Celebrating Pride 2013

Thousands of Googlers, Gayglers (LGBT Googlers), and their families and friends took to the streets last month to participate in Pride parades and celebrations around the globe. Pride had a special buzz this year, as DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down by the Supreme Court three days before the parades, marking an important step toward equal rights for all.

We supported our fellow Gayglers and others around the world with recording-breaking attendance at parades in San Francisco (well over 1300 Googlers and allies) and New York (500+ participants). In other parts of the world, we marched in celebrations in London, Budapest, Dublin, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo Rainbow Week 2013. We floated along the canals in Amsterdam Pride parade, marched in the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney and will gather in Hong Lim park for Singapore's 3rd annual Pink Dot celebration.


We had some big firsts this year all around the world as well:
  • Gayglers hosted a Pride@Google Speaker Series for the month of June, where speakers ranging from NFL stars to community leaders to Prop 8 Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier came to share their messages at Google.
  • LGBT celebrations were held for the first time in Hyderabad and Google was there! In India, our contingent of over 30 people made it to the cover of many local newspapers.
  • Though we have participated in Sao Paulo’s Pride parade in previous years, this year, Google was proud to be the first corporate sponsor thanks to the hard work of the Sao Paulo Gayglers. More than 100 Googlers marched—doubling participation from last year.
  • Google participated for the first time in celebrations in Mexico City, Paris and Hamburg.
  • We kicked off a collaboration with two founding partners called 'We Are Open' in Hungary that joins together companies, organizations and communities that are committed to openness. More than 100 organizations signed up to make a stand for diversity and we'll show our united front at Budapest Pride on Saturday, July 6.

Our LGBT efforts are not just once a year during Pride, either. Earlier this year, we worked with Creative Lab to create a grassroots employee video for TheFour.com, an organization supporting marriage equality in the four U.S. states where it was on the ballot this past year. Google also co-wrote an article to the United States Supreme Court explaining why Gay Marriage is Good for Business. We supported the citizens of France by hosting marriage ceremonies over Hangouts and we recently launched a YouTube Spotlight Channel and campaign, #ProudtoLove, dedicated to celebrating LGBT Pride.

We’re proud of all our Googlers and excited about what was accomplished this year! We’re glad to have ended Pride month on such an inspiring note of equality. For more photos, click here.


GoogleServe 2013: Giving back on a global scale

Every year in June comes a week where Googlers around the world stop reviewing code, ignore their inboxes and leave their cubicles behind to participate in GoogleServe, our global week of service.

This year, more than 8,500 Googlers from 75+ offices participated in 500 projects. Not only was this our largest GoogleServe to date, but it was also one of the more unique, as many projects were designed to expand the notion of what it means to give back to the community. Here’s a glimpse at some of what we were up to this year:

  • In Thimphu, Bhutan, Googlers led a workshop about media literacy at the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy helping youth prepare to participate in shaping the future of this young democracy.
  • Googlers in Mountain View, Calif., created a bone marrow donation drive and partnered with the Asian American Donor Program to raise awareness about the need for more donors from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Googlers from our Hyderabad, India office volunteered at Sri Vidhya's Centre for the Special Children, helping children who suffer from a wide range of cognitive disabilities to learn how to identify colors, write their own names, and prepare meals for themselves.
  • A team of Googlers walked the New York, N.Y., streets gathering information to improve AXS Map, a crowd-sourced platform for mapping wheelchair accessibility which is populated with data from Google Maps and Google Places APIs.
  • In Lagos, Nigeria, Googlers mentored entrepreneurs at Generation Enterprise, a small business incubator that equips at-risk youth to start sustainable businesses in slum communities.
  • In Randwick, Australia, Googlers taught computer and Internet skills with the Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program which aims to develop the capacities of young parents to live independently and to parent successfully.
  • A group of gourmet Googlers cooked a meal for families with children undergoing cancer treatment with Ronald McDonald House in London, U.K.
  • Googlers tutored and mentored youth in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with the Dignity For Children Foundation.
  • Googlers partnered with Un Techo Para Mi PaĆ­s to help build a new house for a family living below the poverty line in Bogota, Colombia.
  • In Dublin, Ireland, Google engineers taught youth how to program interactive stories and games with Scratch in partnership with Coder Dojo.


Click for more photos from this year's GoogleServe

Over the past six years, GoogleServe has transformed from a single week of service into a week of celebration and inspiration for ongoing giving. Googlers also give back year-round through our GooglersGive programs which include 20 hours of work time annually to volunteer with an approved charitable organization. If you’re inspired to join us, please check out All for Good or VolunteerMatch for opportunities to give back in your community.

Teaching awareness at Google: Breathe easy and come into focus

This is the fourth post in a series profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our g2g program, in which Googlers teach, share and learn from each other. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. - Ed.

Eight years ago, I loaded five boxes into my pickup truck, said goodbye to a career of crunching numbers in hotel management, and started my own massage practice in Washington state.

Soon thereafter, I started at Google as an onsite massage therapist at the Kirkland and Seattle offices, and I was ready for the challenge. But after a few years of massage work, I started to ponder alternatives to massage to further help my fellow Googlers relax and de-stress. Being able to take a moment out of one’s day to relax and decompress is not only beneficial for one’s health, but also may help people be happier and more productive in their day to day lives. So in 2011, I helped launch “MindBody Awareness,” a guided meditation class, as part of the Googler-to-Googler (g2g) program.

It’s no secret that meditation can be an excellent way to relax your body and focus the mind. A plethora of studies have supported that point. That said, one of the hardest parts of meditation is simply giving it a try. For an activity based in calmness and openness, it’s ironic how meditation can, for some, engender feelings of intimidation and even embarrassment at the outset. So we specifically designed “MindBody Awareness” for all levels so anyone can walk through the door and dive right in. Having a friendly, informal meditation class taught onsite by a fellow Googler allows for community building, and immediately relaxes participants whether they’re new to the practice or veterans.

