womENcourage 2021: Preparing for Prague
womENcourage 2021 is to be held in Prague, Czech Republic. The slogan of the event this year is “Bridging Communities to Foster Innovation”. In an increasingly technology-driven world and a rapidly changing economic environment, the field of computing cannot reach its full innovation and creativity potential if formed of homogeneous expertise, represented unevenly only by a fraction of the population. To foster innovation, we shall stop compartmentalising scientific progress by disciplines and encourage innovation across boundaries.
The community behind the scenes of womENcourage 2021 conference, is Czechitas. This Czech non-profit organisation emerged in 2014 to empower and encourage girls and women to engage in computing education or career transition. Czechitas strives to demonstrate that tech is an exciting career direction that is not necessarily difficult nor, more importantly, limited to one gender. Initially established to provide female students in the Czech Republic with an opportunity to put their hands on programming, it now aims at achieving a significant social change. Find out more about Czechitas.
ACM recognizes two European Women as Fellow and Distinguished Member
In January 2021, ACM recognised Prof. Olga Sorkine-Hornung (ETH Zurich) as Fellow for contributions to digital geometry processing, computer animation, computer graphics and visual computing. On the last days of December 2020, Prof. Maribel Fernandez (King’s College London) as a Distinguished Member for Outstanding Contributions to Computing. We congratulate them for their brilliant work and being outstanding role models to all women working in Computing.
We caught up with Prof. Maribel Fernandez in January. Her research interests include programming languages, models of computation and security. She develops tools for the specification, analysis and verification of complex systems (e.g., biochemical systems, financial systems, programming languages, software applications).
“I find it fascinating that there are so many different ways of understanding computation. In addition to the classical models of computation which gave rise to the current computer architectures, there are new models of computation inspired by biochemical processes, by agent interactions, by quantum mechanics.”
ACM-W Europe blog
We are delighted to host guests on ACM-W Europe blog, and this quarter we had fantastic contributions.
Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes – Toni Collis As a community, we embrace our diversity; diversity makes us better, stronger. We cannot do enough to applaud all of our heroes in their diversity. They are people who are ACM members, volunteers or experts in their field. Starting from June 2020, we have reached out to several heroes about their tech career journey, about their perspective on intersectionality and reflect on initiatives for equality. Our December guest was Dr Toni Collis, the CEO of Collis-Holmes Innovations, a Strategic Innovation Leader, Trainer, Consultant and Leadership Coach for women in tech Toni’s career has focused on facilitating the use of technology, with a particular emphasis on parallel computing and supercomputers, for the advancement of research and innovation in both academia and industry. Early on in her career, Toni realised that knowledge was not the only barrier to the uptake of parallel computing in research, but culture limited the participation of women and minorities. As Founder of Women in High-Performance Computing (WHPC), Toni developed and led innovations to diversify the HPC workforce, providing HPC tutorials for women academics and students worldwide, training and consultancy on building inclusive workforces, and research into how to improve the representation of women. Read more from Toni on our blog.
Blog Series: Telling our Stories Each year we meet wonderful women at womENcourage. This year was no different, and in the rest of the year, we will have womENcourage participants telling their stories in blog posts.
Viviana Bastidas December 2020 postwas by Viviana Bastidas, a PhD Student at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland, and a Lero member—the Irish Software Research Centre, Limerick, Ireland. Viviana wrote about her experience attending the “Social Networks Analysis: Theory and Practice” workshop, given by Dr Deniza Alieva and Gulnoza Usmonova. “ I would like to invite other students to participate in the next versions of ACM womENcourage. We must support each other and continue to encourage other women to develop their careers in computing. We have many opportunities to change small or big things in society, and computing helps us to find solutions to do so.”
Marjana Prifti Skenduli January 2021 post was written with passion for STEM is by Marjana Prifti Skenduli, a full-time lecturer of Computer Science and a Computer Science PhD candidate at the University of New York Tirana (UNYT). “I define myself as an enthusiastic Computer Science educator and a passionate Information Technology professional, who takes great pride in being a mother to two wonderful daughters. Perhaps I am a lucky person, for being able to combine my daily job with my passion and translate it into a bold mission: that of getting people of all ages and backgrounds excited about the immense possibilities of STEM education.” Read more from Marjana on our blog.
Each month we feature a member of the ACM-W leadership team. This month’s feature comes from Bushra Anjum, Standing Committees Co-Chair, with an interview about her involvement with Celebrating Technology Leaders, a webinar project of her own creation. Bushra is a software engineer at Amazon, San Luis Obispo and doximity, San Francisco County. Bushra was part of the inaugural inductees of ACM’s Future of Computing Academy and brings her enthusiastic spirit to bear in numerous volunteer efforts on behalf of women and girls in computing. You can learn more about Bushra’s impact at bushraanjum.info.
