As technology trends show, the tech industry is always one step ahead regarding innovation. However, one region seems to be lagging behind—gender diversity. The World Bank reports that globally women make up less than 40% of the global workforce. Women are consistently highly underrepresented in the technology field. Women in the tech industry face many challenges, from education to employment and business. In order to help foster a stronger community for women in tech, the UT Dallas Computer Science Department has hosted a monthly lecture series called the Grace Series since the Fall of 2015. Since its inception, 39 speakers have given talks. The Grace Series recognizes women and their accomplishments. The Grace Series aims to offer fresh perspectives and different approaches for women to navigate the technology field, whether in academia or industry. The second spring 2023 Grace Series speaker featured Saritha Reddy, Cybersecurity Leader and Director, Product Security at Capital One and UT Dallas CS Alumna.
The Grace Series Talks at UT Dallas generally feature a wide range of speakers, including UT Dallas Computer Science and Software Engineering alumni, UT Dallas CS/SE professors, and other distinguished females as well as male technologists in the field. Drs. Pushpa Kumar, Janell Straach, and Linda Morales conceived the UT Dallas Grace Series after attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (GHC) several years ago. Through the years, additional faculty members have become involved with the series, including Drs. Karen Mazidi, Bhavani Thuraisingham, Mehra N. Borazjany, Gity Karami, and Anjum Chida. The conference, fittingly named after the woman who helped pioneer computer programming, Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, has involved presentations designed to bring research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Every year, GHC brings together the community of female and male technologists, highlighting the best minds in computing and spotlighting the contributions of women to computing. The UT Dallas Computer Science Grace Series lectures follow the GHC Conference format.
In her talk titled “Advice I Would Give My Younger Self Starting Off Her Career Journey,” Saritha Reddy spoke about her career journey, shared aspects that shaped her career, as well as sharing lessons she’s learned as both a first-generation immigrant, an international student in the United States, and a woman professional in corporate America. Throughout her talk, Saritha identified many of the challenges international students face during their journey through academia and even their careers. Through her talk, she hoped that by sharing what she has learned throughout her journey, she would be helping current students starting their own career journeys from UT Dallas and smooth the way for their own successful careers.
During her talk, she gave her top ten pieces of wisdom or her “treasure chest of wisdom,” which included the following:
- Self Confidence is important, and always believe in yourself – Take risks! Stand up for yourself! Don’t let anyone talk you down or disrespect you!
- Persistence: set high goals and persist – Take up the challenge of every opportunity and explore it!
- Integrity is important – say what you mean and do what you say.
- Be a lifelong learner – Set aside time for learning. Get certificates, attend conferences, and invest in your education.
- Build a diverse network – The more diverse your network, the better! Remember, different; the more different points of view you have, the better.
- Give yourself a break – People who take regular breaks are more productive!
- Give in order to receive – If it is within your means to help someone, do it!
- It is ok to be vulnerable – Being vulnerable does not mean you are weak; it makes you stronger, more human, and more approachable.
- Be yourself – act more humble – Be true to who you are. Don’t forget your roots, and don’t forget the people who helped you along the way.
- Choose a supportive partner – Find a supportive partner because this will be the best and most important gift to your career because they will lift and support you throughout your journey. They will act as your soundboard and be your biggest champion.
Saritha is currently the Director of Cybersecurity at Capital One, leading a team of highly talented security professionals supporting the Capital One credit card business functions. Saritha is an alumnus of UT Dallas with a master’s degree in software engineering from UT Dallas and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Bangalore University, India.
Prior to working at Capital One, Saritha spent over 17 years in several leadership roles at Citigroup. She served as a Senior Vice President in Applications Security, where her focus was on application security architecture for Citigroup’s Global Functions Technology applications. She was also a member of Citigroup’s Security Architecture Council, which formulates and drives the strategic security roadmap, enterprise decisions, and standardizations for cybersecurity in Citigroup. In her previous roles at Citi, she managed and led global development teams architecting, building, and deploying Citigroup’s mobile banking and credit card payments apps in the US, Asia, Europe, and Australia.
Saritha lives in Plano, TX, and is passionate about mentoring girls. She is the founding committee member of the Little Elm ISD Mayors Math Challenge for elementary, middle, and high school students. She loves traveling, reading eclectic literature, running, and hiking, and she is always up for an adventure and a good laugh!