Leading a MindBody Awareness class at our Kirkland, Wash. office

We begin each 30-minute class by going through a Qigong series that consists of 12 different positions held for 30 seconds each. This is how we begin bringing awareness of one’s body and mind into play, shedding the distractions from the outside and becoming more in tune with one’s self. The second portion of the class is a seated meditation, which incorporates changing hand positions, where chimes go off every minute to signal a change in pose. This integrates the mind and the body instead of just one or the other. The chimes help the mind stay focused, and acts as an anchor helping people return to a quiet mind if they happen to get lost in distraction. An engineer who takes my class told me “being aware of what my physical body needs while my brain is busy coding has helped me significantly reduce stress, not get so worn out, and enjoy my job.” Another Googler noted to me that he feels “having a regular chance to slow down, collect [himself] and connect mind and body contributes to a more mindful, lower stress outlook throughout the week.”

Taking a few minutes a day to sync your mind and body can help you relax and stay focused throughout the work day

Through g2g, we’ve made MindBody Awareness and other meditation classes available in 16 different cities, providing an alternative method of stress relief for Googlers around the world. To make it even easier for Googlers to access meditation classes, we offer global meditative Google Hangouts. Googlers can video conference into a meditation hangout for 30 or 60 minutes to practice meditation as a group.

Meditation class offered through the g2g program has also fostered a unique way to build a sense of community. The class has brought Googlers from varying departments together to meet new people by taking a break for 30 minutes to re-charge. The ultimate goal of the class is that Googlers get positive energy flowing that they can bring back to their desks—or anywhere for that matter!

Tips and tricks to help you de-stress
  1. Focus on your breath. Take a few moments to allow your mind and body to relax even if it's just for one or two long deep breaths—make sure you can physically see your belly and chest rise. Taking just one minute a day can make a significant difference.
  2. Think of your favorite things. Positive thoughts can give a way to a more positive attitude and outlook.
  3. Try to focus on one thing. See if you can sit back and tackle your tasks one piece at a time, as if you were working on a puzzle piece by piece. Eventually, it will come together in a systematic way!

Two Googlers elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

On Wednesday, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced its list of 2013 elected members. We’re proud to congratulate Peter Norvig, director of research, and Arun Majumdar, vice president for energy; two Googlers who are among the new members elected this year.

Membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is considered one of the nation’s highest honors, with those elected recognized as leaders in the arts, public affairs, business, and academic disciplines. With more than 250 Nobel Prize laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners among its fellows, the American Academy celebrates the exceptional contributions of the elected members to critical social and intellectual issues.

With their election, Peter and Arun join seven other Googlers as American Academy members: Eric Schmidt, Vint Cerf, Alfred Spector, Hal Varian, Ray Kurzweil and founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, all of whom embody our commitment to innovation and real-world impact. You can read more detailed summaries of Peter and Arun’s achievements below.

Dr. Peter Norvig, currently director of research at Google, is known most for his broad expertise in computer science and artificial intelligence, exemplified by his co-authorship (with Stuart Russell) of the leading college text, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. With more than 50 publications and a plethora of webpages, essays and software programs on a wide variety of CS topics, Peter is a catalyst of fundamental research across a wide range of disciplines while remaining a hands-on scientist who writes his own code. Recently, he has taught courses on artificial intelligence and the design of computer programs via massively open online courses (MOOC). Learn more about Peter and his research on norvig.com.

Dr. Arun Majumdar leads Google.org’s energy initiatives and advises Google on its broader energy strategy. Prior to joining Google last year, he was the founding director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), where he served from October 2009 until June 2012. Earlier, he was a professor of mechanical engineering as well as materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and headed the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has published several hundred papers, patents and conference proceedings. Find out more about Arun.

Become a public speaking pro: learning how to present the next great idea

This is the third post in a series profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our g2g program, in which Googlers teach, share and learn from each other. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. - Ed.

“[Public speaking] is quite simple, say what you have to say and
when you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending, sit down.” —Winston Churchill

If only public speaking were actually that easy. We’re often asked to present in front of a group, so good presentation skills are really important. Fear of public speaking is often ranked higher than fear of spiders, flying and heights. While spiders can make me jumpy, I not only enjoy public speaking, I also teach it.

In addition to my core role as Google Toronto’s agency team lead (helping to nurture relationships with some of the largest ad agencies in Canada), I help my colleagues amp up their public speaking skills as a g2g (Googler-to-Googler) facilitator for two classes, “Presenting with Confidence” and “Presenting with Charisma.” These two classes help my fellow Googlers erase anxiety and self-doubt and focus on the goal—communicating your message. I am actually a mechanical engineer by trade who, at one point, entered graduate school to study robotics. Not exactly the type that comes to mind when you think of great orators. But I’ve learned along the way, as an engineer turned “sales guy,” that a confident demeanor and a little charm can turn a snooze-fest into an engaging, lively meeting.

Here I am teaching one of our Presenting with Confidence classes in our New York City office. 
Photo by Jane Hu.

“Presenting with Confidence” goes beyond the “picture the audience in their underwear” adage. First, students are tasked with making brief presentations about themselves, whether it be about their most recent vacation or how they play in a jazz band. We videotape the students giving their presentations on their phones to review later as a part of the exercise and to keep for their own reference. This, as it turns out, is one of the most effective, eye-opening exercises in the class. Before we roll the tape, the participant comments on an area he/she believes will be pointed out by others, such as, “I always fidget with my hands” or, “I blush as red as a tomato.” The reality is often completely different, and provides an immediate boost of confidence, allowing the student to focus on the content of their presentation. Part of the confidence boost also stems from being surrounded by peers who are in the same boat, so there’s no judgment.

Sharing honest feedback with your peers is an important part of the learning process. 
Photo by Jane Hu.

“Presenting with Charisma” focuses on adding charm and magnetism to your speech. The more the audience wants to hear from a speaker, the more information they’ll absorb. In this class, Googlers nail down the right mix of tone, body language and delivery to better captivate their audience. We role play to learn how to conquer inevitable yet potentially disastrous moments, like when your technology demo crashes.

I experienced one such moment myself when I covered a presentation for a fellow Googler at the last minute. When I started getting asked questions that were beyond my ability to handle, I followed the advice I give my own students, which is to remain calm, upbeat and easy-going—no matter what. I decided to play off the audience’s own knowledge so that the Q&A became more of a dialogue rather than the spotlight shining solely on me.

Solid communication skills anchor any job function. Whether you are an engineer presenting new findings to your manager or a salesperson pitching a new business strategy to a client, a few tips and a lot of practice can make a significant impact on your presentations. If you’re one of the many, many professionals who feels uneasy about getting up in front of a room full of people, try the following tried-and-true techniques to start mastering the art of public speaking.

