Leila Takayama and Melody Ivory to Keynote Women in Tech Symposium 2021

Leila Takayama and Melody Ivory to Keynote Women in Tech Symposium 2021

Two leading experts in human-computer interaction to keynote the annual Women in Tech Symposium on March 12, 2021.

Leila Takayama, associate professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz, and Melody Ivory, Technologist at Thrivafy, will be the keynote speakers at this year’s Women in Tech Symposium.

Now in its fifth year, this annual symposium will showcase sector opportunities, current challenges, and the career paths of experts in human-computer interaction (HCI). The symposium will kick-off with a fireside chat between Leila Takayama and Dean of Berkeley Engineering Tsu-Jae King Liu on defining the new era of human-computer interaction. Liu is the first woman to lead the college and co-founder of the Women in Tech Initiative. Melody Ivory will close the event with a talk titled, “Sustainable Disruption: Ensuring an #InclusiveHCI Future Is Not Enough.”

Leila Takayama is a researcher in human-robot interaction with a background in the cognitive and social sciences. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, she is an Associate Professor of Computational Media, where she leads a research lab and teaches courses on human-computer interaction. Prior to UC Santa Cruz, she was a senior user experience researcher at GoogleX and was a research scientist and area manager for human-robot interaction at Willow Garage. She is a World Economic Forum Global Future Council Member and Young Global Leader. In 2015, she was presented with the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society Early Career Award. In 2012, she was named a TR35 winner and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company.

Watch Takayama’s TEDTalk, “What Is It Like to Be a Robot?”:

Melody Ivory is a scientist and a poet. At Thrivafy, she’s disrupting the status quo for the marginalized majority with smart solutions to inspire, enlighten, and empower all to stop settling in life, at work, and with tech. She is the first Black woman to earn a computer science Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. In addition to this degree, she holds an MBA from Wharton and a BS with honors in computer science and math from Purdue. She has been a Google innovation facilitator and product manager for consumer electronics and software. She was an inaugural Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar. She has decades of experience in data science/ethics, software technology, and tech education across industries and organizations like GE, Microsoft, and the University of Washington.

Other speakers at the symposium include Katia Canepa Vega (UC Davis), Ankita Raturi (Purdue University), Jenna Rodriguez (CERES Imaging), Christina Harrington (DePaul University), Uma Balakrishnan (Tesla), and more. The event will also feature presentations of the Women in Tech Initiative’s Athena Awards.

With generous sponsorship from Lam Research, Facebook, and others, the virtual event will be held on Friday, March 12. In addition to the keynote presentations, the symposium’s program includes panel discussions, breakout sessions, and opportunities to network.

Learn more about the 2021 Women in Tech Symposium and register to attend >


The Women in Technology Initiative at the University of California is a program jointly launched in 2017 by CITRIS and the Banatao Institute and Berkeley Engineering to advocate for women in the tech industry and academia to be proportionately represented and equitably compensated throughout the professional ranks.

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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