Read the message from Dr. Seaman, below, or listen to the video recording here.
Dear CWIT Family -
We all strive to be recognized and appreciated for the work we do. At UMBC and at CWIT, our goal is to prepare all of our students to do work that is in fact recognized and appreciated. One of the hard parts of being a Woman in Tech is that, too often, we are recognized in the workplace for attributes that have nothing to do with the work we do - for our appearance, our clothes, our voice, sometimes just for the fact that we are women. Women in the tech (and other) workplaces are hyper visible for things we don't want to be noticed for. This is uncomfortable, sometimes even hostile, and prevents us from doing our best work. This is true not just for women, but for all underrepresented groups in the tech workplace - underrepresented racial minorities, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, non-traditionally aged people and others - and for those who have multiple of these identities, the burden is multiplied accordingly.
Early in my career as a Woman in Tech, now 30 years ago, I had a small supportive group of female colleagues, with whom I commiserated about all the things we had to endure as women in tech. We shared stories about the professor who made comments about the “women’s corner” in his classroom where the 1 or 2 women in the class sat, or the colleague who publicly referred to aspects of our appearance while we were trying to make a technical presentation, bosses who asked about when we were planning to have children, or interviewers who commented on how our presence would make the office prettier. We helped each other laugh about these things because back then that was all we could do.
But it’s 30 years later, and CWIT is here to call out such behavior for what it is, and to make it clear that it won’t be tolerated in this community, and to equip CWIT members to call it out in their workplaces as well. Right now I have such an opportunity to call out an inappropriate comment that was made in the chat during the Welcome Back Social last Wednesday. So, to be clear, it is not ever appropriate, at a CWIT event or gathering or forum, out loud or in a chat or on Discord or any other public medium, to make personal comments about any aspect of a community member (faculty, staff, student, guest, or alum) that is not relevant to their role and activities within the community.
I am so grateful for this community and for the work we do here. I appreciate each and every one of you, and I wish you a great semester.