Women, Pedagogy, and Technology: A Talk at Pitzer College

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The Women, Pedagogy, and Technology talk was an event I heard about in my Feminist Dialogue on Technology class, and I was absolutely thrilled to attend.  It started with Alex Juhasz talking about the need to cross the lines dividing us, including campus lines (this was a 5C event).  Then, the President of Pitzer discussed the need to temper digital interactions with human interactions.  After their speeches, I was lucky enough to sit with President Klawe of Harvey Mudd (a woman who has done wonderful things for women in STEMs and who I look up to as an inspiration).  Some of my first words to her were ‘Something something Lean In, although that’s not a movement I agree with or am fond of’, to which her response was ‘Oh, why?  Sheryl Sandberg is a friend of mine’.  Luckily she honestly wanted to hear my opinion on it (long story short, I don’t think Sheryl Sandberg is radical or deconstructivist enough, and rather supporting and playing into the patriarchy), to which Klawe responded that she was once as radical as I was, and understood where I was coming from.  We talked extensively about education, women in tech, and leveling the playing field.  She seemed interested in my efforts with Scripps Women in Technology, and offered to be a speaker.  She is honestly someone I look up to and would like to emulate in terms of her efforts to works towards increasing representation of women in stems

The next part of the program involved breaking into groups to discuss mentors, networks, or teaching.  I chose the mentor group, where we talked about the pros and cons of serendipitous mentor/mentee pairing, structured pairings, and solutions/compromises between the two.  Serendipitous usually means better dynamics between the mentor/mentee because it’s not forced and controlled, but often leaves out people who don’t have initiative or luck.  Structured gets more of the shy individuals, but even then participants can feel alienated by being forced to meet at certain times, do certain things, even if they don’t particularly mesh with their mentor.  What might be a possible solution is training potential mentors to be more out about their identities/things mentees could empathize with (socioeconomic, sexual orientation, race, culture, etc.) so that mentees can find them, as well as training mentees how to find mentors, and what they should ask from their mentors.  As I am only a junior, I remember all too well what it was like to be a first year, and to feel that everything I did was an imposition, regardless of the fact that the colleges tried to put together so many support options for me.  In our group, we talked a bit about impostor syndrome, which to me seems a very possible reason so many people have trouble finding mentors.  Unless mentors are outright explicit in their desire to mentor, potential mentees may feel like the mentor is just being nice at that moment, rather than the mentor wanting to form a long-term connection.

Finally, we all headed to the Pitzer auditorium to listen to different speeches on various parts of technology and education.  It was a wonderful lunch and discussion, and the powerpoint presentations in the auditorium gave me a lot of food for thought.  I hope Pitzer/the 5Cs continue to create events like these, and look forward to how much more I have to learn.

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About Alicen Lewis

Find me on BaiRabbit.wordpress.com! Archived Blog: Previously a summer intern for the startup incubator Idealab, during the school year I am also on the board of the Scripps College Professionals Network, Team Leader and Head Web Designer for Scripps College IT for Faculty, and President of Scripps Women in Technology. My previous experience includes working Digital New Media with Geek & Sundry, a Los Angeles Commercial YouTube company.

Posted on November 18, 2013, in Claremont, Technology, US and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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