SAWTT: Call out for women-identifed writers!

by Niki Messmore and Kathryn Magura

According a 2015 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the percentage of computing and engineering jobs held by women have been falling over the last 23 years – and an even greater disparity for women of color. “Stereotypes and bias” are the two leading causes of fewer women working in these fields. No matter how many strides women make in technology, there is always more work to do.

“Student Affairs Women Talk Tech” (SAWTT) was created in October 2015 by Kristen Abell and Brenda Bethman as a result of seeing few student affairs technology and social media blogs written by women. Here we are, five years later, and there’s been an increase of women-led blogs on technology! The field of student affairs is fortunate to have women-identifed leaders invest in the field as writers to share their research, perspectives, and best practices.

It is necessary to continue this momentum. “Student Affairs Women Talk Tech” is a blog dedicated to serving as a forum for women-identified persons in student affairs with an interest in technology. Writers work in a variety of fields that may not necessarily include directly focusing on technology, but they nonetheless have a passion for technology. We focus on showcasing the women who are doing things with technology in the field of student affairs, and talking about some of the unique issues that face women (and their intersecting identities) as we break into a formerly male-dominated area.

Interested in writing? We have a call-out for SAWTT bloggers for the 2015-2016 academic year! Whether you are interested in submitting one blog post or serving as a reoccurring writer, we invite you to register online by the deadline of Wednesday, October 28th.

Questions? Feel free to contact the SAWTT co-editors Kathryn Magura and Niki Messmore on Twitter via our handles @Kmagura and @NikiMessmore!

SAWTT: Call out for women-identifed writers!

Every Student Affairs Hero Needs a Sidekick

by @jessmsamuels

Yes, the academic year is wrapping up, but as you know, important emails go year round.  In some ways, email is a fantastic invention.  It allows us to work asynchronously with our colleagues, replying when we have the time between meetings, and communicating with several people simultaneously.  Email however can also be very frustrating.  Not only for the sheer volume of it, but because you send email out into the ether and sometimes never receive a response.  You don’t know whether your colleagues or students have opened it, or clicked on a link.  You just have to take it on faith that your emails are being read.  No more!

Let me introduce you to your own email Sidekick.  Sidekick (by HubSpot) is a browser plug-in that can be used with Gmail, Outlook and Apple Mail.

Sidekick allows you to:

  1. Track emails and clicks
  2. See profiles for the people you are emailing
  3. Schedule emails for later (coming soon)

Here is how it works –

  1. Track emails

    Sidekick does this by embedding a small invisible image in each of your emails.  When someone opens your email you will be able to see a pop up window next to each email when it was opened and if any links were clicked.  Be aware however that when you send the email to multiple people at once it only tells you that “someone” opened it but not who specifically.

Sidekick email example

  1.   See profiles for the people you are emailing

    Want to know a little more about the person you are emailing?  Sidekick pulls in twitter feed, mutual contacts, prior emails and more.  All you do is put in the person’s email address and the information will pop up on the right hand side.  If you are sending to multiple people you hover over each name for it to show up.

Continue reading “Every Student Affairs Hero Needs a Sidekick”

Every Student Affairs Hero Needs a Sidekick

On Web Usability

by Kristen Abell

Lately, I’ve been digging into the book Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug (if you’re tempted to read it, I’m going to suggest you read his updated version – we just had this one at work, so that’s what I’m reading). I often talk with my clients about the end user experience on a website – something we all too often forget to consider when we’re planning a redesign or new website. We think about how we want it to function without thought for how the end user will want it to function. This book is a great reminder that the end user is always who we should be thinking of when planning. A few takeaways from this book:

  • Usability testing – Do it and do it often. This is usually the first step to get cut from our website development process, but after reading this book, I know I’ll fight harder to keep it a part of the process in the future. It usually doesn’t take much time, and we always learn something from it – even if it’s that there is no “typical” user. I especially loved the idea Krug presented about pre-testing – having users test websites you’re looking at for inspiration to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • Accessibility – Do it because it’s the right thing. To be fair, I’ve been trying to work on accessibility on most of my sites for awhile now, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been doing the minimum. This book makes me want to do more than that. I suspect I’ll be digging into some reads and training on accessibility next so I can take this further on my sites.
  • Good design does not always equal good usability – Not that I didn’t sorta already know this, but this clarified it a bit better for me. For example, one of the current trends in design is to make links as unobtrusive as possible. However, that means that a user has to work harder to find these links – which means they are more likely to get frustrated. Even looking at my personal blog, I’m frustrated by the fact that the links are barely noticeable compared to the regular text (will be making changes there soon). This means that when we’re designing websites, we may have to compromise on our aesthetic to make a site more user-friendly.

