TechWomen Jordan Delegation at the Dead Sea

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The TechWomen Delegation to Jordan is entering its final day. We have enjoyed visits to the Princess Rahma Bint Al Hasan School (Shmiesani, Amman) and the Latin Patriarchate School (Madaba), the Oasis 500 technical incubator, and a reception at the Zain Innovation Campus with US Ambassador to Jordan, the Honorable Alice G. Wells.

We have also seen Mount Nebo, the Shrine of the Beheading of John the Baptist, and the Madaba Mosaic Map in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba. The Delegation moved today from Amman to the Dead Sea for the two-day TechWomen unconference supporting problem solving and planning by this remarkable community of technical leaders from 21 countries.

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Delegation to Jordan Started

Katy Dickinson and Afnan Ali, TechWomen Amman Jordan 2016

The TechWomen 2016 Delegation to Jordan started this week. Several dozen mentors and Fellows from the 2011-2015 cohorts are joining together to learn from each other and this remarkable place. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs managed by the Institute of International Education in San Francisco. We are traveling with both State Department and IIE staff.

Amman has been cold and rainy but we have already toured the city, learned to cook our own Maqluba (rice, chicken, and vegetables cooked upside down) at the Beit Sitti cooking school, been addressed by the remarkable and wise (first woman) US Ambassador to Jordan, the Honorable Alice G. Wells, visited 2013 Fellow Hanan Kader’s HelloWorldKids coding academy for young children in the impressive and large King Hussein Business Park “the Silicon Valley of Jordan”, and visited the Eureka Tech Academy, run by 2011 Fellow Afnan Ali.

I was a member of the 2013 Jordan Delegation as well: much has changed here but  despite its challenging neighbors, Jordan’s friendly people, impressive Roman-era ruins, delicious food, and commitment to technology and entrepreneurship remain.

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Alumnae Council Events

TechWomen Alumnae Council Workshop

The first Mentor Professional Enrichment activity offered by the TechWomen Alumnae Council in 2016 was held last week: a “Leadership Presence Fundamentals” workshop.  The event was generously hosted at Cisco in San Jose by Council Co-Chair Cindy Cooley and presented by The Leadership Style Center. 15 San Francisco Bay Area mentors plus two IIE-SF staff attended the all-day workshop.

The other Council Co-Chair, Audrey Simpson, and I are now planning the next event: a diverse panel discussing mentoring best practices in corporations, non-profits, open source and other environments. This panel will be hosted by Ericsson, in March 2016 to honor International Women’s Day.

I am the TechWomen Alumnae Council Mentor Professional Enrichment Officer this year and am enjoying putting these events together.  One of the Council goals is to develop events that both San Francisco Bay Area based mentors, and the TechWomen Fellows can enjoy remotely in their 21 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.  A challenge!

TechWomen Alumnae Council Workshop

TechWomen Alumnae Council Workshop

TechWomen Alumnae Council Workshop

TechWomen Alumnae Council Workshop

Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Update: Notable Women in Computing

Notable Women in Computing cards

The Notable Technical Women project continues to thrive. Jessica Dickinson Goodman is incorporating the most recent accomplishments into our “Notable Women in Computing” deck for Dr. Susan Rodger to sell at the SIGCSE 2016 conference. These were very popular at last year’s Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) gathering. Over 5,000 decks have been distributed since Jessica, Susan, and I started this project in 2014. I just finished research to update the 54 cards honoring our remarkable technical leaders. (I hope that the updates will be done in time for me to bring some decks on the TechWomen Delegations to Jordan and Zimbabwe next month.) Here is what I found:

New Wikipedia Biography Pages:

Remarkable New Honors or Awards (or changes of venue):

  • Ada Lovelace: 200th Birthday Celebrated by Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries
  • Jennifer Chayes – Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and 2015 John von Neumann Lecture Award
  • Helen Greiner: 2014 Presidential Ambassador for Global Leadership (PAGE)
  • Mary Lou Jepsen is now an executive at Facebook / Oculus VR (moved from GoogleX)
  • Katherine Johnson: 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 2015 NCWIT Pioneer Award
  • Kristina Johnson: 2015 elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • Jean Sammet: 2013 NCWIT Pioneer Award
  • Padmasree Warrior is now the CEO of U.S. for NextEV (moved from Cisco)
  • Jennifer Widom: 2015 ACM-W Athena Lecturer Award

Please tell me if you know of recent honors to add to these! You can buy cards and posters on Notable Technical Women, and follow this project on our Facebook page.

