The cover of The Internet of Women.


The Internet of Women

December 12, 2016

It’s time for change. Engineering may currently be dominated by men, but according to editors of a new book, that can and should shift. In The Internet of Women: Accelerating Culture Change, co-editors Nada Anid, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, NYIT alumna Laurie Cantileno (Computer Science, B.S. ’85), Monique J. Morrow, and Rahilla Zafar examine the important role that women play in the male-dominated fields of engineering and computer science and what it will take to change the culture and close the gender gap.

“Women make up 50 percent of the population and should be encouraged to enter all fields, including those like engineering that are male-dominated,” said Anid. To help inspire the next generation of women engineers and computer scientists, the book showcases female engineers from around the world and delves into their struggles to succeed in their careers, as well as how they excel at solving real-world problems. “We started by establishing The Internet of Women as a Trade (Service) Mark and decided to reach a wider network of women through the book by telling personal stories, researching where women stand, and showing what it will take for them to advance into leadership positions,” said Anid.

For example, one woman talks about not having water available in her town on a daily basis which made it difficult for her to go school on those days and shares how she was going to change that. Another woman recounts the creation of her San Francisco-based business using big data to understand diversity in the recruitment pipelines, a third woman explains how she established a startup accelerator in Gaza to give women who live there more exposure to technology, and how female venture capitalists are investing solely in female tech startups.

“Dr. Anid and I started this because we felt it was time for these women to be heard,” said Cantileno, service delivery executive at Cisco Systems. She along with Morrow and Anid came up with the idea for the book. “We felt it was time to be clear on what our task is and time for the world to be inspired and made uncomfortable enough to elicit change.”

The book also looks at STEM education in this country. In her chapter, Anid discusses the state of women engineers and computer scientists in academia, how there hasn’t been much progress in the U.S. to attract more females into engineering and computing sciences programs, and what it will take to change that.

NYIT, she explained to The Box, is doing its part by taking the lead in encouraging women to enter STEM careers by increasing awareness about engineering and changing the stereotypes about what engineers look like and how they speak and think. “NYIT is doing several important things,” she noted. “We’re partnering with K-12 teachers, principals, and counselors to create programs that showcase engineering to both genders; we’re communicating with high school females in a targeted manner and creating opportunities for them to visit NYIT and make them feel it’s a good fit for them; and we’re creating special scholarships for meritorious female students who want to pursue engineering and computer science. We are also forming an NYIT engineering alumnae group that will work closely with our female students leading to a TEDx event in spring 2017 about Persistence and Building Community.”

Exploring women in STEM at all levels was an important aspect to the book, as was giving readers a plan of action. “We investigate as many areas of pertinence as possible, from the young to the old,” said Cantileno. “At the end of the book we provide what is called the Manifesto that outlines specifically what everyone can do to move this needle and make their impact.”

The Internet of Women has already started inspiring its audience. The book had 9,000 downloads the day of the Kindle launch in November. And royalties from the book will be donated to an NYIT scholarship in support of female students in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences.

“Women and girls have been suppressed for far too long. We add a unique slant and perspective in this world. We have some unique characteristics that are particularly important at this inflection point in our global society,” said Cantileno.

Purchase the book on Amazon.