The CSSociety was proud to host its first ever Girls in Tech Conference (GIT) in March 2016. GIT is an annual 1-day conference dedicated to exposing local high school girls to the many facets of tech. These curious young women come from diverse backgrounds, and for many, GIT will expose them to coding, engineering, and entrepreneurship for the first time. GIT is proud to be a non-profit event with a non-discriminatory acceptance policy that requires no prior experience or academic thresholds to attend.
HackHolyoke is an inclusive, 200-person hackathon that strives to unite young innovators from a variety of backgrounds. We believe that HackHolyoke is a 24-hour slice of what the world should look like as our generation uses technology to improve society and the economy: a diverse collection of motivated, curious, creative individuals, who are excited to collaborate on solutions to the problems found in various fields. We have achieved this goal at previous iterations of HackHolyoke, where ~53% of attendees have identified as women, and well over half have been first-time hackers. Seasoned coders are also encouraged at HackHolyoke and have been well-represented in the past. HackHolyoke is now an annual event held in the fall.
The CSSociety introduced the Megas/Gigas Mentorship in the fall of 2014 and has since revised its structure. Since Spring 2016, CS students are placed into small groups containing several Gigas (upperclass CS students — usually majors) and several Megas (students who are earlier in their CS journeys, and who may be curious about starting to prioritize CS in their educations). The role of the upperclass students is to foster a supportive culture that facilitates open dialogues amongst the students, with topics ranging from purely curricular to the more personal. These groups, known as Megas & Gigas Mentorship Circles, gather together a few times per semester in the spirit of Lean In Circles.
In collaboration with departments on campus, the CSSociety hosts periodic technical interview and résumé workshops to help computing students succeed in applying for internships, REUs, full-time industry jobs, and graduate school.
If you are a recruiter and are interested in meeting our students, please contact us.
The CSSociety also helps coordinate student transportation, lodging, and registration for various technical conferences and hackathons throughout the year. We attend events such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, the New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium, and Women Engineers Code (WECode) at Harvard. We also attend and succeed at such hackathons as Hack the North, PennApps, YHack, and HackUMass. We work diligently to help support the financial costs of conference and hackathon attendance, which are invaluable experiences for our students.
In May 2014, the CSSociety won a grant from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Student Seed Fund to help support our original mentorship program, Megas/Gigas.
As students at a small women's liberal arts college, we understand the systemic challenges that impede progress towards gender parity in STEM fields. We believe we have a responsibility to build an environment that is supportive of and is concentrated with powerful, capable, and confident women engineers.
In Fall 2014, the CSSociety inaugurated a mentorship program called Megas/Gigas, which paired senior and junior computer science students with students in Mount Holyoke's introductory major course, CS101, and with first-year students in CS201. The program officially launched at a mentorship gala for CS faculty and involved students, where distinguished speakers gave remarks on the importance of mentorship and community for underrepresented groups in general, and especially in computing fields. Throughout the semester, the program fostered the mentoring relationships through planned and informal bonding socials like dinners, field trips, and in-house mini-hackathons, called HackNights, which provided a structured way for Gigas to share their personal experiences and advice with their Megas, and aid the latter in building the skills they would need to apply for technical internships and research opportunities.
As the mentorship program builds community on campus, the CSSociety also hopes to foster community off-campus. In the 2014–2015 school year, the CSSociety hosted and invited a diverse panel of Mount Holyoke alumnae now working in technology to speak, either virtually or physically, about their experiences working in such fields as software and hardware engineering, finance, consulting, and research. This event was particularly designed to help students explore the wide applications of a computer science degree and to enrich the connections between alumnae and students.
MakerJam was an annual embedded systems hackathon, the precursor to HackHolyoke, where students could create prototypes of their own invention and ingenuity. The hackathon welcomed students from the Five Colleges as well as students from the Seven Sisters.
In Fall 2014, the CSSociety piloted a middle school outreach program, where CSSociety members visited local middle schools and introduced them to the fun of engineering and mathematics through electronics workshops. By bringing approachable projects to students in the critical period when many decide whether or not to pursue a future in math and science, we hoped to change the prevalent pre-conceived notions of engineers and scientists, and, especially, draw more young women into the field.