Could you give us a brief description of the upcoming Women’s Week event?
During our Devathon and other CSE events, we noticed that female students’ participation is less compared to male students. The college ratio is imbalanced; but there should be more girls participating rather than just 10 to 15. Despite providing them with all the facilities, permissions, they are not turning up. We thought it could be a lack of awareness. Somewhere we felt that it was not reaching them. They were not exposed to the environment. They don’t know what type of opportunity they have. So, women’s week is a targeted PR that we are doing to improve the participation of female students. This is to enable them to come out of their shell, interact, and build a community. Thus they can participate actively in events organized by any club or association, not just CSEA. It could contribute to their holistic development and they will know about the opportunities, develop themselves, make friends and learn in a community. It’s not an empowerment sort of thing but it’s just to improve the awareness of events in college.
How did you come up with the plan?
We would like to give the credit to Lean In. Most of the folks who came for CSEA interviews suggested holding events for women. That’s when some of their members came in and told me about Lean In. I was quite fascinated at that point that we had something just for women because there is a lack of networking. That point in the interview was the major step that led to the event. It is for this reason that we collaborated with Lean In so that they get momentum and we could get their help in resources and expertise.
What is the plan of action for this event? How do you plan to go about this?
The idea came in and we created a group for those who were interested in working on it. We all sat down and brainstormed what would work and what wouldn’t. And also it was something to make everyone inclusive, I didn’t want to keep it too technical so that all branches can participate. Our idea was not to keep it too academic, technical, or something related to computer science, we wanted to make it fun. So, we came up with games, puzzles, crosswords, and riddles. Another idea we had was there are already a few applications in place which have added a women-friendly twist to them. For example, Bumble is a spin-off of Tinder. Bumble has this one feature where the girl texts first. So, we thought that on the 2nd day, we could have an event in which you can modify an existing app or build a whole new app that caters to women’s needs. This opens up a lot of fields. The third was to organize a talk so that they know how it is for an independent woman to pay her bills, make a career in a patriarchal society, and give an idea of the opportunities there only for women off campus. So, we just sat down brainstormed ideas, contacted speakers who were available to meet, such as our alumni or seniors.
There are three events. The first is Decipher, which is going to be puzzles and some sort of cryptography goes into that and it’s open to all. Next is the Device, which is about designing applications. And the third is Direction, where we will have a talk with speakers of Lean In , an Alumnus of NITW.
You have mentioned that every woman should participate in these events. How will you make sure that it’s beginner-friendly for every department to participate??
It’s something that PR has to take care of and we’ll make sure that it’s done in the right way. By the name itself, it’s understood that it’s not going to be that technical.
That was also the purpose of collaborating with Lean In. We got the idea to conduct an event and didn’t want to make it intimidating or that bigger deal at the first step.
Do you believe conducting such events improves girls’ participation in coding events?
The main aim of the event is not to promote coding but for them to promote themselves. We see a lot of people who have been active during their school life, but after coming to college they don’t get involved in things due to fear, lack of confidence, or prioritizing academics and considering extracurricular activities as a burden. We want to tell them that it’s not like that, along with academics it’s important for them to develop their personality. This is the first time we are conducting something like this and if it’s successful we may conduct it again in the next year and this time it may reach many people due to word-of-mouth publicity. We are also trying to improve participation with cash prizes and goodies.
Also, on the first day, we have an interactive session with seniors. We are planning to group the participants so that the active girls from different groups can club together.
Why do you think the participation of women in Devathon or coding events is less?
I think the number of women in coding events, communities, and networking groups is less, this may be due to fear or discomfort to come forward. That was also the purpose of collaborating with Lean In. We got the idea to conduct an event and didn’t want to make it intimidating or that bigger deal at the first step. That’s why we are conducting an event exclusively for them. If they are scared then we are there to help them. We want to have separate networking groups for women after the event.
When we talk about girls, we probably think of ourselves. Most of the time we mind our own business. And when it comes to events like this that involve talking and interacting that is way far ahead from what we think. This might be a reason.
(To Lean In)Your say on collaboration with CSEA?
I think it’s a great opportunity for us because though we have a lot of ideas we were unable to put them forward because we do not have many connections. People follow us on our Instagram page as an informal group. They don’t know that we are actually a club and have a faculty advisor too. Concerning connections and networking, CSEA is a good choice. Lean In, being a new club, we need to reach out to people and tell them what exactly the club is. CSEA is being looked up to by people, when we collaborate with them it’s a hundred percent guaranteed publicity for us.
Can you just tell us a few words about the speaker?
The speaker is Ms. Padma Kuppa, an alumnus of our college from 1998. She is currently representing Michigan’s 41st House District which encompasses the cities of Troy and Clawson thereby becoming the first Indian immigrant and Hindu in the US State Legislature. Before entering Politics, she also had a very successful run as Project manager and Business Analyst with a career spanning the higher education, marketing, automotive, financial and IT sectors. I think that’s enough of an introduction for her. You’ll get to know more during the talk.