• Hacking Women Helping Women

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Rane Johnson-Stempson

    By 2018, predicts the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 1.4 million technology jobs in the United States will be unfilled. At current rates for issuance of computer-science degrees, only 61 percent of those openings will be filled—and just 29 percent of the applicants for those will be women.

    It’s quite a disconnect. A study has shown that 57 percent of women earn undergraduate degrees, but only 18 percent of them graduate with a computer-science degree—this in a clean, relatively well-paid industry. Why?

    Aware of such trends, Microsoft representatives visiting universities across the world have been making pertinent observations, and they have learned that women find it difficult to be recognized for their technical capabilities—and often lack confidence in those abilities. Another factor is that the first couple of years of computer-science studies can be difficult, abstract, and solitary, making it difficult to see how the creativity and collaboration women want in a job might be applicable. 

    In addition, women are motivated to pursue opportunities to make an impact or give back to society, and they don’t see how computer science can help them do so. Finally, there is a death of women in computer-science faculties, so woman undergrads often have no role models.

    But the situation, while dire, is not hopeless, and therein lies the momentum behind the second annual International Women’s Hackathon, being held April 25-27.

  • Chayes, Lamport Elected Fellows of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

    Posted by Rob Knies

    American Academy of Arts & Sciences logo

    George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, meet Jennifer Chayes and Leslie Lamport.

    Figuratively speaking, that’s what happened on April 23, when the American Academy of Arts & Sciences announced that Chayes and Lamport, of Microsoft Research, have been elected as Fellows.

    Chayes, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City, and Lamport, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, thus join the august company of Washington, the first U.S. president, and Franklin, one of the country’s Founding Fathers. Other notable Academy Fellows include the likes of Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Mead, and Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Researcher Teevan Wins Borg Early Career Award

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Jaime Teevan

    Jaime Teevan, it seems, can do it all. Since joining Microsoft Research in 2006, her focus on personalized search has led to a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a couple of best-paper awards from prestigious academic conferences, and recognition from Technology Review as one of the world’s top young innovators. She has established herself as among Microsoft's leaders of the future.

    Thus, it comes as little surprise that on April 22, the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) has named Teevan as the 2014 winner of the Anita Borg Early Career Award.

    That honor, named after the late Anita Borg, a CRA-W pioneer, is presented annually to a woman in computer science and/or engineering at a relatively early state in her career who has made significant research contributions while also having a positive, significant impact on advancing women in the computer-research community.

    Oh, and one other thing: Teevan is also the mother of four children under the age of 10—all of them boys.

  • Office Remote: Getting Better and Better

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Office Remote logo

    In November, Microsoft announced the availability for download of Office Remote, the product of collaboration between Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Office engineering team that enables a number of useful features for those delivering business presentations.

    Office Remote transforms a Windows Phone 8 device into a presentation-management tool. Users can use it to interact with Office on their PCs, enabling them to control WordExcel, and PowerPoint from across a room. Presenters are then free to walk freely while talking. They can start PowerPoint, advance slides, see speaker notes, and deploy an on-screen laser pointer. They also can navigate between Excel worksheets and graphs or scroll quickly through a Word document or jump to specific sections within the doc.

    The response to these features has been gratifying—just ask Bert Van Hoof, particularly now that an updated version of Office Remote has become available in the Windows Phone Store.

  • Naiad: Big-Data Analysts Welcome

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Naiad logo

    Earlier today, during Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley TechFair, we learned about visualization of big-data collections using Holograph. Another aspect of the big-data movement, though, is enabling data analysts to develop an application and then deploy it seamlessly to the cloud.

    Such processing was the focus of the TechFair project called Naiad on Azure: Rich, Interactive Cloud Analytics, the subject of plenty of interest on the show floor. Derek Murray, a researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, host of the event, found a few moments to pull himself away to discuss the latest extension of the Naiad effort.