UC’s Women in Technology Club Travels to Harvard University for WECode Conference

By Catie Gross, Marketing and Communications Assistant

The field of information technology is often thought of as a male-driven industry; however, many industry leaders from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Goldman Sachs are women. The student-led WECode (Women Engineers Code) conference held at Harvard University Feb. 7-8 brought women around the nation together to promote women in technology and helped them expand their skills. University of Cincinnati’s School of Information Technology Women in Technology (WIT) Club was one of hundreds of organizations that attended.

WECode consisted of a variety of keynote speakers, workshops, panel discussions, and various activities to inspire women in the technology field and help them keep up-to-date with industry developments, news, and opportunities. Women industry leaders from Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft, Two Sigma, and more were available for hands-on learning and networking.

Michelle Blauman, a third-year information technology major and the Women in Technology club president, was one of five students from CECH who attended WECode.

WIT club members

WIT club members attending WECode

“WECode was a powerful event that included many inspiring speakers,” said Blauman. “My favorite part of the program was listening to Parisa Tabriz speak about being a professional hacker for Google.”

Along with Tabriz, other keynote speakers included Dona Sarkar, an engineering manager at Microsoft and Marie-Louis Kirk, a partner at Goldman Sachs and the head of client-facing engineers for Sales & Trading Americas (FICC).

Other activities that the women could choose from included panel conversations in a variety of topics. Among them: hands-on workshops with companies such as Uber, Strava, and Palantir; 15 minute lightning talks; and a recruiting bootcamp with technical interview practice sessions.

“I was lucky enough to attend one of the workshops with employers from Facebook,” said Blauman. “In this workshop we learned how to re-create the original Facebook through a program called Xcode.”

Another Women in Technology member in attendance was Tessa Wiedmann, a first-year computer engineering major. Wiedmann enjoyed a workshop put on by Jane Street about OCamel, a function-based programming language. “It gave me perspective on different types of programming languages and showed me how easy it would be to learn new languages even with my limited first-year knowledge,” said Wiedmann.

The School of Information Technology’s Women in Technology Club also sat in on a panel conversation discussing big data and participated in a puzzle hunt around Harvard’s campus.

“The puzzle hunt was very difficult because we had to use code to find clues on web pages then run all over Harvard looking for them,” said Blauman. “It really made you think!”

Along with attending WECode, the Women in Technology club also travels to other conferences around the nation and brings guest speakers, such as Cintrifuse and Total Quality Logistics to UC's campus.