Marymount Professors Encourage Female App Innovators

Two Marymount University professors presented a paper on inspiring female innovators at the 20th Americas Conference of Information Systems last month in Savannah, Ga.

Dr. Michelle Liu and Dr. Diane Murphy discussed “Inspiring and Cultivating Female Innovators through Mobile App Development” on Aug. 9. Their work was sponsored by the National Science Foundation with the goal of creating a mobile application development curriculum to prepare non-science, technology, engineering and mathematics students with substantial STEM competencies and inspire them to participate in the computing field in college and as a career.

Often, females are discouraged from entering computing, technology and innovation fields because they’re considered boring or lonely careers.

“We aim to break the stereotypes and create a female-friendly, gender-neutral classroom environment and culture,” the professors wrote.

The presentation followed work Liu and Murphy did in July, when they ran a technology summer institute for 30 high school students. That five-day session culminated with a successful Mobile App Expo held on the last afternoon, where 10 apps were demonstrated.

“We believe mobile apps are a good way to attract women into tech fields because they can relate to them,” Murphy said. “It was interesting, really, talking about the types of apps they developed intuitively, whether guys went into sports or women went into fashion.”

Examples included a female-created WeatherStyle app with graphics of weather appropriate clothing that could be worn during the coming week. A male-created app allowed users to check all of their fantasy league teams in one central place.

Murphy, the chair of Marymount’s Department of Information of Technology, has been at the school since 2002. Liu, an assistant professor of information technology, came to Marymount in 2008.