Trinity takes a seat for women in computing


Dr. Mark Lewis

“Sometimes you have to sit to take a stand.”

This is the slogan of the Sit With Me initiative sponsored by the National Center for Women & IT.

Last week, the Trinity University Women in Computing Club (TUWIC) hosted a Red Chair Campaign, joining in the spirit of the Sit With Me national initiative to raise awareness about the lack of women in computing and information technology fields. The club encouraged people to stop by their location next to the Magic Stones, take a picture in their red chair and learn more about the cause.

“You can sit down in the chair to take a stand for women in computing, and the chair represents the seats at the table that women don’t have in the technology industry right now. It’s kind of symbolic in multiple ways,” said sophomore Kylie Moden, president and founder of the Trinity University Women in Computing Club. “By sitting in the chair and getting your photo taken, you are showing that you do care about this topic and that you want to encourage younger girls to go into the field.”

The Sit With Me initiative’s symbol is a bright red chair made from recycled Coke bottles, designed to have exceptional strength and last for 150 years. Paul Myers, professor and chair of the computer science department and faculty advisor for the club, purchased one of the red chairs for TUWIC to use at their meetings and events.

“At Trinity, as at most other places, there are few women who major in computer science,” Myers said. “The Red Chair Campaign is a chance to call attention to this dismal state of affairs and to try to generate awareness, interest and enthusiasm for women who might still be open to the idea of studying computer science.”

TUWIC also hosted a reception in the Skyline Room on Nov. 13 with a silent auction and invited local technology companies and Trinity faculty and staff. Last Saturday, the club hosted a miniature hackathon in the Center for Sciences and Innovation to teach application development and allow people to code freely.

The club has created a new big/little program, known as “Wicsters,” to encourage women to major in computer science. A younger female computer science major is paired with an older female computer science major, who will provide guidance and support.

“This program gives new students a mentor to talk to so that they understand that many of the upperclassmen didn’t entirely grasp everything the first semester either. We encourage students not to give up on the computer science major,” said Kat Fischer, junior computer science major.

The Red Chair Campaign had over 150 Trinity students, faculty and staff stop by their table to sit in the red chair and take a picture to spread awareness.

“Having groups like this really helps you stay within the field because there is someone you can truly relate to,” Moden said. “That is really what it all comes down to when you are a minority in technology or anything else””that you feel isolated””but you have a group you can come to and be like, “˜I am not alone in this.'”