Thanks for standing with us as we work to fulfill our mission.
What is your vision for the new ACM-W webinar series “Celebrating Technology Leaders”?
Some of ACM-W’s most successful events and panels in the past (chapters, celebrations, etc.) were focused on career advice, especially non-academic careers (industry, research labs, government, non-profit, etc.). However, the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19 has halted such meaningful events. Furthermore, stories and survey responses from our members tell us that younger professionals want to hear from people with non-traditional career routes, moving between research labs, academia, industry, government, or non-profits. These needs became the motivating factor as I proposed a new initiative to the ACM-W global leadership, a web series “Celebrating Technology Leaders.” The idea is to bring stories and advice from engaging speakers, with diverse careers in computing, directly to our global audience. I am truly grateful that my proposal received approval and support not only from the ACM-W leadership but also from the ACM Education and Professional Development, and ACM Marketing. I would also like to acknowledge our partners CRA-WP and NCWIT, who recently came on board to help spread the word and increase the efficacy and reach of this ACM-W initiative.
It is my privilege to drive this project and serve as a host for Celebrating Technology Leaders.
What will the attendees gain by attending the Celebrating Technology Leaders sessions?
We have designed the series so students and early career professionals can expand their horizons, learn about the multitude of career options available, and make informed choices about the next step in their professional journeys. At the same time, staying true to the ACM-W mission, we aim to celebrate women in computing. Thus in each episode, I invite women in computing who have excelled in their careers for an online panel discussion. We feature panelists from all career levels in research, industry, government, and non-profits. During the one hour conversation, we highlight their journeys, share inspiring stories, and learn what it takes to succeed in their career of choice.
While choosing our panelists, we emphasize the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of the panelists so that our discussion is applicable and relatable to a wide variety of listeners. The series is geared towards students and early-career professionals, and we’re hoping to provide valuable experiences for anyone considering switching their career path in a technical direction. For example, our earliest panels have discussed the bond between academia and industry (Session 1), experiences in entrepreneurship (Session 2), opportunities in the growing world of User Experience / User Interfaces (Session 3), and most recently, the career opportunities in Data (Session 4).
Where can we find more information on Celebrating Technology Leaders, and the future sessions?
The series is free and open for public viewership. We organize one session every 6 to 8 weeks. Each session features a 45-minute discussion followed by a 15-minute interactive Q&A session. You can view our past sessions on YouTube.
Additional details can be found on our webpage. We will also be announcing our future sessions.
If you have any suggestions on topics and speakers, please do reach out to me at https://www.bushraanjum.info/contact.
Bushra Anjum, ACM-W Standing Committees Co-Chair
The pandemic has caused many small and not so small changes in everyone’s life. We know that women are being disproportionately affected by it. From Nature (Women are most affected by pandemics — lessons from past outbreaks https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02006-z) to the BBC (Why this recession disproportionately affects women https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201021-why-this-recession-disproportionately-affects-women) and the New York Times (Pandemic Will ‘Take Our Women 10 Years Back’ in the Workplace https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/26/world/covid-women-childcare-equality.html) it is clear to scientists and social media commentators alike that women are not faring well in this “shecession”, as some are calling this mostly female recession.
Particularly in Academia things are not going very well for women.
As Nature again reported in April 2020 (The pandemic and the female academic https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01135-9) someone researcher tweeted “The next person who tweets about how productive Isaac Newton was while working from home gets my three-year-old posted to them!”. But trying to laugh about it has its limitations.
We would like to point out to our readers that most of the important conferences in Computing are going ahead online and that many charge fees. Some of these fees have been reduced for online meetings, but they are not negligible. We had hoped that reduced fees would allow us in the Scholarship Committee to spread further our funds and pay for many more students to attend conferences. But given the situations described above, the women are not applying for these funds. Thus this is a heads-up and a reminder: Please apply to go to conferences!
You do not have to have a paper to present at the conference you want to attend. Attending high-quality conferences online might not be as great as visiting the places and talking face-to-face with the important researchers in the field, but it’s actually still extremely helpful, both in terms of knowing where the field is going and of making yourself known to the research comunity you’d like to be part of. Try your best to submit papers too, because writing is like exercising: the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Lastly and most importantly, please don’t post the 3-year old!
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 ACM Scholarships are made possible nowadays by the generous support of Google and Oracle. The program was started in 2013 by Elaine Weyuker and has been run without any funding interruptions since then.
The next application deadline is February 15 for conferences taking place April 1 – May 31, 2021. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hoping that you’re all safe and sound in these complicated times of covid-19 and wishing us all a happier New Year!