In this month's DAC Newsletter Peggy Aycinena explores the Workshop for Women in EDA scheduled for Monday, July 24th. The Workshop for Women in EDA is one of several workshops presented at DAC and is an important fixture on the DAC landscape. Today's feature coincides with the call for nominations for the Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Award which honors a person who has made significant contributions to the development of women in the EDA industry.

Take this chance to bring fame and glory to a deserving candidate who has helped lead the charge in advancing opportunities for women in this notoriously male dominated field - 89% of DAC attendees are men. The nomination deadline is April 3, 2006.


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The Workshop for Women in Design Automation
WWINDA 2006 looks at the 80-20 rule

by Peggy Aycinena

For a number of years, the Workshop for Women in Design Automation (WWINDA) has been a fixture on the first day of the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC). The workshop runs all afternoon on the Monday of DAC and includes a luncheon, a keynote address - this year's speaker, Reynette Au, is Vice President of Business Licensing at NVIDIA - and a panel discussion highlighting the topic de jour for the year. This year's particular topic will be career growth and development.

Beyond the discussions, the centerpiece of the afternoon is the presentation of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award, an honor conferred annually on a woman who has been deemed by the DAC Committee* to have contributed significantly to the growth and recognition of women in the design automation industry. Past winners have included Karen Bartelson, Deirdre Hanford, Penny Herscher, Mary Jane Irwin, Kathryn Kranen and Ann Rincon.

This year, at DAC 2006 in San Francisco, Gartner Dataquest Vice President Daya Nadamuni will be Chair of the WWINDA event. Sabina Burns, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Virage Logic, will be Vice Chair. I had a chance recently to speak by phone with Daya and Sabina to better understand the plans for the 2006 workshop, and to discuss why they feel so strongly that people need to make an effort to be there.

Daya and Sabina told me there are two reasons why you should be planning to attend the Workshop for Women in Design Automation on the afternoon of July 24th at DAC. The first reason is the quality of the presentations that will take place over the course of the afternoon. The keynote address and panel discussion will provide insights into how to "crack the code" and realize the 80 percent benefit that can often be obtained with 20 percent of the work. Showcasing real life examples and providing practical suggestions, the workshop's goal is to help attendees learn how to zero-in on what matters to achieve career results and manage work/life balance.

Daya told me, "I would advise people to plan on attending the WWINDA event at DAC, because they will come away with a number of practical lessons in how to deal with everyday challenges - real strategies that attendees can work into their day-to-day decision making processes. There is no gender bias at the workshop - men are very welcome - but the historical division of labor is such that, from a practical perspective, women are in particular need of learning how to balance their personal and professional lives. People who attend the workshop will walk away with some very tangible lessons they can apply to their own lives."

Sabina added, "We defined the topic for this year's workshop in conjunction with the DAC Committee, and we all agreed it should center on career coaching, specifically this 80-20 rule concept. What is the 20 percent you should be placing your focus on to achieve 80 percent benefit and deliver maximum results? Examining this metric closely will help you be more effective, and help provide the success you're looking for. Of course, this is an issue that is not just important to women, but is important to everyone - how to make ourselves more effective within the limited hours of the day."

Although lessons in career development are valuable to everyone, Daya and Sabina emphasized the second good reason to attend the WWINDA event in July applies to women, in particular. Per Daya, "If you are a woman involved in the design automation community, or high-tech in general, this workshop will provide an excellent opportunity for you to network with other women similarly engaged in the industry."

She added, "This meeting gives women a chance to hear from other women who have been successful in their careers, and the workshop is not just aimed at women who are on the CEO or senior-executive track. The event is designed for all women in design automation and high-tech, whether they are in the trenches in engineering, sales, or MarCom, or making their way through the maze of middle management. The question for all of these women is - How do you measure your life and your level of success? More importantly, what is your definition of success? The definition is different for different people. We want to offer practical suggestions during the course of the afternoon that will help our attendees gain insights into these issues, and how such questions can impact career and personal development."

