Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The resident expert on....mentoring?

This year, I have sometimes felt as though I am not listened to, or taken seriously, during department meetings and other related meetings. It is a frustrating experience, to say the least. Oddly, I don't think it's completely intentional---I think a lot of it is just the same old stupid phenomenon of women's voices just aren't heard in meetings, in general. But it happens, and it stinks when it does.

In our most recent meeting, though, I found that I had the rapt attention of everyone else in the room. For once, everyone stopped and actually listened to what I was saying, without interrupting. For once, everyone took what I said seriously and treated it as important.

The topic? Mentoring and recruiting of students. Particularly women students. Apparently I have become the resident expert on such matters. (Maybe this is finally an acknowledgement that all those "crazy" ideas I have for getting students to seriously consider taking our classes and majoring in our discipline seem to be working, as evidenced by the number of students who go on from my classes to take other classes and eventually become majors? Which I've known for a while, but which everyone else seems to be in a bit of denial about. Or taking credit for themselves.)

I find this really interesting. I have worked hard to be an effective mentor to all of my students, but particularly to those students who don't exactly fit the mold of the "typical" computer nerd. I work hard at convincing students to take the next CS course, to think seriously about CS as a major. And most importantly, I work very hard at making it all personal, particularly when recruiting students into any of our courses. This is all somewhat of a no-brainer to me: treat others as you wish to be treated, etc. And it works. But apparently it's not as much of a no-brainer to others as I would have thought. And that's good, because apparently that makes me look like a genius. And when all is said and done, it's nice to be recognized for something that I do that is so important to me.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can extend you influence by offering classes online along with pedagogical advice with the very class itself? You can either use the OpenCourseWare model that is used at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or, if you must, on a pay basis similar to what Linda Weiman does at her Lynda.com site for teaching software (Curiously I did not see classes offered so far as Open Source software--GIMP, OpenOffice.org,Blender,Nvu, Inkscape, etc.--at her site. Perhaps I just missed it.)

Further, any thoughts on OpenCourseWare and Open Source software? Perhaps you can get your more advanced students to contribute snipets of code to code libraries for Open Source projects? I think all CS professors should encourage their advanced students to do this and offer extra credit to them for their contributions to the Open Source movement.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see the department is finally acknowledging just one of your many areas of expertise. Nice work on being patient and I'm glad you finally got to be heard.

Jane said...

Thanks, FCSGS!

Michael, I've toyed w/ the idea of integrating FOSS into a course or two---it's one of the many ideas I'll be thinking about on my upcoming sabbatical. And I haven't had a chance to check out the OpenCourseWare stuff, but I think it's a great idea. I'm a firm believer in giving back to the community by sharing teaching ideas---syllabi, assignments, etc. OpenCourseWare is a great and systematic way to accomplish this.

Ms.PhD said...

Keep up the good work. I'm glad to hear they're finally noticing. There may be hope for the rest of us, yet.

Saoirse said...

I'm pleased to hear that you are getting the recognition you deserve.

I still wish I could have taken your class as an introduction to CS.

Sharon said...

As a soon-to-be undergrad girl considering majoring in math or computer science, I'd like to say THANK YOU. I go to a science and tech high school, yet they've done such a bad job of encouraging "those students who don't exactly fit the mold of the 'typical' computer nerd" to continue in either of those subjects that if I don't have amazing CS classes my freshman year in college, I'll probably give up on the field entirely. So thank you for reminding me and all your students that it doesn't have to be that way.

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