The iSchool Graduate Student Organization’s Executive Board recently put on one of the largest collaborative events in recent years. Funded by GSO and in conjunction with the It Girls retreat, iSGO worked with WiTec, Nahni Kali, ACM, and LISSA to put on the first “Women in Information Management” Symposium. Ten minutes before 5:00 on October 10th, 2016, the eBoard was understandably tense. Weeks of preparation, moving parts, waves of emails, and a weekend retreat all finally came together in Schine 304.

The event was focused on women in the field of Information Studies. The It Girls retreat “aims to engage, inspire, and celebrate young women and their potential in technology.” However, the Symposium looked at moving college-aged women to pursue careers in IM.


At 5:00 pm, the room was still filling up with students and professors, graduates and undergraduates, men and women. The student facilitators for the evening were iSGO Vice President and ACM President Amber Evans and iSGO Project Manager and WiTec President Josephine Bellon. As they started introductions, it became clear that the panel’s combined experiences were impressive, to say the least.

I had the privilege of working on this event from start to finish. Along with the rest of the iSGO eBoard, I spent weeks trying to get the word out, hoping to draw a crowd. All of that buildup and work came together during the event, which I was able to view through the lens of a camera. The pictures say a lot. I could see the energy in the room. I captured how the speakers’ voices make an impact. And I was able to record the symposium overall.

The Women in Information Management

iSGO hosted five speakers from companies with big names (IBM, Ernst and Young, Lockheed Martin, and Advance/Newhouse), but the women who spoke at the panel stood out on their own merit. The conversational flow made for a relaxed environment. Speakers were alternately joking and offering sage advice, always answering thoughtfully. However, those in the audience saw the wisdom and experience at the front of the room.

Featured panelists included:

  • SU Alumna Sudhira Chavan, a Senior Consultant in Ernst and Young’s “Forensic Technology and Discovery Services”
  • Alia Shah, a Nest Verification Lead and Senior Engineer with IBM’S System and Technology Group
  • Alexandra Echegaray, a chip hardware Physical Design Engineer for IBM Systems
  • Danielle Saponara, a Subcontract Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and adjunct professor at the iSchool
  • Nomi Bergman, the President of Advance/Newhouse Partnership

Discussion and Discourse

Topics of discussion ranged from leadership styles to dealing with failure. A subject of particular interest was challenges women face in the field and are still facing today. With impactful and insightful responses, the speakers kept those in attendance highly engaged. Even after the official end of the event, conversations, connections, and questions were still filling up Schine 304.

Putting together the “Women in Information Management” Symposium was a long process. The resulting event was aimed at encouraging and inspiring future woman innovators, as well as celebrating the accomplishments of female leaders currently in the field. I believe that iSGO’s hard work paid off, and I, with the rest of the executive board, am excited to see where the event goes in the coming years. Through continued collaboration with The It Girls, we hope that this symposium will lead to a new wave of female innovators, visionaries, and leaders in the field of Information Management.