Announcing the 2017 WITI@UC Athena Awards

To recognize the accomplishments of technology leaders and organizations fostering interest in computer science for the next generation of women and girls, the Women in Technology Initiative at the University of California announces the 2017 WITI@UC Athena Awards for Women in Technology.

Winners will be recognized at a public symposium exploring innovation and entrepreneurship for women in technology on November 30, 2017, at the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus in Santa Clara, CA.

Nominations opened in summer 2017 and resulted in 65 submissions in four categories: academic leadership, executive leadership, early career, and next-generation engagement. Awardees were selected by a distinguished panel of representatives from academia and industry.



Fei-Fei Li

Fei-Fei Li
Academic Leadership Award

The Academic Leadership Award goes to Fei-Fei Li, associate professor of computer science at Stanford University and chief scientist at Google, Inc.

Born in Beijing, Professor Li received her doctorate in electrical engineering from Caltech in 2005 and in 2009 joined the faculty at Stanford, where she now directs the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. She is also chief scientist of AI and machine learning at Google Cloud. Her passion to educate and promote women in technical fields led several years ago to the launch of a summer seminar at Stanford designed for high schoolers. By day, young women learn the principles of IT, and in the evening, they are introduced to women in technical professions to learn about various STEM career paths.


Laura Haas

Laura Haas
Executive Leadership Award

The Executive Leadership Award goes to Laura Haas, dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Known for foundational research on information integration technology, Professor Haas earned her Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Texas at Austin and an A.B. in applied mathematics and computer science from Harvard. She became dean of the UMass College of Information and Computer Sciences in August, after 36 years at IBM. Haas most recently served as director of IBM’s Accelerated Discovery Lab. She is an IBM Fellow, an ACM Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. “Laura Haas is a visionary leader in the field of computer science who has built major engines of basic and applied research for one of the most renowned firms in the world,” said UMass Amherst Provost Katherine Newman, announcing the appointment in February.


Jessica Ladd

Jessica Ladd
Early Career Award

The Early Career Award goes to Jessica Ladd, founder and CEO of Callisto, a software platform for survivors of sexual assault.

An infectious disease epidemiologist by training, Jessica Ladd received her Masters in Public Health at Johns Hopkins and her B.A. in Public Policy/Human Sexuality at Pomona College. In August 2016, she founded Callisto, a software platform for survivors of sexual assault, now being deployed at universities nationwide. With many campus sexual assaults perpetrated by serial offenders, Callisto’s innovative “information escrow” technology aims to cut the numbers of repeat offenders by 59 percent. Recruiting and employing talented women at fair pay, Ladd is building a women-run company that’s a counterpoint to Silicon Valley’s “tech-bro” culture. For her work, Ladd has been featured in the New York Times and as a TED Fellow.


Claire Shorall

Claire Shorall
Next Generation Engagement Award

The Next Generation Engagement Award goes to Claire Shorall, computer science educator and advocate, and principal of Neo.

Claire Shorall earned a B.A. in biological sciences and religious studies at Rice University in 2010. As manager of computer science in the Oakland Unified School District, she created and implemented the district-wide vision for computer science education – leading to an increase in enrollment in CS courses from 200 students in 2014-15 to 4,000 in 2017-18. She supported more than 30 educators to offer high-quality AP Computer Science Principles through, and partnered with public, private, and nonprofit agencies to expand work-based learning and extracurricular opportunities. She has been recognized nationally as one of 10 recipients of Teach for America’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

To view the program for the “Women in Tech: A Symposium on Innovation & Entrepreneurship” on November 30, 2017, at the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus, visit

Contact: Camille Crittenden,; also see

Women in Tech is presented by the Women in Technology Initiative at the University of California (WITI@UC), CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Berkeley College of Engineering, the Center for Long-term Cybersecurity and other partners from industry and academia.