ACM-W Connections – October, 2014

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Welcome to the October issue of ACM-W Connections. And what an exciting month it has been since our September issue! This issue includes a write-up about the ACM-W Celebration event in Goa, India. We have a very interesting article about the “applauds project” at Lawrence Livermore Lab, a project that should be replicable elsewhere. We also have a report from a group of very committed high school students in Mason, Ohio, who put together a summer camp for middle school girls.

I’ve just come home from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Amazingly, I have now attended 13 of the 14 GHCs that have taken place, including the very first one in 1994. As some of you reading this already know, the conference was huge this year! There were 8000 attendees, over 2800 students from 441 schools, and attendees from 67 countries. The exhibition hall was a beehive of activity and we had a lot of traffic in the joint ACM/ACM-W/ACM CCECC/CSTA booth, making lots of great contacts amongst our various constituencies.

We have some very exciting news that I announced first at the Hopper conference. ACM-W is working with Mentornet with a goal of getting at least half of all undergraduate women CS students in the U.S. mentored via the Mentornet platform. Microsoft Research is supporting this effort by providing funding to Mentornet and encouraging their staff to sign up to be mentors (though we fully expect that mentors from many many companies will eventually be needed). We will be sending our ACM-W student chapters information on how to join and sign up for a mentor. If you know of an ACM-W chapter that has lapsed, encourage them to sign back up so that they don’t miss out on this opportunity.

In a last note about the Hopper Conference, I would be remiss if I did not address the uproar about the remarks made by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. In case you missed it, in response to a question asked by Maria Klawe (president of Harvey Mudd College and member of Microsoft’s Board of directors), Nadella said that women should not ask for pay raises (in truth, he said nobody should ask for raises, but Maria’s question was specifically about women). He said he trusted in the review system, and that if someone’s work is good it would eventually be rewarded. As you can imagine, the conference and the web lit up, followed soon thereafter by all other forms of media as well.

Here are my thoughts on this matter:

  1. As a result of the ruckus, the Grace Hopper Celebration and the situation for women in computing got more press and more visibility than ever before. That’s a very good outcome.

  2. The situation provided a great opportunity for people to talk about the fact that meritocracy does not work when there is implicit bias. Nadella may think that the Microsoft review process is fair and unbiased, but given that women in tech in the U.S. earn only $0.86 for every $1.00 earned by men, he should seriously research what the actual numbers are for Microsoft, and then adjust salaries accordingly.

  3. This incident provided a very valuable lesson for the students at the conference. The companies recruiting at Hopper are trying very hard to improve their diversity statistics. The conference gives them access to a lot of women job candidates, and they treat the students very well (fancy swag, food, private events, interview booths, raffles, etc.). It would be easy for the students to be deluded into thinking that everything is great now in the tech world and women are always well treated. Nadella’s comments serve as a reminder that women entering the field still have to be prepared to advocate for themselves when they negotiate starting salaries and subsequent raises.

  4. I don’t doubt for a minute that Nadella, along with many other tech CEOs right now, considers himself a strong advocate for women in computing. He is noteworthy for being the first tech CEO of that level to come to Hopper, and he spent a lot of time there. He still has some things to learn, as do many people in this field. As we know, there are many hearts and minds that need to be changed, and more to be learned by even some of our best allies.

Thanks, as always, for supporting ACM-W and women in computing. We still have a ways to go in our efforts.

~Valerie Barr, ACM-W Chair

Articles of interest

Applauding Livermore Women in Computing

A new project of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Women’s Association recognizes the technical and administrative of women at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Read more this project and women it recognizes here.

Research Focus: Learning Game Design Characteristics through the Study of Flow and the
Elemental Tetrad in the World of Warcraft & Minecraft. By Dr. Quiana Bradshaw, DCS

Dr. Quiana Bradshaw researches the design of education games. Learn more about her latest work read the full article here.

Introduction to Computing Summer Camp. By Jessica Xiang and Sara Xiang

The AspireIT Middle School Outreach Program by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) introduces middle school girls to computer science through innovative curriculum lead by near-peer high school and college students. For more information about this program, read the full article here.

