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!

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”

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

Reflections from #LeadOnCA

by Rachel Luna

This week, I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Lead On: Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women with 5,000 mostly female folks who gathered at the intersection of technology, leadership, and gender.  I attended this event as a volunteer resume reviewer and was also able to participate in the general sessions.  I’ll admit it was odd for me to be in a space so focused on gender as this is an aspect of my identity I don’t often have the opportunity to explore with as much depth and concentration.  Here are some of my takeaways:

Conversations I appreciated

Leadership as a ‘lady thing’

“We’re going to talk about lady things, like leadership and taking over the world in 2016,” said Kara Swisher as she kicked off the opening session.  The conference theme was “Lead On” and this sentiment was palpable in everything from the hashtag (#LeadOnCA), to the background music (“I’m every woman” and “You’re gonna hear me roar”).  Of course, the main draw for the conference was the keynote lineup, which included Hillary Clinton, Jill Abramson, Dr. Brene Brown, Candy Chang, Kara Swisher, and Diane von Furstenberg.  Their stories are remarkable not just because they are women but also because they are leaders.

Opportunities and encouragement to be change agents

Top: My colleague Kathryn Ward writes on the "Before I Die" wall.  Bottom: I contribute my goals to the community art installation at #LeadOnCA.
Top: My colleague Kathryn Ward writes on the “Before I Die” wall. Bottom: I contribute my goals to the community art installation at #LeadOnCA.

It wasn’t all talk at this event; leadership was in action in a variety of ways.  For example, conference participants shared goals and contributed to their own “Before I Die” wall, inspired by Candy Chang’s work.  The exhibit hall, which at most conferences is all about commercialism, featured a couple community engagement efforts, namely partnerships with Family Giving Tree (where attendees stuffed 500 backpacks with school supplies and encouraging notes for children in need) and Dress for Success San Jose (which collected donations of handbags and jewelry).  “What you do doesn’t have to be big and dramatic,” said Hillary Clinton, encouraging participants to make change.  “You don’t have to run for office,” she said with a figurative wink and nod but no official announcement about her intentions.

Conversations I wanted more of

I’ll admit I spent most of the day fulfilling my volunteer duties in the Career Pavilion, meaning I only saw the keynote addresses and attended one workshop.  So conversations like these could have happened in other spaces, but I found them glaringly lacking from the general conference dialogue and social media backchannel.

Breaking out of the gender binary

Everywhere I turned, there were examples of dualistic gender thinking.  In general sessions, female attendees were celebrated while male allies were thanked for their presence.  Every statistic was presented with just two options (ex: 70% of Google’s workforce is men and 30% women).  An announcement that some of the men’s restrooms had been converted to women’s facilities elicited a big cheer from the audience, and I couldn’t help but think why some couldn’t have been converted to all-gender spaces.  The result of these binary practices: our nonconforming community members were unacknowledged and rendered invisible.

Gender + any other aspect of diversity

I know this was a “conference for women” so it is expected we’d talk a lot about gender, but could we please acknowledge some other aspects of our identities?  While listening to the main stage speakers, I noted less than a handful of comments that directly addressed aspects of diversity other than gender.  And of those comments, most came from women of color.  By not addressing intersectionality, the female experience was painted with the same (white, middle class, well-educated) brush.  “Leaning in” and trying hard were touted as the keys to happiness and success while dynamics of privilege and power were unexamined.

Random things that got me thinking


  • The items in my participant swag bag included two office supplies and four body/cosmetic products, including one item for children (sunscreen). I wonder how these giveaways were determined and what conversations happened around those decisions.
  • A Nursing Mother’s Room was available for attendees.  Although I did not utilize this space, I tracked it as one of the event’s inclusion efforts and was glad to share its location with the woman who was balancing her pumping equipment and bottles on the edge of the bathroom sink.
  • An emphasis on making connections was built into conference process and content.  Intentional spaces for informal conversations were available in the exhibit hall and general session area, Twitter handles for all speakers were included in all conference materials, and almost every major speaker described women supporting women as essential to success.  In these ways, networking was framed with a relational perspective as opposed to a transactional one.
  • All the resume reviewers were volunteers from local colleges and universities.  It was nice to see higher education professionals recognized and sought out for their expertise in career support and guidance, especially in the business-driven environment of Silicon Valley.  I even consulted with someone who currently works in corporate HR and said she brought her resume because she valued the advice of career services professionals.
  • One last thing: shoutout to Kathryn Ward who also represented Samuel Merritt University as a resume reviewer and drove us both around the Bay Area that day!