That said, Daya and Sabina are not oblivious to the thornier issues facing women in design automation, the first being how to get time off from DAC-related duties to attend the WWINDA event. The second being, how to make women working in high-tech - but not necessarily in design automation - aware of the workshop and the benefits of attending, even if they are not attending DAC per se.

Sabina addressed the first issue: "We know there is often criticism of the women in the DAC booth who get to take the afternoon off to attend the Women in Design Automation Workshop, but at the end of the day it's really about delivering results."

"Whether at DAC or throughout the rest of the year, I think we all prefer not to be told we must be at work from 8 to 5. I want to work in a culture where, if I have to come in at 9 because I have to take the children to school, the organization still knows that I'm fully committed to my work. As we all know - so many times, the people who have flexibly in their schedules, to attend educational sessions such as WWINDA or take care of family obligations, are the same ones who are also working weekends, and working on e-mail late into the evening, because they have a highly developed sense of responsibility to their employer, as well as to their family."

Daya said, "I would add to Sabina's comments that the core concept of this workshop is to help employees, women or men, say that they need time away from the booth at various points during DAC to go and learn. If an employee wants to be away from the booth for a learning opportunity, no matter what it is, by planning ahead and making sure that things are covered, everyone's needs can be met."

Daya addressed the second difficult question surrounding WWINDA: how to get women involved in technology outside of design automation to attend the workshop. Daya said, "We are developing a list of contacts at various universities, and we're hoping those contacts will spread the word about the workshop to their female graduate and undergraduate students. We want the universities to promote the workshop within their departments. This kind of event can help young women interested in pursuing careers in science and engineering stay on track."

"Of course," Daya said, "Anyone interested in spreading the word about the WWINDA - whether they are in academia or industry - would be welcome to do so, by reaching out to their own list of contacts in the industry."

Sabina added, "In addition, we're hoping that because DAC is being held in the Bay Area this year, people in the industry who may not normally attend DAC, will opt to attend the workshop this year."

"There are a whole host of women who could benefit greatly from the information and panel discussions we plan to showcase during the afternoon. [In fact], we're putting together a list of many of the local companies who are using EDA technology who might want to promote attendance at the WWINDA event among their women employees. We want companies to impress upon those employees the instructional nature of stepping outside of their daily experiences to hear from women in different disciplines and different careers about how they have structured their career paths."

Daya concluded: "It's only through this kind of education and networking that the numbers of women involved in technology fields, in particular design automation, will continue to grow. It is true that balancing life and career is not purely the provenance of women in technology - these issues affect both men and women - however, the differences in high-tech are even more marked. Unlike other jobs in other industries where you can clock in at 8 and clock out at 5, there are few women or men in technology who actually do that. More than in any other field, I strongly feel that focusing on those aspects of your career that will make you most productive in a high-tech career environment is a huge priority - and therefore, appropriately, the core topic of our workshop this summer at DAC."

She ended, "Please join us in San Francisco on July 24th."


* Please note: Nominations for the Marie R. Pistilli Award are now being accepted. The DAC Executive Committee will present the annual award at the WWINDA Luncheon on July 24th, honoring an individual who has made significant contributions in helping women advance in the field of EDA technology. Nominations for the award will be accepted through April 3, 2006 and can be submitted online at the DAC website:

Peggy Aycinena writes EDA Confidential at She can be reached at

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Highlighted Video Sessions:
Free streaming audio, video and slides from selected 42nd DAC presentations.

SESSION 16 | Special Session: Closing the Power Gap Between ASIC and Custom. Papers 16.1-16.3

The papers presented in these videos are balanced to provide a mixture of custom and ASIC perspectives, as well as to provide a mixture of academic and industrial perspectives. Similar sessions (focused on speed rather than power) at DAC 2000 and 2001 were well attended. The work of the presenters has refocused on power, and there are sufficient results now to give a mature perspective.