News From ACM-W Chapters

The ACM-W Chapters project leaders met many chapter leaders at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. One woman told us to give Zarina (at ACM Headquarters in New York City) a big hug for all of the help with setting up her chapter. Remember that ACM @NYC can give you one-on-one help in chartering a chapter, in writing the brief annual report, etc. In fact, there is a wonderful one-on-one webinar for all new chapters. For more information, email chartering@acm.org.

~Gloria Townsend, chair of the ACM-W Chapters Committee

ACM-W Celebrations

All India Celebrations of Women in computing conference at Goa University on 26th September.

Dr Satish Shetye, Vice-Chancellor, Goa University inaugurated the All India Celebrations of Women in Computing 2014 conference organized by ACM-Goa in association with ACM-Women India and Goa University on 26th September at 9.30 am at the conference hall of the Goa University.

ACM-W aims to support, celebrate and advocate full engagement of women in computing across the globe. It facilitates women’s academic and professional journey in the field of computing through mentoring or role modeling and works with the ACM community of computer scientists, educators, employers and policy makers to improve working and learning environments for women.

This event is ACM-W Goa’s first ever Regional Celebration of Women in Computing. This one-day celebration had several intellectually enriching opportunities for women students and professionals in the field of computing. It brought together a unique opportunity of collective learning, interacting with world class researchers and peers and discussing the work-in progress research to an enlightened audience and getting their valuable insights.

Caption: Dr Silvia Giordano (ACM Distinguished Speaker from Switzerland), Dr. Srinivas Padmanabhuni, (President, ACM-India), Dr. Sheila Anand (Chair, ACM-W India), and Mr Chandrashekhar Sahasrabudhe (Persistent Systems, Pune) graced the occasion at the inaugural ceremony.

Dr Silvia Giordano who is an ACM Distinguished Speaker and professor and head of the University of Applied Science, Switzerland delivered a keynote address on Mobile Hoc Networking: Cutting edge Directions. This was followed by a Tutorial on Visualization by Jaya Sreevalsan Nair, International Institute of Information Technology – Bangalore (IIIT-Bangalore). Rashmi Mohan,of Yahoo! Labs talked about ‘What does my machine learn about me?’.

Dr Arati Dixit, Savitribai Phule (Pune) University spoke on the “Life and Work of Shafi Goldwasser”. This was followed by Work in Progress Presentations by a eminent group of researchers.

Dr. Nutan Limaye, IIT Bombay enthralled the audience with her lively talk on “Theoretically speaking: The Why and How of Efficient Computation”.

Shailaja Sardessai, Directorate of Education, Goa moderated the Panel discussion on Career- “Break Ke Baad?” featuring panelists such as Silvia Giordano (ACM DSP), Sheila Anand (ACM-W India Chair), Geetha Kannan (Head, Anita Borg Institute), Suji Gopalan (Oracle Academy) and Pallavi Desai (Persistent HR) who provided their valuable insights on how women can keep abreast of technologies, continue networking, and overcome hurdles in getting back to work after a break in their career.

The chief guest at the closing ceremony, Prof. Vijayendra P Kamat, Registrar, Goa University, presented the prizes to the winners of the first Lady Ada National Programming Contest for girl students that were held as part of this conference. The Lady Ada National Programming Contest was sponsored by Oracle Academy and held in collaboration with ACM India and ReliScore.

The conference was sponsored by Microsoft Research, Oracle Academy, Google, Persistent Systems, Directorate of Information Technology, Goa Goverment, and Goa Tourism Development Corporation, and ACM-W.

An organizing committee under the chairmanship of Dr V V Kamat, Head, Dept of Computer Science & Technology along with ACM Goa members Ramrao Wagh, Maria and Amish Choudhary, Arati Dixit, Ambuja Salgaonkar, Jyoti Pawar, Venkatesh Prabhu, Shailaja Sardessai, Girish Bharne, Sanjay Joshi, Anay Kamat and the students of the Computer Science Department of Goa University worked tirelessly to make this conference a success.

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