imageLego & Sydney Girl Geeks combine for the first Australian Women Build Event, the May Geek Girl Dinner hosted by Microsoft! 

I have just this minute received confirmation that the Women Build Lego Serious event is confirmed as being run as part of this months May Sydney Geek Girl Dinner! [REGISTER HERE]

I was so lucky to attend the first Women Build Lego Serious Play event at PDC in LA last year, and since then I have really wanted to bring the concept to Australia. I am so excited that we have been able to get all of the resources & wonderful people available to help out to make this a reality!

The topic for this Lego Serious Play, Women Build Event is focused around encouraging women to study technical subjects at University, and also the ways in which we as a community can support them once there.

We have some fantastic Industry role models already lined up to facilitate a table each at the event including Kate Carruthers (Silicon Federation), Damana Madden (Thoughtworks), Lisa Herrod (Scenario Seven), Penny Hagen (Self Employed & Phd Candidate at UTS), Claudia Mikaelian (Yahoo), Alice Boxall (Google), Cathie McGinn (Geekdom) and more. Each of which have achieved amazing results in their area of chosen focus within IT.

We will have a special guest attending from Microsoft US: Lindsay Rutter who also attended the first Women Build in PDC and is a trained facilitator. She is here for holidays & has been kind enough to offer to pop in & help us out!

Of course, our local Academic Evangelist Andrew Parsons will be helping to make sure everything runs smoothly on the night & to help connect our Student guests to the role models they are interested in chatting to. Please let him know in advance if there's anyone you’d like him to make sure you meet!

The Women Build event will be followed up with the entertainment and networking component of the evening, where everyone will have the opportunity to get hands on with the Xbox 360 games system. It will be MC’d by the lovely Ashley Jenkins, Fclip_image002ragdoll extraordinaire, site manager for Xbox.com and programmer of the Xbox LIVE interface.Finger food and drinks will be provided.

This event wouldn't be happening at all without the support of our local X-Box team – especially Mariana Cidade. Much thanks to them!

I would also really like to thank Denise Meyerson from MCI for volunteering her time & experience as a Lego Serious Play Facilitator to run the Women Build component of the evening. Without her help & the kind donation of her time – this event wouldn't be happening either.

clip_image001

 

So what is Women Build?

image  The  WomenBuild program is specifically designed to address the decline of female talent and leadership in the computer science industry.  Microsoft partnered with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY (LSP) through Robert Rasmussen & Associates to create a unique interactive workshop, using LEGO® Bricks to model solutions for growing strong female leaders in the software industry.

WomenBuild is not only a program but a growing community that provides accessibility to female role models, access to resources, and an open communication path to the Microsoft Women in Technology community.

Since the fall of 2008, we’ve run events WomenBuild events in the following cities: in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Boston, Washington DC,  Orlando, Dallas,  San Francisco, and Seattle . The WomenBuild workshop first piloted at PDC (Professional Developers Conference) and then continued on for the 11 city MSDN Developer Conference (MDC).  WomenBuild has generated interest from the press, culminating with a story sharing the Washington Times coverage with President Obama on inauguration day in Washington DC. (Copies are available on Ebay!) And soon, LEGO fans will hear about WomenBuild, when  BrickJournal publishes its feature story in its glossy magazine, and Microsoft presents the general session at the leading US LEGO fan conference, BrickWorld, with expected public attendance of 10,000.

Every WomenBuild workshop builds upon the foundation of the last. In the last WomenBuild, Microsoft took the findings and suggestions from these 11 cities and reviewed them at TechReady8, an internal Microsoft conference held in Seattle, February 1st as part of their own internal WomenBuild event!  Over a hundred Microsoft women employees took time to prioritize the top suggestions provided during PDC & MDC and design solutions to address these needs. These solutions will serve as a call to action on what Microsoft can do to help address the issue.

The WomenBuild program has attracted interest from similar large corporations looking to run a WomenBuild workshop internally. Academic institutions from elementary school to high schools are looking to adapt the soon to be launched, GirlsBuild and Kids Build programs, to help capture science and technology passions in early ages. 

The WomenBuild program incorporates a hands-on process that draws on the power of creative thinking to shift group conversation from talking heads to focused minds. Each team will be run as a facilitated conversation with physical Lego brick constructions that will powerfully shift a group to more productive outcomes by accomplishing a deeper mining of the diverse wisdom within the group and a clearer shared conclusion on inspirational career paths for women in the technical field. Through this workshop, attendees will share real life experiences, discuss challenges, network & build on-going relationships with other women who are attending the PDC conference. Ultimately, attendees of this workshop will find ways to unleash their creative thinking and transform ideas into concrete concepts.

In this workshop, attendees participate in an environment of rich, interactive experiences by modelling real-life business challenges and solutions with LEGO® Bricks as part of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY Program (LSP). WomenBuild opens minds to exciting and inspirational ideas on how to be a thought leader in the technical field. We work together in small groups to brainstorm and problem solve in a collaborative and productive way. The workshop includes people in various responsibility areas in teams. This way each role can impart their own unique perspective to the group, while collectively creating shared understandings that direct future activity effectively. WomenBuild workshops are not exclusive to women, as these topics apply both to men and women.

Microsoft took the findings and suggestions from the 12 city tour and reviewed them at TechReady8, an internal Microsoft conference held in Seattle, February 1st as part of their own internal WomenBuild event!  Over a hundred Microsoft women employees took time to prioritize the top suggestions provided during PDC & MDC and design solutions to address these needs. These solutions will serve as a call to action on what Microsoft can do to help address issues such as:

o   Lack of accessibility and visibility of female leader roles in software industry

o   Proclivity towards math/science/technology is not encouraged for girls early on in academic institutions

o   Technology/computer science appears dry and boring and not worth the work-life balance investment

o   Software applications are not relevant to females. They are designed by men for men

o   Lack of support, flexibility and career opportunities make it tempting for women in technology to get out

o   Software development is not creative with little no interaction

The community is continually growing on Facebook! Join now!

Please contact wbboard@microsoft.com for more information.