor and chair of the communication department, received the grant from the Martha, David and Bagby Lennox Foundation to run the Lennox seminar and lecture series titled “Women and Technology.”

“The idea kind of grew out of a concern for the fact that women are disproportionately underrepresented in technology fields,” Henderson said. “These fields include many of the traditional fields we think about””computer science, computer programming, startups””but also fields in the sciences and with anything that involves having your hands on technology.”

Though the course is listed as a special topic in communication, students from all disciplines were invited to enroll.

“The course is really investigating the history of women’s interactions with technology, what’s going on contemporarily in terms of education of girls and women about these fields, as well as what’s happening in terms of mentoring programs,” Henderson said.

For funding, the Lennox seminar requires that outside speakers be brought to campus and that something is left behind by the seminar. In the past, seminars have created books and written a series of journal articles that came out of the lectures.

“Our class has decided to do a website this year instead,” Henderson said. “It will be interactive, with video content, interviews and historical photographs, with the idea that it can be used for other educational programs in the future.”

Several speakers from the field will be presenting during the seminar over the course of the semester. In addition to speakers during the seminar class, six evening speakers will be lecturing on topics related to women and technology and are open to the public. Henderson is excited about this opportunity to spend an entire semester discussing such an important issue.

“The final project for the class is to provide real world solutions to this problem, so it’ll be great to see what some of those solutions are,” Henderson said. “I’m excited about the fact that the project isn’t just discussing the topic over and over again, but in the end we’ll have solutions.”