Computer science professor wins tech honor

A professor at BW was recently recognized for her achievements in encouraging students and breaking down the barriers that women face in tech fields. He

University Relations

r insight has been shaped by her years as a student, professor, and mentor. In addition to the general need for more professionals in computing, there is also a need for a gender-balance across tech fields. Dr. Jodi Tims, chair of the Computer Science and Engineering department at Baldwin Wallace, received The Next Generation Award-Women in Tech by The Greater Cleveland Partnership. Tims was presented the award last year in October at the first annual Innovation and Leadership in Technology Awards. “It was an inaugural set of awards, and I was the first person to receive this education-focused award,” said Tims. “I was very pleased to have gotten the award and was humbled by the experience.” The ITLAs were held at the conclusion of the BusinessTECH18 Conference. The conference featured notable keynote speakers, sessions, and opportunities to network for leaders in technology. Tims has been active in col
laborating with local tech organizations, including RITE, an IT workforce alliance in Northeast Ohio. “I do a lot of work with an organization called RITE,” said Tims. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of business leaders in the community, the CIO’S and business leaders, through that type of work. A lot of them were in the audience. It was fun.” In addition to Tim’s involvement with RITE, she’s also chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W). “The ACM-W is a globally-focused organization,” said Tims. “We have about three or four projects that we do.” The organization mostly aims to support college-aged women. “Most of them support undergraduate students and graduate students,” said Tims. “We do projects where students can have mini conferences.” The conferences offer women in the field a chance to learn and network in an encouraging environment. “We have two-day conferences where the girls go and realize that suddenly they’re not the only girl in the room,” said Tims. This is the second year that Tims has been chair of the ACM-W. She plans to continue in her role as chair for
another term. “I think it was a series of events [that inspired me],” said Tims. “I did my undergraduate work, my master’s work, my PhD work during a time period where there were more women in computing than there are now. But, it was beginning to decline in numbers.” Tims’s mentor in education encouraged her to become active in the community. “My PhD thesis advisor was actually the person who most inspired me to get involved in the community,” said Tims. “She herself was an advocate for women.” After Tims had started teaching, her thesis advisor nominated her to be part of a project of mentoring workshops for women in computing. “I started to know the community of people who work really hard in trying to mentor and provide support for women,” said Tims. “It just snowballed from there.” As time went on, Tims noticed that the decline in numbers of women being involved in tech fields raised concerns about gender inequality. “It can be a pretty unpleasant place if you get in the wrong environment,” said Tims. “There are a lot of guys who unfortunately don’t appreciate women.” Tims believes that it’s important to prepare women for the adversity that they may face. “It’s important that we let them know that it’s okay to be
a woman in tech,” said Tims. “And give them a few ways to deal with situations they might run into in that environment.” Through her mentoring, Tims has found that some women feel pressured to blend in with the majority. “In some cases, women just don’t know how to respond. They realize that they’re a minority pretty quickly.” said Tims. “Some women think that the only way they can make their way is to try to become like one of the guys.” Tims believes that women don’t have to change themselves in order to be successful in the tech industry. “We try to get them to understand that there are alternatives, and that there are things they can do to help educate their male counterparts,” said Tims. Tims emphasizes that the Computer Science and Engineering field needs more people. “Computing is an important part of the economy,” said Tims. “There are not enough people who know how to work with the technology to fill all of the positions.” Tims believes that the increase in the need of professionals in the field is another reason to encourage women to stay in the tech industry or consider computing as a career. “If we don’t have women involved in the space,” said Tims. “It’s not as productive, and the products created don’t connect to all of society.”