Google was recently a sponsor of the 2012 CRA-W Graduate Cohort. This two day workshop is for women in graduate school in Computer Science or a related field. The goal is to increase the ranks of senior women in computing by building and mentoring communities of women through their graduate studies.

This unique event welcomes new women graduate students into the community of computing researchers and professionals by providing them with a broad range of strategies and role models. Students met for two days on topics such as grad school survival skills to how to interview for a technical job. The workshops included a mix of formal presentations and informal discussions and social events.

Google has sponsored this event for several years now in an effort to support the CRA community to increase the number of women participating in Computer Science and Engineering research and education at all levels. Three software engineers from our Seattle/Kirkland office also presented during the conference in six different workshops, including Dana Zhang ("Master’s vs. PhD: Which one to Choose?" and "PhD Job Search"), Lamia Youseff ("Being a Woman in Computing" and "PhD Non-Academic Career Paths"), and Frances Perry ("Summer Internships" and "MS Job Search & Resume Writing Clinic").

Over 70 women presented their research at the annual poster show, developing their presentation skills while engaging with each other and representatives from sponsor companies. The topics ranged from "Modeling and Enhancing Android’s Permission System" to "Bringing Computer Science Education to Low and No-Technology Communities". The poster session was followed by a reception sponsored by Google and Microsoft Research.

A report from the National Science Foundation in 2011 reported findings that show that Grad Cohort has a positive impact on the graduate students who participate. The study relevant to Grad Cohort sought comparison data from students completing their graduate degree in computing between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011. Past Grad Cohort participants were recruited to participate in this survey.

Some key findings in the first year of this ongoing study are:
  • Participants completing their degrees seem to have stronger professional networks than nonparticipants
  • When asked to rate their knowledge of strategies for developing their professional networks, 87% of PhD participants rate themselves as knowing “some” or “quite a bit” compared to 67% of the PhD nonparticipants
  • For those completing master’s degrees, 85% of participants rated themselves as knowing “some” or “quite a bit” compared to 70% of nonparticipants.
In terms of how they put this knowledge into practice:
  • About 71% of PhD participants, compared to 37% of PhD nonparticipants, have served on departmental, conference, or professional society committees at least once in their graduate careers.
  • 64% of PhD participants report conferences as a significant source of job information, compared to 31% of nonparticipants.
  • 92% of MS participants compared to 48% of nonparticipants said that they learned about available jobs from their professional networks
Overall, the event was a wonderful celebration of all the attendees' graduate studies and research. The Grad Cohort was filled with mingling with other graduate students, networking with sponsor representatives and culminated in a dance party extravaganza.

We really enjoyed meeting everyone at the conference and wish them continued success.

Posted by Hal Marz, University Programs Specialist