Tips and tricks to boost your public speaking confidence and charisma:

1) Pace yourself. To slow down and build momentum, try reciting a sentence then walking to the other side of the room. Pause, then walk back to the other side and deliver your next sentence.

2) Unfreeze. What to do if you totally freeze during your presentation? Look at your slide or notes and just describe what you see on the slide or page in front of you. The words will start flowing and come back to you.

3) Fidget and fiddle no more. Displacement tactic: if you find yourself always fiddling with your hands or keeping your hands in your pockets, try standing behind a chair or a podium and planting your hands on the podium so you appear confident. (Even political leaders use this trick.)

4) Get physical. Use the room to your advantage and keep your audience alert. Walk across the room or even among the audience to get people involved in your presentation.

5) Stop saying “Um.” To rid yourself of “umm”-ing your way through a presentation, use this physical displacement tactic: Every time you are transitioning from one point to another, do something small but physical, like moving your pen. Making a conscious effort to move the pen will turn your brain off from using a verbal filler instead.

Voices of women in technology

A diverse workforce is critical in helping us build products that can help people change the world. That includes diversity of all life experiences, including gender.

Women were some of the first programmers and continue to make a major impact on the programming world today. We think it’s important to highlight the great work women are doing in computer science, to help provide role models for young women thinking about careers in computing.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and as one of our contributions to the celebration, we’re proud to support Voices Global Conference, presented by Global Tech Women. As part of this 24-hour live streamed event, Google will provide more than a dozen hours of free talks featuring women working in computer science, beginning today. To access the full schedule and our ongoing broadcasts, see our section on the Voices website, which will be updated throughout the day.

The Voices Global Conference is the brainchild of Global Tech Women’s founder Deanna Kosaraju, who also started India’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2010 with grant support from Google. The India conferences, which provide a forum for women to share their professional and research work in computing, have grown rapidly, with more than 800 attendees in 2012. So when Deanna proposed this global, 24-hour streamed conference, we knew it was a great opportunity to help women and other audiences around the world learn more and get inspired about the contributions women are making to technology and computer science.

Our sessions will feature a range of material, from new episodes of the Women Techmakers series and interviews with women leaders like the head of Lexity India Mani Abrol, to discussions focusing on technologies like Google Compute Engine. For a sneak peek of the type of content we’ll be providing, check out Pavni’s story below, produced in conjunction with PBS’ MAKERS series. I’ve provided advice to many young people in India interested in studying computer science and pursuing their own dreams—so Pavni’s tenacity, coupled with the encouragement and support she received from her father, resonated with me. We’re excited to share her story and others like it alongside technical conversations and discussions on women in technology as part of this conference.



I hope you’ll join us for our sessions—and in the meantime, you can learn more about our efforts to support women at Google and beyond.

Finding the inner programmer in every Googler

This is the second post in a series profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our g2g program, in which Googlers teach, share and learn from each other. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. - Ed.

If someone had told me when I graduated with a degree in economics that I’d one day be employed in a technical role at Google, I would have laughed. In 2008, I joined Google’s people operations rotation program, in which one experiences three different people ops areas—from benefits to staffing—over the course of two years. After just a few short months, I found myself with a passion for technology and a profound interest in programming that would draw me into teaching a class, Intro to Programming (I2P), to non-engineers at Google as a part of the g2g (Googlers-to-Googlers) program.

Teaching programming to an I2P class at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters

While on the benefits team, I was assigned a project that involved matching up hundreds of Googlers’ names with their corresponding office locations and job titles. I quickly realized that a few simple programming scripts could probably speed up my work and reduce errors. The only problem was, I had no clue how to write a program.

I began to teach myself the programming language Python, which is known for its clarity of syntax and friendliness to beginners. Slowly, I produced a multi-functional automated spreadsheet, and then a web application to share with my team. My teammates, seeing that my newfound technical skills had saved all of us time, asked me to teach them how to code; thus, in front of a whiteboard in a small conference room, I2P was born.

Since then, more than 200 Googlers have taken I2P. We encourage an open, supportive environment in the class, making it an approachable way for Googlers to broaden their horizons within the workplace and gain new skills. Some of my former students have even moved from roles in global business, finance and people operations to full-time engineering positions. That’s awesome to see, but I love that Googlers can use what they learn in I2P to make processes across the company more efficient—no matter what team they work on. For example, an administrative assistant who took the class streamlined a manual daily task by automating an email response survey for her team.

In addition to solving business challenges, I’ve also seen Googlers using the programming skills they learned in I2P to help others—both inside and outside of Google. Recently, an I2P alum increased participation in Google’s free flu shot program by writing a Python-based enrollment tool that allows Googlers to find appointments online by preferred office location and time. Thousands more Googlers signed up to receive flu shots due to the convenience provided by the tool. Because Google donates an equal number of vaccinations, such as those preventing meningitis or pneumonia, to children in the developing world, this new tool also led to thousands more children receiving crucial vaccinations.

More than 200 Googlers have participated in the 11-week course (the sword definitely helps keep engagement high...don’t worry, it’s foam!)

What’s extraordinary to me is that under the g2g program, the “guy down the hall in HR” can teach programming—of all things—to his fellow Googlers. It’s been extremely rewarding to experience first-hand the results of my students’ learnings. Googlers have taken the principles and skills from I2P and put them to work in time management, email communication and even just having fun re-creating Frogger—leave it to Googlers to span the gamut of I2P skill application. I often think how awesome it would be if every Googler could take I2P and apply what they’ve learned to make processes across the company more efficient.

If you’re interested in learning how to code, here are three tips from the course that you can practice on your own. While I’ve learned these principles via programming, they can be helpful in all kinds of fields!

  • Practice and theory. You learn best when you have something to apply your learning to. With programming, find a project you want to apply your skills to and build the knowledge necessary to accomplish your project.
  • Bad habits die hard. If you are writing messy or convoluted code, you are building habits that will be very hard to break. Better to overcome the pain of doing it the right way initially so that you never have to go back and change.
  • Get feedback. Just because a script "works" doesn't mean it works well. Always get advice from others with more experience so that you are learning how to do things better, not just sufficiently well.

