May 24, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Chicago will host one of the computing industry's premier
events for women in technology for the first time this October.
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the
Association for Computing Machinery will hold their Grace Hopper
Celebration of Women in Computing 2004 event here from Oct. 6 to
The conference marks a unique opportunity for Chicago's
technology community to connect with some of the leading minds in
The event focuses on the technical achievements of women in
academia and industry, and recruited support of major corporate
sponsors, including AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft,
Intel, Google and Sun. According to organizers, it has the backing
of major academic institutions including Cal Tech, Carnegie
Mellon, Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley and UC
Irvine. Organizers are just beginning to reach out to
Chicago-based companies and academic institutions for
"Our programs date back to 1987 when Anita Borg founded
the Systers community," says Telle Whitney, president of the
Anita Borg Institute.
Systers was an early online community designed for women in
technology. It enabled women to share thoughts about complex
technology problems and about being a woman in the technology
field. For more information, go to www.Systers.org.
Borg and Whitney founded the Grace Hopper celebration 10 years
ago. The program honors Admiral Grace Hopper, a computer industry
pioneer who invented the first compiler program in 1953,
translating English-language instructions into language that
computers can understand. Hopper also found the very first
computer, bug, which was an actual insect that crawled into the
wiring of a post-World War II computer.
Born in suburban Palatine, she encouraged women in computing
and often sported a T-shirt proclaiming, "Well-behaved women
rarely make history." Borg died of brain cancer last year.
"It's important to have diverse perspectives,"
Whitney says. "Half the consumers of technology are women.
Engineers create products for the person down the hallway who
looks an awful lot like them. If we don't have a diverse project
team, the technology that all of us will use suffers," she
Warby warbles on partnering
There's a rule in high-tech that you can't be good at
everything. You need to team and partner.
Even the mighty Microsoft and Accenture, two companies that are
known for their willfulness and independence, teamed up to form
Avanade in April 2000. Their goal was to wed Microsoft's focus on
software and Accenture's delivery of services to support large
This Wednesday, the Chicago Software Association hosts its
eighth annual partnering conference, focusing on the "Art of
Alliances." Adam Warby, senior vice president, Americas for
Avanade, keynotes the event. It's a homecoming for Warby, who
previously worked in Chicago as general manager of the Midwest
district for Microsoft.
Watch for Warby to share stories from the home front to make
his point about successful high-tech partnering. "I have
teenage daughters who are beginning to date," says Warby, who
feels tech partnerships should be based on compatibility, not the
glamor of the moment. "The best-looking boy is not always the
one to go with," he advises. "Look for someone who
you're going to be compatible with."
He stresses the need to tie alliances to the core business.
"What often happens is alliances are treated as a separate
entity," Warby says. "Commit to it and make it
work," he adds. "Every-one at Avanade is an alliance
Bits & bytes
The final presentations in this year's Edward L. Kaplan New
Venture Challenge at the University of Chicago Graduate School of
Business take place Wednesday. Prize money totaling $50,000 is at
u Also Wednesday, the Evanston-based Illinois Technology
Enterprise Corp. and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management
hold an entrepreneurial education event, "Bootstrapping Your
Way to Success." Kellogg professor Linda Darragh moderates a
panel that includes Bryan Hopcraft, co-founder, Simplified
Workforce Solutions; Amy Ravi, co-founder, ConferenceSeek, and Art
Roldan, CEO, SecurePipe.