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ACM-W Connections. September 2016

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Welcome to the September, 2016, issue of ACM-W Connections. 

This month I’m writing this while in Linz, Austria.  For the first time I am attending the ACM-W Europe Council meeting in person, rather than by Skype.  It’s great to be part of all the discussions rather than just joining for 30 minutes.  Tomorrow we will welcome over 100 participants to the third ACM-W Europe womENcourage conference. 

After our August break, we have lots of news for you this month.  Of course, we have our usual reports from ACM-W India, our Chapters committee, and the Scholarships committee.  The Celebrations committee has sent a report from our first events in Spain and Chile.  Also noteworthy:

  • The Women in Computer Graphics group has sent a report on their activities at SIGGRAPH 2016.  We look forward to ongoing collaboration with them as they continue to increase their activities around women in computer graphics.
  • The ACM-W chapter at Stawa University, Uganda, has sent a report about their ongoing efforts to bring computer lessons to women in rural villages.
  • We also have a report on the 10th Women in Computability program, held during the Computability in Europe conference and sponsored by ACM-W. 

I hope you enjoy all this news.  Please let us know about activities in your area so that we can include that in a future issue of ACM-W Connections.  And expect a full report next month on womENcourage 2016!

I also have a wonderful story from Martha Kosa who has been handling all of our ACM-W swag (tech tattoos, brochures, table drapes).  Martha traveled to Romania and Hungary this summer.  Of course, she took some of our great Ada Lovelace tech tattoos with her.  Martha reported

When I was in Romania, I was talking to the waitress at a restaurant where I was eating lunch, and I learned that she was studying computer science at Petru Maior University in Targu Mures, where I was staying.  I had brought some stickers to give to the Skool group (Hungary's Girls Who Code).  I gave some of the stickers to the young waitress to give to her friends in computer science, and I gave the rest to Skool's founder on Monday.  Skool's office is part of Impact Hub Budapest.  Skool's founder,  Zso'fi (Sophia) Major, greatly appreciated the stickers and planned to give them to Skool workshop attendees.

Please let us know if you want some ACM-W tech tattoos so that you can spread the word and help us gain more visibility.

Thanks, as always, for your work on behalf of women in computing!

~Valerie Barr, ACM-W Chair

Special Report: Behind the scenes - Women in CG at SIGGRAPH

Over the last 43 years SIGGRAPH in North America, the biggest ACM conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques has grown and evolved, and so has the voices of women in this ever-changing field. Three years ago the ACM SIGGRAPH International Resources Committee (IRC) brought the conversation on this topic to SIGGRAPH for the first time with a panel session aptly called, “Women in CG”.

In 2016, the focus “50-50” resulted in a panel session so successful that it drew a crowd of more than 100 people for one hour, into a room that is only able to sit 80 people. The repeated success of the session has established “Women in CG” as a recurring event at the SIGGRAPH conference with a global outlook. Our next venture will be SIGGRAPH Asia 2016, to be celebrated in Macao at The Venetian Macao from 5 – 8 December 2016 (https://sa2016.siggraph.org/en/), followed bySIGGRAPH 2017, in Los Angeles from 30 July - 3 August 2017.

Want to learn more about Women in CG at SIGGRAPH? Read the full article here.

News From ACM-W Chapters

Summer Report from ACM-W Uganda

This summer was a great period for ACM-W, Uganda Chapter, as we saw more Ugandan women join the chapter and more villages open up their doors to the chapter for activities in computer lessons.   The summer also saw more streamlining of activities and prioritizing of objectives, both for rural and city outreaches, thereby making progress on our quest to meet the needs of women at different levels in Uganda.

During the summer months, ACM-W was able to work out a computer literacy program that addresses the needs of women living in impoverished urban areas, such as certain slums and very low income communities, thanks in part to Stawa University’s willingness to avail facilities and equipment for this vital mission establishing ACM-W Technology Center.  As such, through this center, ACM-W is now addressing the need of women in urban areas who are computer illiterate.  Slum dwelling women stand a great, daily chance of using computer skills to advance their livelihoods, for most of these are engaged in small business venture and or low level employments where computer skills come in handy, thereby securing jobs and or making their businesses more competitive, to say little of making themselves more desirable to, or sought after by, employers.

ACM-W Uganda Chapter views the proliferation of smart phones, the pocket computer, as a great call to leverage urban women’s skills so that they can take advantage of the social media in advancing their businesses and other needful activities in order to better their livelihood.   In light of this reality, ACM-W is planning a series of workshops and short courses designed to highlight to the women the potential benefits of just not the computer, but also of the smart phone in light of the social media.  In sum, ACM-W in Uganda is taking women from merely taking photos of themselves and posting them on Facebook to taking photos of their businesses and posting them on the internet for a worldwide clientele.

