They’re init(together)

Student group launches conference to facilitate growth of vibrant female tech community in Southern California

The first-ever (init)together conference, organized this spring by the Bren School student organization Women in Information and Computer Sciences (WICS), drew more than 300 attendees from throughout Southern California.

Held April 14 at the UC Irvine Student Center, init(together) featured a series of panel discussions and workshops for women seeking to develop their skills in computing. The sold-out event also included a career expo with such companies as Google, Intel and Microsoft, and a mentorship program that connected female computing students and women entering industry with faculty and professionals in the region.

“The turnout was way beyond what we could have anticipated,” said WICS president Katherine Lo. “We were met with a huge amount of enthusiasm from students across Southern California — some even drove to Irvine from as far as Santa Barbara.”

The init(together) speaker lineup included Kim Swift, creative director at Airtight Games; Shirley Lin, executive managing director of 800 Birds, a build engine for early stage startups; and Tara Tiger Brown, a tech entrepreneur, educator and opinion writer who wrote a Forbes piece about her init(together) experience.

“It was incredible to hear students share their goals and renewed motivation from interacting with the inspirational women who spoke at init(together),” Lo said. “One speaker recounted that, after a panel, an attendee approached her to say that she has decided to pursue a career in hardware that she had previously dismissed as unrealistic. It’s amazing to discover that init(together) had such an immediate impact.”