Have you attended a conference like this?  What were your takeaways?  What would you like to see at a “conference for women”?

Reflections from #LeadOnCA

Follow Friday: #YesAllWomen

by Kristen Abell

Earlier this week, Valerie blogged about the #YesAllWomen hashtag movement on Twitter. I’m writing about it again because I think it’s that important for you to follow it. I’ve considered adding a few tweets to it myself, but as usual, I have more to say about this topic than 140 characters can contain. For this many women to be able to name their experiences with misogyny in a public forum is a huge deal – whether you realize it or not. Even claiming these experiences can feel shaming, and this hashtag has turned it into a moment for women to redefine that shame and direct it where it belongs.

I truly hope that this is a hashtag that speaks to all genders – not just women. Much of what is mentioned in the tweets is a result of stereotypical gendered socialization that doesn’t benefit any of us. I also hope that the sentiments behind this hashtag carry on for much longer than a few days, as Twitter hashtag movements are wont to do. There is so much we can all learn from this.

If you feel so inclined, use the comments below to share your #YesAllWomen tweets, comments and stories – 140 characters or more. Then go check out the hashtag on Twitter and learn what women face on a daily basis – or learn that you are not alone.

In more than 140 characters, here is my story:

Because when I was going to middle school for an education, I was made to feel shameful about the changes my body was going through. Because I was repeatedly harassed in the hallways at school. Because I was groped and touched in all the places I had been taught never to let a stranger touch me, and because they were not strangers but supposedly my friends. Because when I reported them, no one protected me from the retaliation. Because I was afraid to tell my mother any of this until I was much older because I thought it was my fault. Yes me. Yes all women.

Follow Friday: #YesAllWomen

How I Work

With a hefty nod to the folks at for the idea and questions, we’ve decided to share a little bit about how the bloggers at SA Women Talk Tech work.

by Valerie Heruska

Location: Bloomington, IN
Current Gig: Assistant Director for Residence Life, Academic Initiatives
One word that best describes how you work: organizedchaos
Current mobile device: Smartphone: iPhone5. Tablets: iPad 2
Current computer:  MacBook Pro with a 13″ monitor. Clearly I drank the Apple juice.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why? 

I love Feedly, especially for personal purposes: saving recipes. I also use Evernote on all of my devices for work meetings and I can easily transfer notes that I take into emails to my colleagues and students. I’m use I’ll figure out more uses for both, but for right now, this is how I use them.

For my running, I use Nike+ GPS and for when I am in a new place, I use map my run online and transfer my route to the app. on my phone.

My workflow is like this: 

  • I take every single agenda for a meeting I receive as an attachment in an email and automatically drop it into Evernote. It allows me to type my notes into each of my Evernote agendas and I am able to use tags to figure out what I need.
  • I have a gigantic dry erase board in my office which stores all of my random ideas and also a huge checklist of things that I need to do. I also resort to using beautiful post its to tack things up on the board as well.

What’s your workspace setup like? 

I have a beautiful cherry-oak desk, in an office with no windows.  I have a monitor, which a stand so it is at eye-level. I also have a stand for my iPad and frequently bring my MBP to my office when I am working on graphics. I like to surround myself with things that inspire me: books, plants, pictures. I have a duo coarkboard and dry-erase board, which is great for putting my favorite things near me, without cluttering my small office space. I also have a small desk lamp and a standing lamp because the fluorescent bulbs give me migraines.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Do something during your day that makes you happy. Also, if you’re in an office with no windows… or even if you aren’t… go outside and take a walk. Move around often and clear your mind. Don’t sweat the small stuff… seriously, let it go.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

My nutribullet. I make some really tasty (and chock full of energy) beverages for any time I get the craving for something sweet. It’s definitely something I  enjoy having and it keeps my blood sugar at even levels so I can be productive at my best time: the morning.

