WitsOn Announces Commitment to Equal Futures Partnership, a New White House Initiative Promoting Women in Science

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Online Mentorship Program Sponsored by Piazza and Harvey Mudd College Targets National Priority of Increasing Women's Participation in STEM Careers

Harvey Mudd College and Piazza, the social learning network for students and instructors, joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dignitaries from 12 United Nations member nations, and leaders from nine other U.S.-based organizations in launching the Equal Futures Partnership— a U.N. and White House initiative to improve social and economic conditions for women worldwide. Piazza and Harvey Mudd College jointly sponsor WitsOn, the first online community mentorship program to support students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. Launched last week, WitsOn connects undergraduates pursuing STEM degrees with female mentors from industry and academia who can speak from personal experience about issues of particular concern to young women. More than 60 leading colleges and universities and 10,000 students have signed on to be part of the program, which begins Oct. 1. Within the past week, the Anita Borg Institute has also joined WitsOn as an outreach partner, and more than 70 additional universities have applied to join the program. Students can register at https://piazza.com/witson.

To help young women envision careers in science and technology, the WitsOn program encourages students to ask mentors questions about how they've balanced commitments to career, family, faith and community. The most popular questions will be answered by a diverse group of mentors from dozens of schools and companies. Lead mentors will answer by video. Mentors include Astronaut Mae Jemison, California Institute of Technology Chemist Jackie Barton, Cisco Chief Technology & Strategy Officer Padma Warrior, former Welch-Allyn CEO Julie Shimer, Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green, and Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe.

Recognizing that no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs, President Obama issued a challenge before the U.N. General Assembly in September 2011 to break down barriers to women’s political and economic empowerment. In response to this challenge, Secretary of State Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership, whose goal is for women to participate fully in public life and to lead and benefit from economic growth. In addition to the U.S., the Partnership includes 12 other founding member nations (Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia; as well as the European Union), and is supported by partnerships with the U.N., World Bank and private sector entities including Piazza, Harvey Mudd College, Intel and the Clinton Global Initiative.

"When I met representatives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy last spring with the idea for WitsOn, they couldn't have been more enthusiastic and helpful," said Pooja Sankar, CEO of Piazza. "We're so honored to work with Harvey Mudd College to respond to the Equal Futures Challenge — to enlist the smartest women in America to make sure everyone has an opportunity for a rewarding career in science and technology."

"The Equal Futures Partnership resonates deeply with our efforts at Harvey Mudd College, where the latest first-year class is almost evenly split between men and women," said President Klawe. "Of all the initiatives I've undertaken, I've never seen as much enthusiasm as I have for WitsOn. I think President Obama will see widespread support for the Equal Futures Challenge."

WitsOn uses Piazza's social learning platform, a collaboration platform for college students allowing them to conduct academic work under the guidance of their instructors. In less than two years, Piazza has grown from a handful of students at Stanford to 500,000 across the world, in thousands of classes ranging in size from six to 12,000.

WitsOn is open to any undergraduate student in a U.S. or Canadian college or university. Instructors and administrators can also enroll their students in the program directly. The program runs from Oct. 1 through Nov. 9. Details and registration are available at https://piazza.com/witson.

WitsOn Lead Institutions Providing Mentors Include:

California Institute of Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Claremont Graduate University
Claremont McKenna College
Cornell University
Cumberland University
Daniel Webster College
Dartmouth College
Drexel University
Duke University
Florida State University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvey Mudd College
Kaplan University
Keck Graduate Institute
Kettering University
Loyola Marymount University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Miami University
Mississippi University for Women
Ohio University
Olin College
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University
Pitzer College
Pomona College
Princeton University
Purdue University
Scripps College
Smith College
Stanford University
Tallahassee Community College
Texas A&M University
Truman State University
University of Alberta
University of British Columbia
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of California, Riverside
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of California, San Diego
University of Chicago
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Montana
University of New Hampshire, Durham
University of New Hampshire, Manchester
University of Oregon
University of Texas at Austin
University of Toronto
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Southern California
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

Companies Providing Mentors

Allied Machine and Engineering Corporation
Archer Daniels Midland Co.
Arsenal Medical
ATS Consulting
AT&T Labs Research
Automated Test Equipment
BAE Systems Inc.
Beckman Coulter
Biomedical Research Services
Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Company
Davis Systems
DE Shaw
Drawloop Technologies
GE Energy
Glyde Corporation
General Motors
Hammer Tutoring
Isuzu Manufacturing
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
KD Ventures
Lam Research
Learning Games Network
Liquid Entertainment
Living Classroom Foundation
Livingston & Haven
Lockheed Martin
Logic PD
Magna Powertrain
Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch
Medtronic MiniMed, Inc.
Miss CEO
Northrop Grumman
OpenCell Technologies Inc.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
Pivotal Labs
Pixel Qi Corporation
Ryan Snyder Associates
Simpson Strong-Tie
Social Engine
Tableau Software
Tesla Motors
Thomson Reuters
Tipping Point Partners
Trex Enterprises Corporation
Warner Brothers
Welch Allyn

About Piazza
Founded in 2009 and publicly launched in 2011, Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask and answer questions 24/7, under the guidance of their instructor. Anyone can create a class at Piazza.com to initiate class discussion. Students spend on average four hours a night on Piazza working together in real time with classmates and instructors to find the answers they need at the time they need them. Piazza is FERPA-compliant and used in hundreds of colleges and universities.

For more information, please go to http://www.piazza.com.

About Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College is a national leader in undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The College’s mission is to educate engineers, scientists and mathematicians who are prepared to become leaders in their fields and understand the impact of their work on society. Students learn to problem-solve in a hands-on, collaborative environment; do research alongside outstanding faculty; and develop leadership skills to benefit an increasingly technological world. Located in Claremont, Calif., Harvey Mudd College is a member of The Claremont Colleges Consortium.

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Rhonda Turner

Judy Augsburger