WITops is dedicated to developing knowledge and practical techniques to help technology companies engage and retain women and other diverse persons. We build actionable tested processes, techniques, guidance, measures, and educational games or other ways to encourage change and increase success for women at work. All that we do is grounded in a deep understanding of women’s lives and work experience.
WITops started with a set of dedicated volunteer professionals. Grass roots volunteerism is core to our approach to involve the industry in co-creating change. We partner with individuals, organizations, universities, and companies dedicated and passionate about helping women in technology thrive. By donating time and financial support we can make change as a STEM community.
WITops is now a research wing of InContext Design founded in 2018.
Karen Holtzblatt is a noted technology thought leader, speaker and author. She founded WITops in 2018 to address the declining numbers and satisfaction of women in technology professions and other STEM careers.
Karen introduced Contextual Inquiry, now the industry standard for gathering field data to understand how technology impacts the way people work. Contextual Inquiry and the other Contextual Design techniques created a revolutionary approach for designing products and systems based on a deep understanding of the user’s world. WITops research and innovative intervention techniques are guided by the principles of Contextual Design.
Karen co-founded InContext Design in 1992 with Hugh Beyer to use Contextual Design techniques to coach product teams and deliver market data and design solutions to businesses across scores of industries in many countries. Their latest book, Contextual Design: Design for Life, is a complete update of the classic Contextual Design book used in universities and organizations worldwide. At InContext Karen has been working with product and design teams for over 30 years.
As a member of ACM SIGCHI (The Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction) Karen was awarded membership to the CHI Academy a gathering of significant contributors and received the first Lifetime Award for Practice for her impact on the field.
Karen is also an Adjunct Research Scientist at the University of Maryland’s iSchool (College of Information Studies). Karen has worked with many universities to help design curriculum for training user experience professionals. She now collaborates with professors and students at UMD on projects related to WIT.
Karen has more than 30 years of teaching experience professionally, at conferences and university settings. She holds a doctorate in applied psychology from the University of Toronto.
Nicola Marsden is a professor of social informatics at Heilbronn University, Germany. She combines insights from psychology, software engineering, design research, and organizational behavior to improve collaboration and foster innovation in technology development. Her research is based on a combination of experience in both academia and industry, often with a gender or cross-cultural perspective. In her transformation work with people, teams, and organizations she offers a balance between scientific knowledge and a practical approach.
Throughout her career, Nicola has worked toward bias-free equal opportunity for women. Nicola is vice chair of the National Competence Center Technology-Diversity-Equal Opportunities in Germany, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring equal opportunity for women and men in STEM education and industry. The competence center produces research-based resources and developed and coordinates nationwide initiatives such as the Girls’ Day or Boys’ Day program. This program helps young people choose a profession based on their individual strengths and talents, rather than clichés or gender stereotypes.
Nicola’s most recent academic research examines behavioral design to de-bias collaboration, human-computer interaction, and design processes. She has also worked as a key collaborator with Karen Holtzblatt on the mission of WITops to understand and create solutions to retain women in technology.
Her extensive work with corporations also uses a theory-based, practical systems perspective to design, implement and manage innovation projects, change processes, training and development programs, and strategic development projects. Her long-standing experience working with organizations in different countries allows Nicola to translate research into everyday practices to improve group dynamics and perspectives.