Greetings from the ACMW Communications Co-Chairs: Bettina Bair and Sarah McRoberts

The goal of the Communications Committee is to empower the communications of all chapters and levels of leadership with tools, frameworks, and our global platforms. We are growing our organizational communication to bring in the experiences from our chapters and celebrations and share our knowledge and support from our leadership. Especially during these challenging times, we want to help the ACM-W stay connected and informed.

We amplify ACM-W action.

We’re channeling this mission into two main efforts: reliable communication resources and rich social media presence.

Reliable Communication Resources.

Bettina Bair, Senior Lecturer, Ohio State University

Bettina Bair, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

I’m making core improvements to the way that  information is curated and archived for the community: website, Wikipedia, newsletter, printed matter and so on. Some of the things I have been working on lately include:

Volunteer recognition badges – these are little graphics that your members and volunteers can add to their professional web pages and emails. Check with your ACMW Chapter or Regional leader for more information.

New Website User Experience – We’re working with a small team of undergrad interns to collect user requirements and design a new website user experience that will empower you to focus on the ACMW content that is important to you.

Printable Graphics – these are logos, postcards, posters, stickers and other graphics that you can download and print for your chapter or celebration.

Booth Decorations – we’ve been investing in booth decorations, like reusable posters and swag, that will distinguish ACMW at GHC and regional celebrations.

Newsletter Process and Format. You’ve probably noticed that the format of our monthly newsletter has changed. We’ve also modified our editorial processes so that we give you a few really interesting stories each month, instead of dozens of briefs.

Sarah McRoberts, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

Rich Social Media Presence

Sarah McRoberts, User Experience Researcher, Google

My vision for ACM-W is making it easier for us to share our stories and stay up to date about ACM-W/ACM news and opportunities. Here is some work I’m starting up on behalf of ACM-W.

Growing our ACM-W community across the social media landscape – It’s important to us to be able to meet ACM-W members  on the platforms where they’re already sharing and collecting information about their work in computing. Perhaps you’re already following our Facebook page, but are you following us on Twitter @OfficialACMW? Or what about our LinkedIn Group? Soon, we’ll also be launching our official Instagram account. Make sure to tag us when you have local ACM-W events, we love to share what ACM-W chapters are doing around the world!

Recruiting social media champs for Communication Committee volunteers – Do you love learning about news and history in the world of women in computing? Do you need more excuses to practice photoshop? Do you feel like there’s still something missing from ACM-W’s social media pages? We might be missing you! We are currently recruiting student and professional ACM-W members as volunteers to join an experimental Communications Committee.

This commitment would be for 6 months and consist of 2 or 3 initial video calls, a group chat with fellow Communications Committee members, and about an hour a week of content editing/development/collection (but very flexible). The goal of this group would be to help develop our social media platforms to connect with our members. Communications Committee members would also participate in setting our expectations and practices. If you’re interested in joining or learning more about the group, please fill out this brief questionnaire by August 1st.

Challenges focusing our social media #brand – A question that I often wrestle with is, what are the obligations of the ACM-W platforms? We occasionally are forwarded job listings, scholarship opportunities, and events from outside of the ACM umbrella. While we would never want to withhold an opportunity from our members, we also want to make sure that we are not implicitly endorsing organizations that we don’t know very well. I’m currently developing policies for sharing/resharing to help us maintain transparency and trust on our platforms.

Interview about ACM-W Scholarships

In this newsletter, we have an interview with Prof Viviana Bono, the actual Chair of the Scholarship program. The interview was conducted by Dr Valeria de Paiva, of the Topos Institute, Berkeley, CA.

A few words with Viviana Bono, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, University of Torino, Italy, the Chair of the Scholarship Program since August, 2018.

Viviana Bono, Chair, ACM-W Scholarships

VdP: Viviana, I know you’re very busy, but I thought the students and young professionals we usually work for in the Scholarships program might want to know more about your ideas on the history and future of the program. (We have this written conversation before and while the pandemic was hitting hard both Italy and the US, the places we work from.) So here are some questions for you!

1.  When did you join the Scholarship program? Who invited you to run it?

I joined the Scholarship program committee in 2012, invited by Adriana Compagnoni. At that time we were only three people, including Adriana, the chair. Adriana and I met long ago when I was a PhD student and she was a post-doc. We are in the same field of academic research (Foundations of Programming Languages) and we have become friends over the years. When her chair mandate was over, in 2018, she asked me if I wanted to take over and I accepted gladly.

2. I believe you are  the third “generation” managing the program and by this stage much more money from big companies like Microsoft, Google is available. However joining a moving train, like the ACM-W must be difficult, as they’re always trying to change and improve their ways,right? How difficult is it to be the chairperson of the scholarship program? What are the unexpected difficulties and pleasures of the job?