Unleashing creativity in Google’s CSI:Lab

This is the first in a series of posts profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our “Googlers-to-Googlers” program (known internally as “g2g”). The g2g community consists of a group of Googlers who are passionate about teaching, sharing and learning from one another. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. Our philosophy is: the best teacher you've ever had could be the one in the cube next to you. - Ed

For most people, the term “CSI” evokes images of crime scene investigators solving murder mysteries, like on the popular TV series. But I hadn’t heard of the TV show when I created the CSI:Lab at Google. This program on Creative Skills for Innovation is taught through our “Googlers-to-Googlers” (g2g) program—where Googlers teach other Googlers about topics that interest them. We don’t lift fingerprints or take down criminals, but like the show, CSI:Lab is all about reaching an end goal through brainstorming, getting your hands dirty and an “ensemble” performance.

Here I am welcoming a CSI:Lab

Over the course of my travels a few years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a variety of diverse places and cultures, from Shanghai to Capetown. Experiencing dissimilar cultures allowed me to see how people from different walks of life innovate to survive and thrive, and deepened my interest in the topic of innovation. One of the reasons I was drawn to Google was its unique innovation culture. Soon after arriving here in February 2010, I began to delineate what was tangible about that aspect of the Google culture and was determined to figure out how I could immerse both myself and others in it more. This led me to think about how I could use the knowledge I gathered on innovation from my travels to teach those with different occupations and mindsets—from a salesperson to a project manager to an engineer—to think more about how to be innovative and to ignite change in a company.

In my 20 percent time, I decided to develop a class with a “lab” component to show Googlers how to “experience innovation.” I wanted to get a diverse group of people together in one room to solve challenging problems by learning from each other’s experiences, and by developing their own inner strengths. The goal was to enable Googlers to experience an approach to innovation where one learns by doing, rather than by listening.

CSI:Lab is user-centered and prototype driven. In each class, small groups are formed to answer a broad challenge that entices folks to think big—such as, “How would you change the commuting to work experience?” Participants are asked to interview potential “users” of their solutions to generate insights. After the surveys, all the ideas are posted on a white board. For example, in this case individual hi-tech jet packs or “Marty McFly” skateboards might reduce commute time and aid the environment. Ultimately, one idea is chosen and the group then develops a physical prototype (think Play-Doh and pipe cleaners) of their solution, to learn and prove how and why it is the best. Each class is intentionally made up of groups of Googlers from varying parts of the company—for example, engineering, global business, or project management—to encourage the groups to collaborate and learn from each other’s experience.

CSI:Lab brainstorm session. The prompt: Re-imagine advertising.

Googlers developing their solution’s prototype to the challenge: 
What is the learning space of the future?

Since April 2010, I’ve been humbled to run the Lab in 37 Google offices worldwide, and about 9,000 Googlers have participated. Today, we have more than 50 Googlers who act as ambassadors for the Lab, designing and facilitating more Labs as part of the g2g program. From New York to Tokyo to Sao Paulo, the different people and cultures of each lab offer a new perspective. And CSI:Lab inspires Googlers long after the sessions are over. One Googler told me that after the Lab, he used his experience to develop a prototype for a solution to one of his team’s issues. He described how good it felt to take a risk to reach a solution, and ultimately he convinced a team of other Googlers to work with him to refine and implement his idea. Ultimately, seeing these ideas absorbed by participants and put to use within the company is what CSI:Lab is all about.

Take a peek at five tips to help you embrace the CSI:Lab spirit and add more creativity and innovation to your everyday life—whether it be at home or at the office!
  1. Know and own what inspires you. Understand where your inspiration comes from and do it 10x more than you do now. For example, if your inspiration comes from museums, then go to museums 10x more often; if your inspiration comes from people, talk to 10 new people each week.
  2. Think like a child. Be open and question everything around you. Try not to pre-judge thoughts or ideas; develop them.
  3. Dive into something new. Involve yourself in areas at work where you’re unfamiliar with the content and want to learn more. People are generally happy to share their knowledge and you can often teach them something too just by bringing a fresh perspective to their work.
  4. Play with fun and unusual materials when developing an idea. We all constantly use our computers and paper and pen, so think outside the box to get your mind flowing. Want to “prototype” a solution you’ve thought of? Grab some pipe cleaners, construction paper, LEGO figures, feathers...you name it! See how the materials inspire you.
  5. Invest in your physical space. Having a supportive environment can make a big difference, so learn how what types of space inspire creativity. To create a more open, playful environment, try a flexible workplace with no offices. Or, help ideas flow more freely by making lots of whiteboard space easily accessible. For example, at Google’s Mountain View campus, we’ve created our own innovation space, called “The Garage” (a nod to the iconic Silicon Valley workspace). “The Garage” is big enough for 170 Googlers to use the area to create, collaborate and experiment.
A snapshot of the Garage

Honoring the spirit of Veterans Day year-round

This Veterans Day was an especially poignant one for us at Google. November 9 marked the fifth anniversary of the Google Veterans Network, our employee volunteer community that strives to make Google a great place to work for those who have served, their families and their friends. Our group has doubled in size every year, and we represent 34 offices in nine countries around the world.

Veterans Day 2012 doodle

This year, we’re honoring the spirit of Veterans Day with a week of activities from November 7-14. Googlers deployed with Team Rubicon to Rockaway Beach, N.Y. to help residents recover from Hurricane Sandy, cooked dinner for military families at VA Puget Sound Fisher House, hosted a Meals Ready-to-Eat luncheon in Atlanta, Ga., and ran a U.S. Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test in Mountain View, Calif.—just a few of the events underway around the United States.

Our commitment to supporting the military veteran community at large continues to strengthen, with a focus on helping veterans make a successful transition to civilian life. Here are some examples of how Google tools and employees have joined the fight against veteran unemployment, in particular:

We’ve also put our technology to work as sponsors of Veterans Week NYC, including:
  • Google technology training for more than 100 wounded warriors and caregivers in NYC and a panel discussion, also broadcast on Google+, with advice for wounded warriors on transitioning to the civilian workplace.
  • A live broadcast of the Bob Woodruff Foundation's annual Stand Up For Heroes concert on YouTube and Google+ to raise awareness and funds for wounded warriors.
  • Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 14, a broadcast of the Big Apple Circus for military families around the country, hosted by the USO. You can join in the fun on Google+ where we’ll stream the performance live. 

Honoring wounded warriors with The Boss at Stand Up For Heroes on November 8. 
Photo by Stefan Radtke.