In one of the weekly reports filed with the  ACM-W office this summer, Doris Nalubega, a student at Stawa University and a teacher in a local primary schools, in discussing a weekly rural outreach,  said, “We carried on from the previous home work assignment, where the students were supposed to do the letters of the alphabet both in upper case and lower case. The assignment was marked and the feedback was provided.”  In her lesson to the rural women, Doris said “No one can write what they can’t read and no one can read what they can’t write.”  During the lesson she explained that “The alphabet is made up consonants and vowels, and that the importance of learning the alphabets is to be able to read.”  During the lesson she had taught each letter's name, its sound, and showed the printed form.

In a different weekly report filed with the ACM-W office, in regards to teaching computer skills to rural women, Harriet Onyinge, another student at Stawa University and ACM-W member, taught a computer package for the day.  The report goes on to state:

“She skillfully guided the women through the significant steps when using a computer.  She taught the students how to start a computer, and each student had a try at it. She showed them how to move the cursor, to open an application, to begin typing, how to minimize and to maximize, to save, and how to close or shut down the computer.”

Students at Stawa University do a weekly fundraising in order to purchase some household items which they freely donate to these often impoverished, rural women during each ACM-W outing to the villages.  Among the items they donate, one choice item is soap.   In one of the reports filed to ACM-W office during the past two months, students stated, “At the end of the lesson, each participant took home a piece of soap.  What a nice way to crown the day!”

Project Rise Up 4 CS

ACM-W student chapters can implement the Rise Up program, designed to help students pass the Advanced Placement CS exam.

ACM-W's friend, Barb Ericson at Georgia Tech, started "Project Rise Up 4 CS" 5 years ago to help more African-American students pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam in Georgia. The number of African-Americans passing the exam in Georgia has been increasing since "Project Rise Up 4 CS" started. Two years ago she started "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" to help more women pass the AP CS A exam. The number of women passing the exam in Georgia has been increasing as well.  We don't know how many participants would have passed anyway, but at least some of the participants have said that they wouldn't have passed the exam without Rise UP.    

Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" offers help sessions led by undergraduate students.  There are two types of help sessions:  twice-a-week one-hour Google hangouts on air and once-a-month, three-hour in-person sessions at a local college or university.  The undergraduate students serve as near-peer role models to help increase the participants' sense of belonging in computing.  The hangouts are intended to encourage practice and address misconceptions.  The in-person help sessions allow students to feel that they belong at their local college or university in computer science.  

Barb wants to expand "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" to more colleges and universities.  The project provides a perfect ACM-W Chapters outreach project.  Barb created a free e-book to help both the undergraduate students lead the webinars as well as the high school students prepare for the Java-based exam: http://tinyurl.com/JavaReview. Barb also created an ebook to help others start "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS".   See: http://ice-web.cc.gatech.edu/ce21/SRU4CS/index.html.

If your ACM-W Chapter decides to implement either Rise Up program, please let us know and also write to Barb at ericson@cc.gatech.edu.

News From ACM-W Celebrations

Summer Celebrations took place in Valencia Spain (July 1, 2016) and Santiago Chile (August 12, 2016).  Virginia Grande (Uppsala University) describes the Informática Para Tod@s (Informatics for All) celebration held in Valencia as “passionate”.  At the event, professionals from industry and academia mingled with students of all levels and discussed technical aspects of different areas in computing, as well as topics related to the role that gender plays in this profession. In addition, a poster session reflecting the current state of art in various fields of computer science, and the sessions provided many opportunities for attendees to exchange ideas.

The very inspiring speakers not only shared their work and advice but also their drive and their enthusiasm.  The environment was supportive and empowering, and attendees learned that difficulties, although unpleasant, are possible to overcome. They learned that there is no obstacle too high for a woman in computing, especially with access to a network like the one formed by the attendees.

The next Celebration in Spain will happen in 2017. (Interested in helping? Contact Virginia Grande vgrande@acm.org).

ChileWIC (http://www.chilewic.cl), the first Celebration in Chile was co-organized by academics from three major Chilean universities: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de Chile, and Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.  The event was divided into two sessions: a morning session, aimed at high school students and first-year engineering students, and an afternoon session with the focus on academic and professional issues. The morning session had Daniela Gattoni, from Axiom Zen, as keynote speaker. She shared her experiences participating in Hackathons. The afternoon session had Jeanna Matthews, from Clarkson University, who shared her insights on how to begin a successful academic career. There were many small talks, showcasing a diversity of projects that students are working on in Chile, and a poster session to foster discussion and networking. The anonymous judges chose the best student presentations, and Yasett Acurana from Universidad de Chile won the student research competition. In addition, two very interesting panels took place: one focused on computer science students’ experiences and another on the Impostor Syndrome. It was a day packed with lots of interesting talks, discussion and audience participation, and getting to know each other.

