Author Archives: Melissa Demcsak
This month, AWC-NNJ invites you to spend “An Evening with Elaine Weyuker, PhD.”
Award winner Software Engineer Elaine Weyuker will be joining us for dinner and discussion on her career in IT. Elaine is a Technology Leader at AT&T Labs, Florham Park, NJ since 1996, an AT&T research fellow with expertise in software engineering and testing, and a True champion of Women in Technology.
A former Professor of Computer Science at NYU and a Chair of Association of Computing Machinery’s Committee on Women in Computing (ACM-W), Elaine is the author of over 130 papers in journals and refereed conference proceedings. She is a Member of the Rutgers University Graduate School Advisory Board, the Executive Board of the Coalition to Diversify Computing, the Editorial Board, Journal of Empirical Software Engineering,Advisory Editorial Board at Journal of Software and Systems, and the Technical Advisory Board of Cigital, Inc. Elaine was recently awarded the ACM 2010 Presidential Award and the Anita Borg Institute, Technical Leadership Award in 2008.
Join us as we learn from Elaine how she achieved her successes and works through challenges as an IT professional.
We hope to see you for this exciting event!
When: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
6:00pm – 6:30pm Networking
6:30pm – 7:30pm Dinner
7:30pm – 9:00pm Program
Where: The Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub
1735 Rt. 46 East
Parsippany, NJ 07054
RSVP: By November 14 via e-mail to: email@example.com (Beth Maher).
Cost: . The fee for the Dinner and Program is $20 for AWC-NNJ members and $25 for non-members. Checks should be made out to “AWC-NNJ”.
|The women’s new shoes…
My grandmother lived in the small hamlet of Shinglehouse, PA for 50+ years until her death last year. Shinglehouse is a very small community of 1200 people, 3 churches, a grocery store, a drug store and a gas station that doubles as an eatery. So, a few years back when she learned that Dollar General was building a new store in her, she became excited and began to count down the days until the store opened. This meant that she would have access to many items that she could only get by paying a premium at the town grocery or by driving 20 miles.
Upon my grandmother’s death it became apparent that she had made a large impact on the workers of the Dollar General. The workers at this store pooled together money to buy flowers for my grandmother’s wake. This was not a small gesture as I would imagine that these workers do not collect six figure salaries. It was a beautiful flower arrangement that included my grandmother’s favorite colors of aqua blue and yellow. They obviously knew my grandmother very well. Several workers attended her wake and told me a story about my grandmother that I had not heard before.
This is the story. On a winter morning, my grandmother was shopping in the store and women with no shoes ran into the store. If you live in New Jersey and see someone run into a store without shoes, the normal reaction is to get as far from the person as possible. But, this wasn’t a reaction that was in my grandmother’s nature. She approached the women and learned that the women and her family had just lost everything in a fire and that the women had left her home with no shoes. So, without hesitation she handed the women money to buy new shoes.
What would you do? If you died today, how would you want to be remembered?
On a recent drive past a somewhat vacant NJ Strip Mall, I noticed that a new Dollar General was opening soon. So, most of you will say “So what, who cares about another dollar store”. But just the thought of having this store in my town actually provided me with intense joy as I began to reminisce about my childhood and how these types of stores have impacted me.
Some of my earliest shopping memories involved visiting my grandmother at her bank job, having lunch nearby and going to the local D&K Store (predecessor of the many dollar stores). I remember spending hours sifting through all the fun stuff in the store and choosing my selections very carefully. It was like a great treasure hunt and I always left the store elated and anxious to find a place in my bedroom for my new found items.
As a child, the thing I never realized was all this ‘stuff’ was really low grade junk. And I also didn’t realize that I was marginally poor. This is because; the words ‘poor’ were never echoed from the mouths of my mother or grandmother. They hadn’t lied to me, they simply believed that with hard work and diligence, life holds a promise of better days.
In today’s uncertain economic times, the hope of better days and the appreciation of little things are key attitudes for coping. My goal with my children is to instill attitudes and behaviors that enable they to feel joy even during the hardest times of their lives.
It seems like yesterday that my little girl was wearing a cute fuchsia polka dot dress with a pastel camp hat. But, it wasn’t yesterday or the day before. In fact, it’s been at least a decade since she wore this type of attire.
How did time pass so quickly? Have I done all I could to prepare my daughter for the future? These questions and more flood through my head as I reflect on the bittersweet reality of my daughter’s impending Senior Prom and High School Graduation.
It’s not that I haven’t prepared for this time in my daughter’s life, but I have been in my own numb state of denial regarding the fact that my oldest daughter is becoming an adult and my days of ‘parenting’ her are numbered. I’m thinking that this time should be filled with utter happiness and joy. But, underneath my joy is a layer of sorrow that stings for the loss of the child that is becoming a woman.