Please follow our new Google for Veterans & Families Google+ page to stay abreast of our support for the community all year long. Every day is Veterans Day here at Google.

Update Dec 7: You can now watch video from the November 14 Big Apple Circus on YouTube.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month and the start of our third year celebrating the Hispanic community through events and community outreach initiatives. Googlers from our Corporate Social Responsibility Team, Diversity & Inclusion Team, Engineering Industry Team, the Hispanic Googler Network (HGN), and our Community Partners worked together to host 20+ events focused on this year’s theme of Latinos in Technology.

We kicked things off at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) National Conference, where two members from our Google Accelerate team worked one-on-one with business owners during matchmaking sessions to consult on the best use of Google tools for their enterprises. Googler Eliana Murillo spoke on a panel titled “Beyond Social Media: The Potential of Technology & the Internet in a Global Economy,” where she shared how tools like Google Analytics, YouTube and Google for Nonprofits can be useful for businesses.

In early October, we ran a Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Hangout on Air on the Life at Google page with the Latino Community Foundation (LCF). Raquel Donoso (CEO of LCF) and Googlers Hector Mujica (HGN member) and myself shared the history of the partnership and what our respective goals are. They also talked about the Family Health Day at Google & Olympic Games event, which we held at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters that same week. Health is a pressing issue (PDF) in the Hispanic community; at this event, part of the Binational Health Week, we encouraged guests to have healthier lifestyles by teaching them some easy exercises, how to be active and eat healthy. More than 380+ community members and 50+ Googlers attended.

Last week we wrapped up a series of networking events in partnership with the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE), where more than 400+ technical professionals came to our Seattle, Cambridge, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, New York, and Mountain View Offices to network and learn about how Google is supporting the local hispanic technical community.



Finally, today the Hispanic Googler Network is hosting the Bay Area Latino Employee Resource Group (ERG) Networking Reception in Mountain View. The Honorable Aida Alvarez, Chair of the Latino Community Foundation of the Bay Area, will speak to 300+ guests from local Hispanic ERGs in the Bay Area about what LCF is doing to build a better future for Latino children, youth and families in the Hispanic community.

Though the month officially comes to an end today, we’ll continue to support the Hispanic community as a lead sponsor in the LATISM '12 conference, taking place in two weeks. LATISM ‘12 connects Latinos in social media, technology, education, business and health fields to increase their online footprint through the web and Google's tools for small businesses and communities. We’re also participating in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference and will soon open up applications for our Hispanic College Fund Google scholarship.

We’ve had a great time celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and are already looking forward to next year’s events. We invite you to view the recaps, photos and hangouts on our Life at Google page on Google+ and to visit our Diversity & Inclusion site where you can see more of what we do.

GoogleServe 2012: More skills-based service

This year we celebrated our fifth GoogleServe Global Week of Service—an annual tradition in which Googlers around the world join together in community service projects. Volunteering together helps to revitalize and strengthen our connections with the cities and towns in which we live and work, and also brings us closer together as a global team.

In the past we’ve done hundreds of projects that address local community needs and engage our hearts and hands. This year, inspired by Billion+ Change and Reimagining Service as well as industry research, we focused on incorporating more skills-based projects. Our goal is to use our professional skills to generate more value for the communities we serve and to give Googlers an opportunity to have an even more impactful and fulfilling volunteer experience.

With that in mind, our software engineers developed code to help make math formulas accessible to blind students with Social Coding 4 Good; with the Student Veterans of America recruiters led resume and interviewing skills workshops with veterans; and with the Branson Centre in South Africa sales and business development professionals trained entrepreneurs in online tools to grow and optimize their small businesses.

Overall, more than 5,000 Googlers helped serve their communities across 400+ different projects as part of GoogleServe this year. Here’s a sampling of some of the other projects we participated in:
See our Life at Google page for photos of some of our employees and partners in action. While we do set aside a week to focus on serving the communities in which we work and live, giving back is an ongoing effort here at Google. If you'd like to join us in using your skills for social good, check out All for Good, for opportunities to give back in your community year-round.


Celebrating Pride 2012

We encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. And this month Googlers, Gayglers (gay Googlers), and their families and friends took this spirit to the streets in Pride parades and celebrations around the globe. In Sao Paulo, a group of 50 marched as a Google contingent for the first time ever. In San Francisco, more than 1,000 Googlers and allies marched (nearly doubling the number of people we had in 2011!). In New York, more than 700 of our friends and colleagues took over 5th Avenue marching alongside our double-decker Pride bus. And this weekend in Singapore, we’re sponsoring the Pink Dot celebration for the second consecutive year.

It’s not just through Pride that we show our support for the LGBT community. At Mardi Gras in Sydney, we hosted two Queer Thinking seminars on Activism in the Internet Age and Queer Careers. We also have big plans for the World Pride celebration in London this year, launching a “Legalise Love” Conference at Google London, partnering with organizations to identify ways to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.

In addition to supporting the LGBT community outside of Google, we made some changes to our benefits offerings to support our Gayglers. Earlier this year, we enhanced our transgender-inclusive benefits to cover transitioning procedures and treatment in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, which includes coverage for procedures like facial feminization for transgender women and pectoral implants for transgender men. We also increased our lifetime maximum coverage for these benefits to $75K—more than double what it had been previously.

Next month we’ll carry the energy of Pride into our fourth annual company Diversity & Inclusion celebration, the Sum of Google. The Sum is an opportunity to celebrate and engage in a discussion about diversity and inclusion across our offices around the world.

Take a look at the photos below for a peek at this year's Pride celebrations.


A tribute to Turing, the father of modern computing

“The past is a foreign country—they do things differently there.” It’s a saying that rings especially true in the world of technology. But while innovating requires us to focus on the future, there are times when it’s important to look back. Today—the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth—is one such moment.

Statue of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park

Turing’s life was one of astounding highs and devastating lows. While his wartime codebreaking saved thousands of lives, his own life was destroyed when he was convicted for homosexuality. But the tragedy of his story should not overshadow his legacy. Turing’s insight laid the foundations of the computer age. It’s no exaggeration to say he’s a founding father of every computer and Internet company today.

