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twenty-sided woman Posts

On the other side of the field trip

Another key part of the Seattle-area IGNITE experience is the class field trip to work locations. A few weeks ago, I got to participate in a panel for an IGNITE class here on a field trip. Around here, Microsoft is the most frequent destination of choice – we can pull out all the stops with things like the Home of The Future tour, an interactive installation designed to mock up – shockingly – the uses of technology in homes 5-10 years out. Typically by invitation only, but a great way to spark an imagination. (But I don’t want that to discourage anyone who wants to help by hosting their own class tours… remember that ALL of this is new for these girls. How often did you get to see a workplace without your parents?)

This most recent panel, a Microsoft on-campus field trip panel for Marysville High School, was actually surprising for me because there were quite a few boys in attendance. Nothing wrong with that, but always a surprise since IGNITE is focused on encouraging girls to pursue careers in technology. I have to admit, my first reaction was trepidation – my memory of high school boys is not a forgiving one, and I was worried they’d be disruptive or disrespectful. I was delighted to find that not only were the guys in attendance polite, but very attentive and they asked some very good questions during Q&A. While I still believe our primary methods (girls-only activities) are useful and valid because they create a safe place where girls can explore and have a voice without being drowned out, it’s a nice surprise to be able to share with both genders for a change. Continue reading On the other side of the field trip

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Medical Memories

It’s been a bit silent here over the past few days because I was going through the ordeal surrounding my very first colonoscopy. I won’t go into the details here, because that’s most certainly not why you came. Suffice it to say that I do not have colon cancer as we feared might be the case, but there is still no better explanation for the symptoms I’ve been enduring for many months. Frustrating, but one has no choice but to live on in the interim. I am exceptionally grateful to the many friends who have sent positive thoughts or prayers…

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Seattle IxDA – Women in Design event

I’m delighted to announce that I will be speaking at the next Seattle meeting of the Interaction Design Association! “Women in Design” Wednesday, May 11 University of Washington Campus Electrical Engineering building, room 105 7:30 PM – doors open at 7PM Flyer: click here I’ll be delivering an updated/expanded version of my Computer Engineer Barbie talk, and will be participating in a panel discussion with Jenny Lam, co-founder and designer at the Jackson Fish Market, a software startup. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered, leave a comment here – if there’s time, I’d love to continue the…

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The Accessibility of the Physical Universe

Having an injury certainly opens your eyes to what others have been dealing with for lifetimes. The friend I mentioned in my earlier post about pain medication has (after 2 months) returned to the office for short periods of time. Today, we ended up talking and expressing our mutual shock at just how HEAVY the doors are at Microsoft. It’s not something an able-bodied person might notice on a day to day basis, but for anyone mobility challenged it can be quite an effort. That’s why I didn’t return to work until I was crutch-free seven weeks after my original knee injury last year – I knew that there was no way I could balance my weight on one foot trying not to drop crutches while simultaneously waving my badge and pulling on the door. Untenable. And frustating… realizing that you can be defeated by a simple door does not inspire one with a lot of confidence about their recovery.

As you explore the world in your somewhat impaired state, you become much more attuned to intentional affordances – but even more so, the lack of intentional affordances in many places. Sometimes the shortfall is simple and severe – I tried to attend a show at the Paramount Theatre last year while still on crutches, using VIP tickets gifted by a kind friend. But the VIP section was on the third floor balcony… and the Paramount has NO ELEVATORS. It boggled my mind that one of the largest venues in Seattle has such a significant accessibility problem. The best they could do for me and a friend is to put temporary chairs at the far left of a row in the orchestra section – fairly bad angle, especially when compared to what we could have had. Have handicapped folks been shoved to the side all this time at that venue?

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The past our parents don’t have

I got a LinkedIn request the other day: “I think I have a funny photo of you next to my Van de Graaf machine when you were an intern at MAYA Design.” I actually laughed out loud when I read this. I can totally remember the day I was playing with the Van de Graaf machine – I can only imagine how silly that photo looks. And it’s a summer of fond memories, too – MAYA was my first internship and my first interaction design job. It was pre-dot-com burst, so the office bore the hallmarks of a bunch of…

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