My husband and I were very young (22 years old) when Manda was born. We were still mostly teenagers looking for a direction in life. It didn’t take long for us to realize that by having a child, our direction was defined. Many of life’s questions that people in their 20’s ponder over for years; we found answers for in mere months. Making Manda’s life good was our driving force. We worked hard to create careers for ourselves with a few college credits and bought our first house at age 25. When Manda was in Kindergarten, we welcomed a second daughter. We were very lucky.
My life has centered around the girls and their various activities (this was my second job after working in the office all day). Manda was involved in Community Theater (singing, acting & dancing) in Middle School and then added a full commitment to Color Guard in High School among other things. There were many long days and nights spent taxi-ing Manda from place to place. The most interesting phenomenon during this time in Manda’s childhood, were the many conversations that took place in the car. I’m not sure what it is about the car, but it was very conducive for long discussions about life and relationships. It’s an effective way to communicate, because no one can escape until the destination is reached.
Last fall, the many conversations in the car stopped abruptly when Manda was granted her driver’s license. It was a hard as a mother to accept that the time had come for my daughter to drive (felt like a hunk of skin was being pulled from my stomach). I think it has helped me accept the fact that Manda can get around this world on her own and that she doesn’t need her mother 24/7. This was a necessary evolution for me.
We are so proud of Manda. She has been a wonderful, bright and responsible child who could be depended on to do the right thing. It’s been a joy raising a child like this and I have had the time of my life doing it.
Perhaps my emotions should be not of ‘loss’ but of an inability to let go of a childhood. As parents, we put our all and every smidgeon of our being into creating these amazing life forms that one day walk away and start their own lives. How does a parent go from putting all this effort/time into a child, to releasing control and letting them take the wheel?
Children and Parents don’t come with an Operators Manual. Life happens… I think that’s the answer.
Welcome to the Dynamic Innovative Vivacious Amazing Women in Technology Blog!!!!
Over the past few years, I have attended many technical events and have found that the attendees of these events consist of only 5-10% women. While it’s really cool to be surrounded by men and never to wait in line to use the restroom, I keep on wondering where all the Women In Technology are. Is there a larger percentage of Women In Technology and they just don’t attend these types of events? Or is 5-10% an accurate percentage? An InfoWorld article from January of 2007 indicated that “women accounted for 16.6 percent of all network and computer systems administrator positions in 2006”. So, I was close….
January, 2007 InfoWorld Article: http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/01/29/05FEwomentech_1.html
|Aspire, Succeed, Inspire and then Give Back…. I recently attended an Association for Women in Computing meeting. I was introduced to this group back around the holidays, but regular meeting weren’t scheduled to begin until March. As a women involved in the technology industry for many years, it’s difficult to find situations where the number of females out number the number of men in a room. So, I was very excited to attend the meeting, but I didn’t really have any expectations beyond that.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the room was the constant buzz of conversation. It’s not like men don’t talk, but this was different. I hadn’t realized that when I enter a new situation that includes mostly males, I tend to do a lot of talking because of gaps in the conversation. Wow!! So, for once I could sit back and use my listening skills and relax. One brave guy even opted to attend the meeting. This really gave me perspective on what it’s like to be the only male/female in the room. Interesting stuff!!!
I think that I will remember this meeting for the rest of years because of the impactful, inspiring and altruistic speaker that was featured at this event. The speaker, Susan Lutz is the Founder and CEO of both ETSec, Inc and TrustELI, Inc.
Before the event, I hadn’t taken the time to read through the speaker’s bio. When I first met Susan, she appeared to be a polished professional woman who seemed similar enough to most women in the room. She opened her speech with a coloring book drawing that her daughter had completed years ago that included the words ‘Don’t Quit’ (or something similar) and cited how that simple coloring exercise had inspired her in her own professional endeavors. Earlier in my career, I had often added inspiring poems or saying to be own cube, but after feeling the pain of outsourcing and other company costing savings programs, I had stripped by cube walls of this sort of stuff.
It was amazing to hear Susan talk about her multi-disciplinary experience in strategic selling, marketing, strategy planning, forecasting Next Generation Technology, profit and loss, and technology solution implementation to both ETSec and TrustELI. She also spoke about her expertise in global systems integration and her extensive experience in telecom have been in demand around the world – including Singapore, the Philippines, London and New York. I was very inspired by her ability to gain such a variety experiences and to become so successful in the business and technical world.
The next part of her speech sent chills through my body and placed tears in my eyes. Susan and her husband Richard are also founders of The Angel Ball Foundation; a non-profit organization which grants Adults who are Terminally Ill their final Dream. It seems like there are many organizations out there that cater to sick children, but not many for adults. Sadly, I know that it’s only a matter of time before a family member or friend may require help from this organization.
It’s been a week or so since the Association for Women in Computing meeting and I am stilling carrying a bit of that meeting with me as I walk through my daily tasks. I’ve even started adding some inspiring poems and sayings back to my cube walls. And I’ve put more effort into becoming a stronger women in a mostly man’s world. Who knows, maybe someday I can create an organization to help people or lead kids in the direction of pursuing careers in the area of technology.
Coding is good, but Enjoy your Journey….