Notable Women in Computing cards

Regrettably, I was not able to find Wikipedia biography pages for four of our honorees. (This is actually progress since 14 were missing bios in November 2014.) Please use Dr. Susan Rodger’s Writing Wikipedia Pages for Notable Women in Computing guide to write about:

Notable Women in Computing cards

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Understanding King Lear

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Our Shakespeare reading group met on Sunday to read his 1606 masterpiece King Lear aloud, and share a potluck meal in a local home.  I wrote my Honors Thesis at U.C. Berkeley on King Lear, so I felt very well prepared for this reading.  John Watson-Williams presented the part of Lear wonderfully, and I very much enjoyed reading both Cordelia and The Fool (as a doubled role).  We had fifteen readers in all to cover characters of the court and countryside.   It is delightful listening to good people enjoy developing nasty roles like Edmund the Bastard, Goneril, Regan, Duke Cornwall, and Oswald.

When I wrote my thesis as a university student, I understood the interaction between Lear and his daughters in a 21-year-old’s context. Now (a few years later), after my father passed on at 85 (about Lear’s age), and I am managing my 84-year-old mother’s affairs, I hear the play differently. I know Goneril to be greedy, vicious, and unfilial but her plea to her father in Act I, Scene IV rings true:

Come, sir,
I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
These dispositions, that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

King Lear is part of my life: a play that is deep and broad and always fresh, offering new understanding with every reading.  The Shakespeare reading group is based at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California) but we welcome readers from the community.  We meet every other month: next up is Richard II, in April.

On 24 January 2016, I asked John Watson-Williams to pose as King Lear in front of St. Andrew’s Mark Adams stained glass window of Chaos. John WW gave me three aspects of Lear: benign, stern, and mad:

John Watson-Williams as benign King Lear 2016 . John Watson-Williams as stern King Lear 2016 . John Watson-Williams as mad King Lear 2016

Top Image: King Lear Act I, Scene 1: Image from Shakespeare-Gallerie, printed in Berlin around 1885

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TechWomen Photo Exhibit, Delegations to Jordan and Zimbabwe

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This week will be the first TechWomen photography show: TechWomen: Impact through Imagery at White Walls SF (in San Francisco, California):

Since 2011, TechWomen has been empowering women to be change agents – exposing more women and children to STEM and leading efforts to address social and economic challenges. Last year, TechWomen awarded $15,000 in seed grants to support six action plans. Donations from TechWomen: Impact through Imagery will fund 2016 seed grants.  Bring your friends for an opportunity to share what TechWomen is about: Thursday, January 21 at 6:30 PM

Next month, I am looking forward to joining the TechWomen mentoring program Delegations to Jordan and Zimbabwe, with a visit to Israel and Palestine in between. I am delighted that my daughter Jessica can join me in Israel and Palestine.  These will be my 7th and 8th delegation trips, and my third trip to the Middle East with Jessica. We look forward to visiting STEM programs for girls and women – like the Injaz program we visited in Jordan in 2013, pictured here:

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Collecting a Labor Judgement

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I picked photos of Abraham Lincoln to illustrate this story on collecting on a labor judgement because the 16th U.S. President is my role model for persistence, balanced consideration, clear communication, and doing the right thing under difficult circumstances. Since 2013, I have been trying to use Lincoln’s virtues while working with California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to collect on an unpaid debt from my former-employer MentorCloud. I am writing this down to help others decide whether it is worth their time and trouble try to collect unpaid wages, or just to walk away.

What the DLSE does:

The mission of the California Labor Commissioner’s Office is to ensure a just day’s pay in every workplace in the State and to promote economic justice through robust enforcement of labor laws. By combating wage theft, protecting workers from retaliation, and educating the public, we put earned wages into workers’ pockets and help level the playing field for law-abiding employers.

Like many legal circumstances, the process for getting a labor judgement issued and then collecting on it is prolonged and complex. In my case:

  • 2012-2013: I worked for MentorCloud as an advisor, consultant, and employee for about a year without my contracted wages being paid.  I attempted to collect many times but was put off.
  • 28 August 2013: I filed an “Initial Report or Claim” form, followed by a preliminary meeting at DLSE.
  • 1 April 2014: a formal hearing was held (attended by MentorCloud CEO Ravi Gundlapalli and me).  The facts were not contested at the hearing.
  • 2 April 2014: the Labor Commissioner made an award (that is, the Hearing Officer signed an “Order, Decision or Award by the Labor Commissioner” including information on Background, Findings of Fact, Legal Analysis, and Conclusions).
  • 2 May 2014: the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara, requested that the clerk enter judgement.
  • 20 June 2014: the Deputy Labor Commissioner confirmed in a letter to me that “In accordance with California Labor Code section 98.2(d), a judgment has been entered in your name with the court against your former employer.”
  • 12 December 2014: I signed an “Assignment of Judgement” form transferring the money judgement to the DLSE Judgement Enforcement Unit for debt collection.
  • Calls and visits to the DLSE followed but no action was taken, apparently because the office did not record the case online with a copy of my Driver’s License.
  • 11 January 2016: I signed a second “Assignment of Judgement” form transferring the money judgement to the DLSE Judgement Enforcement Unit for collection.  This time, I made sure they made a copy of my Driver’s License.
  • Still waiting…

Sometimes, doing the right thing takes a long time.

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