After reading this book, I’m looking forward to digging into Krug’s other book – Rocket Surgery Made Easy which delves a little deeper into usability, as well as putting some of his thoughts and approaches into practice.

What are your usability tips and tricks? How do you approach usability when building a new site?

On Web Usability

#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

By Rachel Luna

Inspired by a grassroots effort from author and web expert Molly E. Holzschlag (@mollydotcom), today is “Unsung Leaders of the Web Day” as folks are invited to shout out messages of thanks.

Who are the unsung leaders of the web in your community?

  • Was there a digital ambassador who helped you get on board with web technology?
  • Do you have a great IT support team?
  • How about an awesome content manager?
  • Can you send a virtual high-five to your favorite bloggers?
  • Who is that person in your life you can always go to with web tech questions?
  • Who do you count on to be the innovator and push the envelope of the web?

Check out the #HonoringWebFolk hashtag on Twitter and add your own acknowledgements.  Perhaps you can extend the spirit of this movement beyond social media and take the time to show these folks how much you appreciate them with a hand-written thank you card or even a face-to-face conversation.

#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

Grace Hopper – “Queen of Code”

by Kristen Abell

If you follow this blog and don’t know the name “Grace Hopper,” I hope to amend that in this blog post. Grace Hopper was a programmer during World War II and essentially created COBOL – the basis for computer code. But that’s just a brief bio. Recently FiveThirtyEight featured a short film about her on their Signals series that is well worth a watch: Queen of Code. It’s about seventeen minutes long, and you should definitely take the time to find out more about her. As far as women in tech go, she’s one of the more amazing ones.

I also appreciate that this film was directed by a woman – Gillian Jacobs from the television show “Community.” How can you not love it now?

Let us know – who are your favorite women in technology?

Grace Hopper – “Queen of Code”

ACPA Digital Task Force Report

by Kristen Abell

Last year around this time, ACPA announced that they would be convening a Digital Task Force to look at digital technology in higher education and explore what we needed to do in order to move the field forward. A group of people from the field was pulled together to conduct research on and provide recommendations to the association specifically in the area of digital technology. A year later, this group has released their report on their findings and recommendations from four core subcommittees: Proven Practices, Knowledge and Skills, Research and Scholarship, and Informed and Responsible Engagement with Social Technologies.

Rather than rehashing the report here for you, I’m providing the link to it below. I served as the co-chair for the Knowledge and Skills subcommittee, so I’m going to refrain from analyzing this report at this time. However, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this – whether in the comments below or in an email to me directly at if you’re comfortable. I believe that both ACPA and NASPA have started to make great strides when it comes to recognizing the impact of technology on our field, and I’m excited to see the advances we make over the next year in this area.

ACPA Digital Task Force Draft Report and Recommendations

ACPA Digital Task Force Report

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Inspiration for #WomenTechmakers

by Jess Samuels

March is Women’s History Month and March 8th is International Women’s Day.  These serve as yearly reminders to honor women’s achievements and to continue to press forward in advocating for women’s rights.  A number of online campaigns have launched this year, including the #NotThere hashtag and video, raising awareness about gender inequality.  #NotThere is just one of many hashtags promoted for this important day.  Visit to learn about the various campaigns and the 2015 theme “Make It Happen.”

Google promoted International Women’s Day through it’s search engine Doodle.  Doodles are a fun way for Google to raise awareness about topics, inventions or people deserving of recognition.  Unfortunately, SPARK recently documented that between 2010-2013, of the 445 people Google honored, only 17 percent were women.

Google is aware of the issue and promises to do better. Google Doodle team lead Ryan Germick reported to The Huffington Post,  “This year we’re hoping to have women and men equally represented. So far this year we’ve done Doodles for as many women as men, a big shift from figures below 20 percent in past years.”


Google is working on other ways to promote gender equality in technology, with it’s Women Techmakers global summits and meet ups throughout the month of March.  These events provide resources and visibility to women in technology. While unfortunately there is no meet up in my area this year (check their map to see if there is one in yours), I am marking my calendar to apply to attend the summit next year.  What a great opportunity to meet inspirational women in tech!

Another campaign Google/YouTube are promoting is the #DearMe videos.  They are asking women to tape themselves answering the question: “What advice would you give your younger self?”  These videos give inspiration to young women who may feel discouraged or filled with uncertainty.

What would I say to my younger self?

It’s okay to be a nerd and geek.  Embrace that identity because it will lead you to the places where you are most fulfilled.  Take it a step further and explore your creativity in technology.  Take classes in design, think about the communications field and explore your interests instead of feeling pressure to pick a major right away.  Find ways to practice what you love and you’ll get even better at it.  Find other people, other women, who have some of the same passions as you do and nurture that excitement.  Oh, and make sure to buy a Mac instead of a PC sophomore year of college 😉

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Inspiration for #WomenTechmakers