Turing’s breakthrough came in 1936 with the publication of his seminal paper “On Computable Numbers” (PDF).  This introduced two key concepts, “algorithms” and “computing machines”—commonplace terms today, but truly revolutionary in the 1930’s:
  • Algorithms are, in simplest terms, step-by-step instructions for carrying out a mathematical calculation. This is where it all started for programming since, at its core, all software is a collection of algorithms.
  • A computing machine—today better known as a Turing machine—was the hypothetical device that Turing dreamed up to run his algorithms. In the 1930’s, a “computer” was what you called a person who did calculations—it was a profession, not an object. Turing’s paper provided the blueprint for building a machine that could do any computation that a person could, marking the first step towards the modern notion of a computer.
Considering the role computers now play in everyday life, it’s clear Turing’s inventions rank among the most important intellectual breakthroughs of the 20th century. In the evolution of computing, all paths trace back to Turing. That’s why Turing is a hero to so many Google engineers, and why we’re so proud to help commemorate and preserve his legacy.

In 2010, Google helped Bletchley Park raise funds to purchase Turing’s papers so they could be preserved for public display in their museum. More recently, we’ve been working closely with curators at London’s Science Museum to help put on a stunning new exhibition “Codebreaker - Alan Turing’s Life and Legacy.” This tells the story of Turing’s vast achievements in a profoundly moving and personal way, through an amazing collection of artifacts—including items loaned by GCHQ, the U.K. government intelligence agency, never before on public display. Topics addressed include Turing’s early years, his code-breaking at Bletchley Park, his designs for the Pilot Ace computer, his later morphogenesis work, as well as his sexuality and death. The exhibition opened on June 21 and is well worth a visit if you’re passing through London in the next year.


And finally, we couldn’t let such a momentous occasion pass without a doodle. We thought the most fitting way of paying tribute to Turing’s incredible life and work would be to simulate the theoretical “Turing machine” he proposed in a mathematical paper. Visit the homepage today— we invite you to try your hand at programming it. If you get it the first time, try again... it gets harder!

Turing was born into a world that was very different, culturally and technologically, from ours—but his contribution has never been more significant. I hope you’ll join me today in paying tribute to Alan Turing, the forefather of modern computing.

Fueling great nonprofits with technology

Technology can make collaboration easier, cut costs and help operations run more efficiently. Unfortunately, the organizations trying to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems—nonprofits—often lack resources to fully take advantage of technology to further their causes.

That’s why we worked with the HandsOn Network, a Points of Light Enterprise, to create HandsOn Tech, an initiative that pairs U.S. nonprofits with individuals who are passionate about technology and looking to make a difference. Last year, we funded 24 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions. These VISTA members provided technology training to more than 1,300 small, poverty-focused nonprofits nationwide. Further, these VISTA participants engaged skilled volunteers, including lots of Googlers, to assist nearly 200 nonprofits in creating individualized, comprehensive tech plans that will help them to work more efficiently.

Each HandsOn Tech VISTA project varies based on different nonprofit needs. In the past year, projects have included:

  • Migrating Dreams for Kids, a Chicago nonprofit empowering at-risk and disabled youth, to Google Apps—enabling them to more efficiently and effectively collaborate without the restriction of limited office space.
  • Building a dynamic website and social media strategy for Doing Art Together, a NYC-based nonprofit providing hands-on programming and GED prep for under-resourced youth.
  • Using Google Maps and Fusion Tables to help Atlanta’s The Drake House create a map that helps staff better visualize the local homeless population in order to more effectively distribute their services.

HandsOn Tech Pittsburgh hosted a panel on social media tools, including Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, with local nonprofits at the Google Pittsburgh office

The program has been so successful that we’re expanding—it will now include one additional city and 28 new VISTA positions, with the goal of reaching even more nonprofits. The new HandsOnTech VISTAs will start in August with a one week training at our campus in Mountain View, Calif., where they’ll learn about cloud-based tools from a variety of technology companies including the Google For Nonprofits suite that allows many nonprofits to use free online advertising, Google Apps and YouTube channels. Once they are armed with tech know-how they’ll spend the rest of the year in two and three-person teams serving nonprofits in the Bay Area, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

HandsOn Tech is accepting applications for VISTA members now through June 27. If you’re passionate about technology and helping nonprofits on the front line of fighting poverty, then we hope you’ll apply!

A look inside our 2011 diversity report

We work hard to ensure that our commitment to diversity is built into everything we do—from hiring our employees and building our company culture to running our business and developing our products, tools and services. To recap our diversity efforts in 2011, a year in which we partnered with and donated $19 million to more than 150 organizations working on advancing diversity, we created the 2011 Global Diversity & Talent Inclusion Report. Below are some highlights.

In the U.S., fewer and fewer students are graduating with computer science degrees each year, and enrollment rates are even lower for women and underrepresented groups. It’s important to grow a diverse talent pool and help develop the technologists of tomorrow who will be integral to the success of the technology industry. Here are a few of the things we did last year aimed at this goal in the U.S. and around the world:
We not only promoted diversity and inclusion outside of Google, but within Google as well.
  • We had more than 10,000 members participate in one of our 18 Global Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Membership and reach expanded as Women@Google held the first ever Women’s Summit in both Mountain View, Calif. and Japan; the Black Googler Network (BGN) made their fourth visit to New Orleans, La., contributing 360 volunteer hours in just two days; and the Google Veterans Network partnered with GoogleServe, resulting in 250 Googlers working on nine Veteran-related projects from San Francisco to London.
  • Googlers in more than 50 offices participated in the Sum of Google, a celebration about diversity and inclusion, in their respective offices around the globe.
  • We sponsored 464 events in 70 countries to celebrate the anniversary of International Women's Day. Google.org collaborated with Women for Women International to launch the “Join me on the Bridge” campaign. Represented in 20 languages, the campaign invited people to celebrate by joining each other on bridges around the world—either physically or virtually—to show their support.
Since our early days, it’s been important to make our tools and services accessible and useful to a global array of businesses and user communities. Last year:
  • We introduced ChromeVox, a screen reader for Google Chrome, which helps people with vision impairment navigate websites. It's easy to learn and free to install as a Chrome Extension.
  • We grew Accelerate with Google to make Google’s tools, information and services more accessible and useful to underrepresented communities and diverse business partners.
  • On Veterans Day in the U.S., we launched a new platform for military veterans and their families. The Google for Veterans and Families website helps veterans and their families stay connected through products like Google+, YouTube and Google Earth.
We invite you to take a look back with us at our 2011 diversity and inclusion highlights. We’re proud of the work we’ve done so far, but also recognize that there’s much more to do to. These advances may not happen at Internet speed, but through our collective commitment and involvement, we can be a catalyst for change.

