Virtual Conference Inspires Female Computer Science Students

If women are underrepresented in computer science (and they are, by a large margin), you wouldn’t know it from sitting in on the Grace Hopper Celebration. Each fall, for the last 20 years, tens of thousands of women have converged for a long weekend of collaboration, networking, mentoring and commemoration of their contributions to the tech world.

COVID-19 pushed this fall’s convention into a virtual format, but it didn’t prevent the University of Denver’s Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science from sending 26 students (plus seven faculty and one staff member) for free. A private donor and funds from the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion budget covered the costs.

In interviews via email and Zoom, the DU Newsroom asked Anndi Russell, a graduate student in the data science program; Izzy Johnson, an undergraduate pursuing a BS in computer science; and Scott Leutenegger, a computer science professor and the Ritchie School’s director of inclusive excellence, about their experience

What’s it like for each of you as a woman in computer science?

Anndi Russell: My program is more equal in terms of women and men than is true in the larger computing world. But before this, I worked in education for a few years — which is a very female-heavy industry typically — so I know switching into computer science and the tech world is going to be a little different. I’m grateful for having a lot of female classmates right now and people I’ve connected with. We support each other.

Izzy Johnson: As an undergrad, I think I was surprised by how many women were in my classes, but it’s definitely still weighted the other way. At DU specifically, I’ve really enjoyed how many female professors I’ve had. I’ve had some really influential female professors in the Ritchie School.

Scott,

Meditation Giant Headspace Taps Intuit Alum CeCe Morken To Be Its First Female CEO

Over the last seven pandemic-ridden months, meditation app Headspace has seen its downloads double. The company made its offerings free for first responders and the unemployed, and the number of people using a specific “stressed meditation” series is up sixfold. And as CEOs have become increasingly more mindful of their employees’ mental health, corporations such as Tesco, Hewlett Packard Enterprises and Publicis have signed on for Headspace for Work, while Microsoft is even integrating the meditation service into its Teams platform.

Behind the scenes of much of this recent growth has been CeCe Morken, the woman who is currently serving as Headspace’s president and COO. She assumed the position in April after spending 13 years leading different business units at Intuit—but six months into the job, she’s getting a promotion. Headspace announced Monday that effective January 1, 2021, Morken will become the company’s CEO, while current CEO and cofounder Rich Pierson alongside cofounder Andy Puddicombe will transition to new roles as co-executive chairmen of the board.

“The founders have looked at what we’ve done in six months and said ‘we’re super comfortable with where you’re taking things, and so we want to we want to offer this role to you,’” Morken told Forbes in an exclusive phone interview, noting that the CEO role was not part of the initial conversations she had with Headspace when she joined in the spring.

“When we founded Headspace in 2010, we never imagined it would become the meditation and mindfulness leader it is today,” Pierson said in a statement Monday. He went on to note that for him and Puddicombe, this period of growth marked the right time to step away from