We have 20 ACM Celebrations planned for the coming year.  Upcoming Celebrations include:

  • womENcourage 2016 (Austria)  – September 12/13, 2016
  • RMCWiC (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana) – September 22/23, 2016
  • AMCWiCGOA (Goa, India) – September 24, 2016
  • INWIC (Indiana) – September 30/October 1, 2016
  • AICWiC (All India) – October 6/7, 2016

If you would like more information on any of these events or would like to organize an event in your area, please contact Wendy Powley (wendy@cs.queensu.ca) for more information.  We can help you get started!

News From ACM-W Scholarships

The ACM-W Scholarship for Attendance of Research Conferences program provides support for women students in Computer Science and related programs who wish to attend research conferences.

This month we announce the scholars chosen in August, 2016. This time we were able to offer scholarships to seven students. From undergraduate to PhD students, some of our scholars are going to the User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST) in Japan, others to Intl. Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering in Seattle, USA. We offer congratulations to Stepheny Perez, Nediyana Daskalova, Yuliana Zamora, Midori Yang, Melina Mongiovi, Brittany Johnson and Hanieh Javadi Khasraghi. Well done!!! Have fun and learn lots at your conferences and don’t forget to take pictures and write us nice reports with details of what you saw and learn.

The committee that judges these scholarships changes from time to time and this month we are happy to welcome Elena Viojo to the committee.  Elena has many years of experience in computing in industry and has recently joined the Digital Government team in Uruguay, known as  AGESIC (Agencia para el Desarrollo del Gobierno de Gestión Electrónica y la Sociedad de la Información y del Conocimiento) the Uruguayan Agency for the Development of the Government of Electronic Management and the Society of Information and Knowledge. Having members of the judging committee from different parts of the world is one of our goals.

The scholarship exposes students to prominent researchers in their field, introduces students to new research, and excites them about doing research themselves. We ask students to share with us some of their thoughts on the conference they attend, preferably with a picture, so that we can show our readers and funders the diversity of our winners. We never cease to find truly inspiring stories!

The next application deadline is October 15 for conferences taking place in December 2016 and January 2017. For more information and to apply visit: women.acm.org/scholarship.  If you have any questions, please contact  the scholarship committee chair Prof. Adriana Compagnoni, Adriana.Compagnoni@stevens.edu

A small souvenir from the work over the summer: Adriana Compagnoni talking with ACM-W Council members and the new President of ACM, Bobby Schnabel. (From his Twitter account.)

News From ACM-W India

National Level Hackathon Event

ACM-W India along with Oracle Academy is organizing a National Level Hackathon. 71 Teams participated in the first online submission round. A panel of eminent judges reviewed the entries and have selected 10 teams for the finals to be held on September 23rd at Goa University.

ACM-W Celebrations at Goa

ACM-W India is happy to announce its celebration event to be held in Goa during September 23-24, 2016. The venue is Goa University.  The keynote address will be delivered by Dr.Madhavan Mukund, Chair, ACM India.  A technical talk will be delivered by Dr. Pandurang Kamat, Chief Architect , Innovation and R&D, Persistent Systems, Goa. This will be followed by a Panel Discussion on “Creating Conducive Environment for quality research in Indian Universities”.  To be part of this event, register at  https://goa.acm.org/acmwcelebration

Lady ADA Programming Contest

ACM-W India is glad to announce Lady Ada Programming Contest for girl students.  The final round of the competition will be on 6th October 2016 at UPES, Dehradun

ACM-W Celebrations at Dehradun

ACM-W India invites you to attend the Annual Women in Computing Celebration Event AICWiC 2016 to be held over a period of 2 days on 6th -7th  October 2016 at UPES Dehradun. Prof. Margaret Burnett, Oregon State University, USA, will deliver the keynote address.  A  Women Faculty Academic Summit is planned for 6th October 2016. For registration and more details, visit www.upesacmwomen.org

‘IAmPower’ Initiative

ACM-W India is collaborating with IIT Bombay on the ‘IAmPower’ initiative with a vision for promoting Women in STEM and enabling India's women community to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Workshops are being organized at ACM Student Chapters during the months of August and September 2016.

News From ACM-W Europe

Report on the 10th Women in Computability program

The 10th Women in Computability program was organized during the annual conference Computability in Europe (CiE), held from 27 June to 1 July 2016 in Paris. This program is run by the Association Computability in Europe association since 2007 and comprised this year a workshop, a diner, a mentoring program and a granting scheme for young female researchers. In previous years this program was sponsored by Elsevier and this was the first year that ACM-Women sponsored the program.

ACM-W Europe delivered a very detailed report about the event. If you would like to know more about their travel grants, mentoring programs, workshops, WiC meeting and ACiE special interest group, please read the report here.

Announcements

  • Would you like to contribute an article to the ACM-W Newsletter?
    With a distribution list reaching thousands of ACM-W members, contributing to the newsletter is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and information across a wide audience. Submit a proposal for an article http://women.acm.org/submit.