Celebrating our super-mom users

These days, moms use technology in a ton of creative and resourceful ways to keep their families running smoothly. As a working mom myself, I use Google Calendar to keep track of our three busy kids and all their different activities, sports and schools. Technology also keeps us connected—I’m always amazed at how a Google+ Hangout between my kids in California and their grandparents in France can make the distance between them feel so small.

In celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend, we thought we’d applaud the many tech-savvy super-moms out there by sharing a few of their stories.

Heather Fay, using Google+ to make her dream a reality
Heather, from New Haven, Conn., is a stay-at-home mom of two who has always had a passion for music and performing. Until recently, her music career took a backseat to her responsibilities at home, but when she signed up for Google+ in 2011, she realized she could find an audience using Hangouts—without stepping foot outside of her home. Now Heather can sing and play her guitar for people, no matter where they live in the world. Between changing diapers and cleaning up spilled cereal, she’s on Google+ engaging with more than 13,000 fans, collaborating with other musicians on an epic live concert and sharing the occasional mommy woes. You can find out more about her music on Google Play, where you can also hear a tribute to her daughter called “Ruby’s Song.”


Sarah Stocker, bringing robots to life with Chrome
Sarah, from San Francisco, is the co-founder of My Robot Nation, a Chrome web app that lets you create a unique robot online, then have it printed in full-color 3D and mailed to your door. When developing My Robot Nation, Sarah employed some of the most advanced web technologies, such as WebGL, to bring the 3D experience to the browser; however, making the app easy for people to use was paramount. Enter Sarah’s 10-year-old son Max. He designed the first robot and was My Robot Nation’s first “customer.” The fact that Max could create something online and then hold it in his hands made Sarah feel like the coolest mom ever—and he’s already told her that he wants to be an inventor, just like her.


Carol Galland Wildey and Danielle Yates, founders of Headcovers Unlimited
Almost 25 years ago, at the age of 40, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer. After losing her hair due to chemotherapy treatments, she and her daughter Danielle realized how few options there were to help cancer patients look and feel like themselves throughout their treatment. In 1994, she and Danielle started Headcovers Unlimited, selling hats, wigs and scarves for patients with hair loss. Danielle helped take the business online in 1995, launching www.headcovers.com. Based in League City, Tex., the Internet helps them reach women in more than 60 countries; and more than half their customers have come through online advertising with AdWords.


Betty Givan, preserving family recipes with YouTube
For years, Betty has been cataloguing and saving family recipes to pass along to her own daughter. At first, she used a scrapbook of recipe cards, but one day, while making nachos for a football game, she decided to make a video of the process and asked her daughter to film it. Soon, she was filming and posting her favorites on a YouTube channel and today, it’s become her full-time business from her Richmond, Ky. home. With more than 1,100 videos of her southern cooking recipes and 16 million video views, Betty has become a mom to people all around the world.



Karen Castelletti, Googler reunited with her birth mother using Google Search
Not only can search help you find what you’re looking for, it can also help you reconnect with the people you care about. Karen grew up knowing she was adopted, and always thought it would be too difficult to find and connect with her birth parents. Then, when she was 22, she received a message from her birth mom, Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen found Karen's name through public birth records, and used Google Search to find one of Karen's social networking profiles. They reconnected in time for Mary Ellen to watch Karen graduate from college alongside her adoptive parents, and today they speak regularly.

I hope the stories of these super-moms have inspired you to use technology in ways that keep you connected, organized and creative, so you can spend more time doing the things that matter—having fun with your kids!

One desk chair—hold the formaldehyde

Formaldehyde. Lead. Pesticides. Mercury. If building materials had nutrition labels, would you buy a product containing these toxic ingredients? There are more than 80,000 chemicals in the world, and we don’t fully know how they impact our health. And a surprising number of hazardous chemicals still make their way into everyday products we use, including furniture, paints, carpets and flooring. Whether it’s in the home or office, we shouldn’t have to worry that the chair we’re sitting in or the air we breathe contains harmful chemicals (PDF).

On my first day on the job at Google over six years ago, a co-worker asked me to sniff a carpet sample. I didn’t smell anything and was told, “That’s good!” We want to build a greener future and create the healthiest work environments imaginable for Googlers, which means we only use paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets, furniture and building materials with the lowest levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) possible.

A straw-hut style huddle room made with sustainably forested wood from Pescadero Willow Farm, bound by a saline-based, toxin-free solution

Unfortunately, the lack of clear and widely-available product ingredient information makes progress in this area challenging, so we’re asking the market to provide toxin-free products and make its contents an open book. We put all our products through a rigorous screening process to make sure they meet our healthy materials standards, and request full transparency from our vendors by asking them to share comprehensive product ingredient information.

This movement is also gaining momentum outside of Google. Recently, 30 leading building product manufacturers signed on to pilot the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard, the industry’s first common reporting standard for transparency around health impacts of building materials. Google is a founding endorser of the HPD, and we applaud these manufacturers for taking this important step. Continued leadership like this is needed for the product transparency revolution to gain real traction—not just for building materials but all types of products we consume or use.

So whether you’re at the restaurant or hardware store, ask tough questions so you can make better-informed choices about products to help keep yourself and your families healthy. Your collective voice and purchasing power can make a huge difference.

As for Google, by setting high standards, asking difficult questions and encouraging transparency from our partners, we hope to show how other organizations can create their own healthy and sustainable work environments.

Remembering Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer

It’s no secret we have a special fondness for Bletchley Park. The pioneering work carried out there didn’t just crack codes—it laid the foundations for the computer age.

Today, we’d like to pay homage to a lesser-known contributor—Tommy Flowers. Bletchley Park’s breakthroughs were the product of theoretical mathematical brilliance combined with dazzling feats of engineering—none more so than Flowers’ creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable, electronic computer.

