When is a chair not just a chair? When it’s used for taking a stand. That’s what members of the Wheaton community discovered during the winter semester when the Sit With Me project was brought to campus by Colleen Wheeler, assistant director of Wheaton’s Web Strategy Team and one of the founders, with Professor Tom Armstrong, of the Wheaton Autonomous Learning Laboratory (WHALE Lab).
Sit With Me is a national advocacy campaign designed to encourage women to pursue computing careers. Sitting in a red chair, participants have an opportunity to show their support and share stories about women in technology. The project perfectly corresponds with one of the goals of the WHALE Lab—to broaden the interest in computer science beyond those who major in it.
Information technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy, with 1.4 million job openings expected by 2020. Although women make up more than half of the American workforce, they hold only 25 percent of technology and computing jobs, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the creator of Sit With Me.
In the spirit of the project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.