Since the inception of the UT Dallas Grace Series in the spring of 2015, a total of thirty-nine inspiring women and men have spoken, including:
- Bhavani Thuraisingham, Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor, UT Dallas CS Professor, and Executive Director of the UT Dallas Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI) (click here for her story)
- Lily Wu, UT Dallas CS Professor and Director of the Data Communication and Data Management (DCDM) Laboratory (click here for her story)
- I-Ling Yen, UT Dallas CS Professor (click here for her story)
- Ranran Feng, UT Dallas CS Professor (click here for her story)
- Sanda Harabagiu, UT Dallas CS Professor, Erik Jonsson School Research Initiation Chair, and Director of the UT Dallas Human Language Technology Research Institute (HLTRI) (click here for her story)
- Rym Zalila-Wenkstern, UT Dallas CS Professor and Director of the Multi-Agent and Visualization Systems lab (click here for her story)
- Inga H. Musselman, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for The University of Texas at Dallas (click here for her story)
- Jo Zhang of Fujitsu Laboratories of America (click here to read her story),
- Farokh Bastani, UT Dallas CS Professor, Excellence in Education Chair, and Director of the UT Dallas site of the NSF Net-centric and Cloud Software and Systems Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (NSF NCSS I/UCRC) (click here to read his story)
- Peggy Shadduck, Director of both the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) STEM Institute and the Dallas/North Texas STEM Degree Accelerator Program (click here to read her story)
- Lymari Ames of Cisco Systems (click here to read her story)
- Romelia Flores, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor (click here to read her story)
- Jill Blanchar, a Bank of America Information Security Executive (click here to read her story)
- Lisa Frey, State Farm Scrum Master (click here to read her story)
- Kimberly Snipes, USAA, VP, Chief Information Officer (click here to read her story)
- Catherine Walsh, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Loss Prevention for Johnson Controls’ Tyco Retail Solutions
- Nimmi Kannankutty, Deputy Division Director in the Division of Graduate Education (DGE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
- Karen Mazidi, UT Dallas CS Professor (click here to view her slides from her Grace Series Talk titled “Discovering Your Strengths”)
- Grace Kaldawi, Senior Software Engineer for Capital One Auto Finance, Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect, and UT Dallas CS Alumnus (click here to read more)
- Sydeaka Watson, Senior Data Scientist at Korelasi Data Insights, LLC, an independent analytics consulting company (click here to read more)
- Ewa Musial, Senior Software Engineer at Blackhawk Network (click here to read more or click here to view slides from her presentation)
- Janell Straach, Rice University CS Professor, former UT Dallas CS professor, and one of the Grace Series founders (click here to read more or click here to view slides from her presentation)
- Uni Yost, CEO/Founder of GoAskJay (click here to read more or click here to view slides from her presentation)
- Smita Bakshi, President and Co-Founder of zyBooks (click here to read more or click here to view slides from her presentation)
- Bhavani Thuraisingham, Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor, UT Dallas CS Professor, and Executive Director of the UT Dallas Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI) (click here to watch her talk)
- Betty Stewart, Provost, Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and tenured Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Texas at Dallas (click here to watch her talk)
- Neeti Khaitan Gupta, President, and CEO of Accelerate Consulting Inc. (click here to watch her talk)
- Juliet G. Odima, CSM, CSPO, Executive Director, STEAM Achievers Associate Vice President, and Director, School of Data Science and Analytics, Colaberry Inc. (click here to watch her talk)
- Seda Mauer, Digital Accessibility Consultant at Seda Maurer Consulting (click here to watch her talk)
- Shobana Radhakrishnan, Director of Engineering for Android TV at Google (click here to watch her talk)
- Stephanie Adams, UT Dallas Erik Jonsson School Dean and Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair at The University of Texas at Dallas (click here to watch her talk)
- Elisa Bertino, a Samuel D. Conte Professor of Computer Science Cyber2Slab at Purdue University (click here to watch her talk)
- Fanny Dunagan, CEO & LinkedIn Content Strategist at Pathlynks (click here to watch her talk)
- Tamara Bassam, Program Committee member for the DFW Alliance of Technology and Women (Click here to watch her talk)
- Daphne Yao, Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. ’56 Faculty Fellow and CACI Faculty Fellow (click here to watch her talk)
- Maral Mesmakhosroshahi, Deep Learning Researcher at Microsoft, and Founder and President of Iranian Women in Computing, a nonprofit organization supporting Iranian women in tech in the United States (click here to watch her talk)
- Bhavani Thuraisingham, Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor, UT Dallas CS Professor, and Executive Director of the UT Dallas Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI) (Click here to watch her talk)
- Dr. Ling Liu, Professor in the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology (click here to watch her talk)
- Saritha Reddy, Cybersecurity Leader and Director, Product Security at Capital One (click here to view her talk)
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 4,000 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,010 master’s students, 140 Ph.D. students, 52 tenure-track faculty members, and 42 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2022. With the University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.