Photo of Dr. Thomas “Tommy” Flowers. Reproduced with kind permission of the Flowers family

By 1942 the hardest task facing Bletchley Park’s wartime codebreakers was deciphering messages encrypted by Lorenz, used by Germany for their most top-secret communications. Initially Lorenz messages were broken by hand, using ingenious but time-consuming techniques. To speed things up, it was decided to build a machine to automate parts of the decoding process. This part-mechanical, part-electronic device was called Heath Robinson, but although it helped, it was unreliable and still too slow.

Tommy Flowers was an expert in the use of relays and thermionic valves for switching, thanks to his research developing telephone systems. Initially, he was summoned to Bletchley Park to help improve Heath Robinson, but his concerns with its design were so great he came up with an entirely new solution—an electronic machine, later christened Colossus.

When Flowers proposed the idea for Colossus in February 1943, Bletchley Park management feared that, with around 1,600 thermionic valves, it would be unreliable. Drawing on his pre-war research, Flowers was eventually able to persuade them otherwise, with proof that valves were reliable provided the machine they were used in was never turned off. Despite this, however, Bletchley Park’s experts were still skeptical that a new machine could be ready quickly enough and declined to pursue it further.

Fortunately Flowers was undeterred, and convinced the U.K.’s Post Office research centre at Dollis Hill in London to approve the project instead. Working around the clock, and partially funding it out of his own pocket, Flowers and his team completed a prototype Colossus in just 10 months.

Photo of the rebuilt Colossus which you can visit at The National Museum of Computing in the U.K. 
 Reproduced with kind permission of The National Museum of Computing.

The first Colossus came into operation at Bletchley Park in January 1944. It exceeded all expectations and was able to derive many of the Lorenz settings for each message within a few hours, compared to weeks previously. This was followed in June 1944 by a 2,400-valve Mark 2 version which was even more powerful, and which provided vital information to aid the D-Day landings. By the end of the war there were 10 Colossus computers at Bletchley Park working 24/7.

Once war was over, all mention of Colossus was forbidden by the Official Secrets Act. Eight of the machines were dismantled, while the remaining two were sent to London where they purportedly were used for intelligence purposes until 1960. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Colossus could begin to claim its rightful crown at the forefront of computing history.

Tommy Flowers passed away in 1998, but we were privileged recently to catch up with some on his team who helped build and maintain Colossus.



This week heralds the opening of a new gallery dedicated to Colossus at the U.K.’s National Museum of Computing, based at Bletchley Park. The rebuilt Colossus is on show, and over the coming weeks it will be joined by interactive exhibits and displays. Bletchley Park is less than an hour from Central London, and makes a fitting pilgrimage for anyone interested in computing.



(Cross-posted on the European Public Policy Blog)

Celebrating our history, accomplishments and community during Black History Month

If you walk down the halls of our New York office, you might learn something about the history of technology. This month, our walls showcase the contributions of Black inventors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in celebration of Black History Month.

Black History Month, which is every February in the U.S., provides us with an opportunity to recognize the history and diversity of the communities where we operate. Yesterday, our midwestern Googlers listened to the music of Michigan’s only Black and Latino Orchestra and next week, Dr. Clarence Jones will be speaking to our Bay-area Googlers about writing Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This is just a small sampling of the dozens of celebrations Googlers are hosting all month long.


Black History Month also gives us a chance to celebrate the diversity of our Googlers and highlight some ways we work with underrepresented groups. One of my favorite examples is the story of the Black Googlers Network (BGN). In June 2006, a group of Googlers looking to connect and foster community among Black colleagues got together to create an internal networking group. The Black Googlers Network started as a mailing list, but quickly grew into much more. Passionate about growing the next generation of Black leaders in the technology industry, BGN partnered with our university programs team to strengthen our relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a result, we’ve not only increased our recruiting presence at these schools, but are now also partnering with HBCU faculty to develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, encouraging more students to pursue degrees in these areas and prepare them for careers in technology.

Members of our BGN are also shaping the way we do business. In May of 2009, two recent grads in our Ann Arbor office saw an opportunity, and what started as an idea bounced around between two twenty-somethings turned into an official Google program. The idea was to help minority-owned small businesses grow their online presence and, just a few months later, the idea became a reality when Accelerate with Google officially launched. The program has since grown into a team of several dozen Googlers, all working to get small, minority-owned businesses online and helping those business owners connect with one another.

Our passionate Googlers, like those behind BGN and Accelerate, allow us to better connect with the Black community and help to create an inclusive and diverse workplace. As we throw dozens of celebrations around the country in our Atlanta, Chicago, Ann Arbor, New York, Los Angeles and Mountain View offices to mark Black History Month, we invite you to join us by following our Google for Students and Life at Google pages on Google+, where we’ll be hosting photos, recaps and hangouts throughout the month.

Mind the Gap: Encouraging women to study engineering

Women make up more than half the global population, but hold fewer than a third of the world’s engineering jobs. In the U.S., female students comprise fewer than 15 percent of all Advanced Placement computer science test takers. Even in high-tech Israel, few girls choose computer science. Not only is this a loss to companies like Google and everyone who benefits from a continually developing web; it's also a lost opportunity for girls.

Beginning in 2008, a group of female engineers at Google in Israel decided to tackle this problem. We established the “Mind the Gap!” program, aimed at encouraging girls to pursue math, science and technology education. In collaboration with the Israeli National Center for Computer Science Teachers, we began organizing monthly school visits for different groups of girls to the Google office and annual tech conferences at local universities and institutes. The girls learn about computer science and technology and get excited about its applications, as well as have a chance to talk with female engineers in an informal setting and see what the working environment is like for them.



Since we started this program over three years ago, we’ve hosted more than 1,100 teenage girls at our office, and an additional 1,400 girls at three annual conferences held in leading universities. These 2,500 students represent 100 schools from all sectors and from all over the country: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tira, Beer-Sheva, Jerusalem, Nazareth and more; what they have in common is the potential to become great computer scientists.

The results are encouraging. For instance, some 40 percent of the girls who participated in last year’s conference later chose computer science as a high school major.

We encourage people in other countries, at other companies and in other scientific disciplines to see how they could replicate this program. You can read more at the project site. Currently, we are working with the Google in Education group to expand the program to more offices globally and get even more young women excited about computer science. The difference we can make is real: At one of our first visits three years ago, we met a 10th grade student named Keren who enjoyed math but had never considered computer science as a high school major. Last month, Keren informed us that the visit made such an impact on her, she decided to change her major to computer science. “Talking to women in the field helped me change my mind,” she said.