The ACM-W scholarship program was well-established when I was appointed chair. Up to then, as a member, I concentrated only on the single cycles of applications to select the scholars. Instead, suddenly I had to learn the rules of the trade: start to manage our funds, taking decisions on the behalf of the committee while trying to include all the different points of view and opinions, and make relations with the other chairs in ACM-W. It took me a year to feel comfortable. Certainly, it helped me to meet the ACM-W chair, Jodi Tims, and the other committee chairs in June 2019, in a general meeting in New York. Also, I still find important the advice of Elaine Weyuker, the founder of the scholarship program. What I love the most is to collect and read the reports that the scholars send to us post-conference: they are a source of enthusiasm and inspiration.

3. What do you think is the main motivation for the program? What are its positive points? I know that you’ve managed to get some of the computing systems working better for the program, for example, the awardee reports now get delivered directly to the report pages of the program, instead of having to be manually processed. Do you have more plans like that?

I believe it is important to encourage women to pursue a career in science in general. As computer scientists, we can do this at least within Computer Science. There are countries where the role models for women are still the old ones, wife and mother. And even if a woman has a job, the one in the family entitled to have a career is often the men, husbands and brothers. Being able to go to a conference in the early stages of the studies could be a powerful push for anyone, especially for women, in the direction of pursuing a successful computer science career in academia or in industry. About new plans: there are plans for a  general reconstruction of the ACM-W website, therefore stay tuned for possible novelties.

4. What do you think are the main challenges of the program?

I believe it is important to keep it up-to-date, that is, to go along with the scientific and societal changes. For instance, we are opening up to a broader scope, accepting applications of students not necessarily in CS departments, as long as they work on proper computing projects. This is because interdisciplinarity is becoming more and more important.

5. Did  you think it would take this long to get women into computing?

There were waves in this history. Think of the NASA programmers in the ’60s: they were almost all women. Then men took over. When I was an undergrad student, at the time of the spread of personal computers all over the world, women were back into computing. Now things look like we are going backwards again. I do not really know what the reason is, actually. However, I do think the problem is that interesting jobs are preferentially given to males, unfortunately.

6. What are your expectations for the program now? Do you have big new initiatives that you’d like to see implemented?

The pandemic situation stopped the flow of applications, unfortunately.

While it is important to have online versions of conferences to keep our research going, in-presence conferences are more fruitful in my opinion, as you can make alliances, working and from the human point of view alike, that will last very long. Let’s hope things will get back to normal for everything and everyone. As for new initiatives, the ACM-W scholarship program is well-established, therefore it will not change substantially, I expect. However you never know: once again, stay tuned!

VdP: Thank you Prof Bono, for your enthusiasm and dedication to research and in the Scholarships program!

We hope all of you and yours are staying healthy and well, surviving as best as we can the COVID-19 pandemic!

ACM-W Scholarship for Attendance of Research Conferences

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. The student does not have to present a paper at the conference to be eligible for a scholarship. Applications are evaluated six times each year, to distribute awards across a range of conferences. The program was started in 2013 by Elaine Weyuker.

The ACM Scholarships are made possible by the generous support of Google and Oracle. We ask students to share with us some of their thoughts on the conference they attended, preferably with a picture, so that we can show our readers and supporters the diversity of our winners. We never cease to find truly inspiring stories! The full collection of previous reports can be found now at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2020.

This month we report the names of the winners from the last round of the scholarship awards for conferences, which was decided at the beginning of May 2020. As we explained in the last newsletter, despite the cancellations and postponements forced on us by the coronavirus crisis, we decided to judge requests, as usual, assuming the earlier announced deadlines. Where conferences/workshops are canceled or postponed, we discuss with the students how to best use their awards.

In the penultimate cycle, we managed to contemplate eight students, three undergraduates, one graduate (Master’s program) student, and four doctoral students. The undergraduate students are Divya Yendapally (from the University of Georgia, Athens, USA), Lauren Bhagwandat (from Queen University, Canada) and Shafika Showkat Moni (from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky). Their interests are in very different areas, from EcoFeedback technology in HCI, to security of message passing in autonomous vehicles, via graphics and animation. The only masters’ graduate student is Vartika Agrahari, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Tirupat, India who is attending a meeting on teaching computing to novice programmers in Tartu, Estonia. The doctoral students are Zohreh Dehghani Champiri, from Simon Fraser University, Canada who’s attending HCI in Denmark; Elli Anastasiadi, from Reykjavik University, who planned to attend ICALP in Germany, Raazia Sosan,  from DHA Suffa University, in Karachi, Pakistan who plans to attend SIGGRAPH in Washington, DC and Aakriti Upadhyay, from the University at Albany, SUNY, New York, who plans to attend the Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics (WAFR), in Finland. As you can see, very different fields and very different personal situations. However, with the coronavirus crisis deepening, there were no applications in the last cycle, as the whole world has shut down for several months, as of this writing.

Anyhow, congratulations to all of our winners! We hope you do get to be part of your chosen research communities!

The next application deadline is August 15 for conferences taking place Oct 1 – Nov 30, 2020.  

For more information and to apply visit: https://women.acm.org/scholarships/

If you have any questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair Prof. Viviana Bono, bono@di.unito.it