What do you listen to while you work? P

I have a pandora station that I named after me: Valtastic. It features the following artists: Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Nikka Costa, and soulful voices.

Women’s Running Magazine. I wish I had more to say about reading, but I haven’t been able to get to the library. 

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? P

What’s your sleep routine like?

I’m usually in bed by 10PM and shortly asleep thereafter. I’m usually up at 5:30/6AM. I get up around 5AM when it is lighter out in the morning.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? P

Why not go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is. – Mark Twain

How I Work

What’s in a name? Changing your online identity after marriage

by @JessMSamuels (formerly @JessFaulk)

 “What’s in a name? That which we call Jess Faulk by any other name would be as sweet.”  Changing your online identity after marriage.

I have a confession to make.  I have been married for over 3 months and I have yet to complete my online identity transition.  I’ll be completely honest, the whole idea intimidates me.  Not the name change itself.  I changed to Jess Samuels without much concern. Even though I consider myself a feminist, and can appreciate anyone who chooses to keep their own name, I liked the idea of having a family name, being a recognizable unit, and Faulk hyphenated with anything is just too much of a mouthful.  I can also appreciate my friends who change their name because it is more unique, and more brandable. For example, how easy would it be for me to show up in Google if my last name happened to be Simpson?  Meranda Adams in her article “The Age of SEO, How Do You Change Your Name After Marriage?” laments that her name change meant she was much less recognizable. Meranda says, “If only I’d fallen for a guy with a more original last name.”  After having made the choice to take my husband’s last name, Samuels, I could relate.

The name change in my offline world was relatively easy. I moved through everything from social security to credit cards within weeks of getting married.  Checking those things off of my to do list felt manageable, however, changing my online identity felt insurmountable.  When I Google “Jess Faulk” in a incognito search, 8 out of the first 11 results in Google are me.  My twitter, my institution’s staff listing, my website, my picture, my pins.  When I search “Jess Samuels” however, only 1 out of the first 11 results in Google are me.  To start all over from scratch, building an online presence is intimidating, but not impossible.


Where to start

Before I even officially became Mrs. Samuels, I started with  This site allowed me to quickly determine which sites have the username I desired available.  I had to decide whether having Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube (or dozens of other sites) all with the same username was important to me.  Because I knew branding myself online after already starting with another username on so many other platforms was going to be a challenge, I decided that having one consistent name was important, and thus selected JessMSamuels for all of my userprofiles.

Holding Period (i.e. Engagement)

While you are waiting for everything to become official, you can start collecting some of your new profiles.  Grab your .com and your Gmail to start.  Gmail won’t let you transfer the name of your account from one name to another, BUT it will let you forward from one account to another, and import all of your messages, so there is no reason to delay in grabbing the account you will eventually use.  Choosing your Twitter should technically also save you the concern of someone else grabbing it while you are engaged, however, a word of warning – you do need to release the new name before you can change your old account, so it may be a little trickier than changing your name on Pinterest or Facebook.

Making the Change – What’s easy, and what’s not, AND how to do it.

Next Steps

SEO Chicks provide the valuable advice to be careful when changing your accounts.  Many online accounts will be attached to other accounts (such as Facebook and Twitter), and you have to make sure all of the links still work after changing usernames and emails for those accounts.  They also wisely suggest keeping your avatar while you are doing your initial name change.  There will be enough confusion when you change your name, so keeping the consistency of your old image will help people know it’s you.

This blog post may have been more therapy for me than anything else.  While intimidating, it shows me that moving through my social media profiles are just as doable as moving through the cards in my wallet.  Of course, I know that there will always be unforeseen challenges – such as changing the name on all of my Student Affairs themed infographics (esp. after I lost my hard drive with all of the original work), but I will get through that as well.  That is what Photoshop is for!

Anyone have any other name change tips?  Post them in the comments, I would love to hear your approach to this branding challenge.

What’s in a name? Changing your online identity after marriage

Follow Friday: Financial Empowerment

by Jess (Faulk) Samuels

This time of year I am always searching the web for the best deals, the best gifts, and the ideas on how to save money during a time when expenses can skyrocket.  Between that flight home, gifts for the family, and gift exchanges in the office, you can end up spending way more than you intended to.  As student affairs professionals, you are likely on a tight budget, paying down school loans while saving for your financial goals.  Today’s follow Friday highlight two sites, run by women, and for women to help you plan for the future, and save right now.

