Barbara Ryder, the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and head of  the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, will receive the biennial Woman of Achievement award from the American Association of University Women of Virginia at its state conference at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake on April 5, 2014.

"This award is given to a Virginia woman who has made outstanding educational, civic, and cultural contributions; demonstrated excellent leadership skills; and contributed to the advancement of women with positive impact in our state and nation," said Caroline Pickens, AAUW state president. "Additionally, this year we are focusing on women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. It is a priority of AAUW of Virginia to encourage and support women and girls' interest and entrance into STEM careers. By all measures, Dr. Ryder surpasses this criteria."

Ryder is a founding member of the National Center for Women and Information Technology Pacesetters program that strives to increase the number of women in computer science. She continues working with Pacesetters, holding the position of Virginia Tech's executive champion for the program.

She has worked to increase the number of women graduating from college with technical degrees by targeting outreach efforts to high schools. She has organized visits to numerous high schools, providing the teenagers with interactions with mentors and with currently enrolled women in computer science. 

"Our goal here is to connect with about 100 high school girls each year," Ryder said.

"We applaud Dr. Ryder's work with female high school students, and we plan to invite local students to the dinner," Pickens added.

As a member of Pacesetters, Virginia Tech is among some two dozen industrial and academic organizations working to recruit previously untapped talent pools of technical women and retain women who are at risk of leaving, resulting in the capturing of a higher number of new women for the computing and the information technology workforce.

"Women are our competitive advantage in building a workforce that reflects our customer base and creating innovative, technology-driven products and services," Ryder said. "We're excited to see a growing number of women take interest in our highly ranked computer science program."

In 2011, Ryder was a founding member of the NCWIT VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards, directed at recognizing high school women for their strong interest and achievement in computing. 

In the 2013-14 competition, there are 18 winners out of about 100 applications from Virginia and Washington, D.C., high schools. The department offers modest scholarships to each Aspirations award winner who comes to Virginia Tech and majors in computer science. 

"We are very fortunate to have six national or regional Aspirations winners among our majors," Ryder remarked. "These students are an asset in recruiting and outreach activities of the department."

Ryder is a Fellow of the ACM since 1998, received the ACM President's Award in 2008, and its SIGPLAN Distinguished Service Award in 2001. She is an active leader in ACM, serving in multiple leadership capacities. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Computer Research Association from 1998 until 2001.

At Rutgers where she was on the faculty before coming to Virginia Tech in 2008, she received the Graduate School Teaching Award in 2007, the Leader in Diversity Award in 2006, and the Professor of the Year Award in computer science in 2003.

She received her bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from Brown University, a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in computer science from Rutgers University in 1982.

AAUW's mission promotes equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Virginia's 1,300 members in 28 branches share your commitment to the importance of women's participation in non-traditional fields.