LearnVest, @LearnVest

This website was first brought to my attention when I met the founder, Alexa von Tobel,  at Internet Week New York.  I was inspired by her focus on educating women about money.  The free version of this site offers education bootcamps on everything from “living a debt free life” to “getting hitched.”  Also, like it allows for you to set up a budget and link bank accounts so you can plan better, for big life moments, or just making sure you have enough saved for all of the Hanukkah gifts you plan on buying.

Money Saving Mom @moneysavingmom

I stumbled upon this site when I was looking for online coupons.  This site is run by an awesome, authentic mom, Crystal Paine, who prides herself on saving money and offering tips for you to as well.  In her bio, she states, that her mission “is to challenge women to wisely steward their time and resources and live life on purpose.”  I was especially impressed by the organization, with drop down menus for coupons, store deals, and freebies.

I am a sucker when it comes to beautiful design, and easy to navigate layout –  which both of these sites do very well.  Do  you have favorite sites for money saving, money planning, and empowering us to know our finances?  Share them in the comments!


Follow Friday: Financial Empowerment

Another Running Metaphor

By Kathryn Magura

I know, I know, my title made you groan. But I got your attention right? Well, before you close your browser, hear me out. I’ve been thinking a lot the last few weeks about why I continue to try running. I don’t like it much, and I’m not particularly good at it. Quite the endorsement, right? Why don’t I quit? Good question.

Last night, a friend of mine sent me the following blog post about why one seasoned blogger thinks more women don’t follow a career as a computer programmer. After reading that post, it occurred to me: running is my new technology. Huh? Still with me?

While I think the aforementioned blogger is misguided in his thoughts on why women aren’t getting into computer programming (as evidenced by this previous post), it got me thinking about why I never thought I’d be good working with technology – which made the discovery that I am actually very good at technology that much more of a pleasant surprise!

I never thought I was good with technology, but I never really gave it a shot until I started working professionally. Why didn’t I think I was good with it? I don’t think anyone ever told me I was bad. And I’d certainly been an early adopter of the internet, and all the fun tools associated with it, but I guess I never equated that to technology skill. I didn’t really know if I had any skills with computers or technology until I started using it and my intuitive senses took over.

On many levels, my thoughts about my running ability parallel my initial thoughts on my skills with technology. I have never been much of a fan of running, partially because I never thought I was any good at it. Granted, I never really tried much, but the few times I HAD run, I wasn’t much of a fan. Sound familiar?

So there it is, I run because I never thought I would be any good at it. Am I good runner? Well, I haven’t quit yet, isn’t that what matters? Besides, I’m not competing with the person on the treadmill next to me, I’m competing with my own inner demons and self-deprecating lies that tell me I’m no good at running. I’ve believed those lies for far too long, just like I did when I didn’t think I was any good with technology. Don’t I owe myself the chance to prove myself wrong?

Another Running Metaphor

Linkage Love: Productivity Jump Start

by Jess Faulk

This coming Monday I will be teaching a session at the Boston Nonprofit Center on Productivity #Techtips for the organization Socializing for Justice (My 2012 SAWTT blog post on last year’s presentation).  When I began thinking about teaching folks about the technology they can use to be more productive, I also started to reflect more on the behaviors we need to take on to be more productive.  I believe you need both to truly find success.  So this week’s linkage love is pointing you in the direction of some fabulous women’s blogs talking about productivity.

How to Be More Productive and Accomplish the Big Things That Really Matter

Alex Grant entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist, writes in her blog, “The secret to creating the life you want: Be proactive, not reactive.”  She writes about how important it is to be make priorities, and make peace with the fact that you can’t do it all.  I was particularly impressed that she actually had a “tweet this” link in her blog to share the idea.  What a cool idea!

How to Maximize Your Productivity in the Morning

Jessica Lawlor, Public Relations and Social Media Professional tells us about how she gets a great start to the day by waking up early and making most of her morning.  While I fear I will never be a morning person, I do like her ideas on planning ahead and being focused on what you want to accomplish.

Linkage Love: Productivity Jump Start