Welcome from the ACM-W Chair – April 2021

by Jodi Tims, ACM-W Chair

“There is no such thing as a free lunch” – or so the saying goes.  In spring of 2012, I accepted the invitation of Gloria Townsend, then ACM-W Celebrations Chair, to attend an ACM-W luncheon at the close of the SIGCSE Technical Symposium.  Prior to this time, my knowledge of ACM-W was focused primarily on the Celebrations project as I had been serving in various positions on the organizing committee of the Ohio Celebration (OCWiC).  Little did I realize, I would walk out of the luncheon that day having agreed to take on the role of Celebrations Chair as Gloria transitioned to the role of Chapters Chair.  Over the next few years, we saw rapid global growth in both of these projects.  In subsequent years, I served as ACM-W Vice Chair and worked alongside Valerie Barr, then ACM-W Chair, learning the ins and outs of leading a global women-in-computing organization through the inspiring example that Valerie set.  As I assumed the role of ACM-W Chair, I was humbled to have the honor and privilege to work alongside many capable members of our leadership team that are the heart and soul of ACM-W.  As I reflect back over my involvement with this organization, I can honestly say that that lunch in 2012 turned out not to be free, but the efforts I have invested in ACM-W have led me on a truly amazing journey that I will be forever grateful to have taken.

ACM-W Committee Volunteer Opportunities

If you have a passion for supporting, celebrating and advocating for women in computing, I invite you to consider joining the ACM-W Leadership Team.  We are currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers to fill two vacant positions:

  • Standing Committees Co-Chair – this role oversees ACM-W’s standing committees of Professional Chapters, Scholarships, and the Rising Star Award Committee. In addition, standing committees chairs determine the creation of new standing committees or ad hoc committees that are formed to address shorter term efforts.
  • Treasurer Co-Chair – this role oversees the operating budget of ACM-W and works with the ACM-W Chair to develop strategies for fundraising and philanthropic activity on behalf of the organization.

The selected applicants will serve a two-year term of office beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2023.  Leadership terms can be extended for one additional term depending upon the approval of the ACM-W Chair.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, https://forms.gle/K9LpCzAGbUeKswkk6, and will be accepted until May 20, 2021.  Individuals may self-nominate.  We ask that nominations on behalf of others be made only if the individual is willing to accept the nomination.

Thanks for standing with us as we work to fulfill our mission.

ACM-W Scholarships Looking Forward

by Viviana Bono (chair of the ACM-W scholarship programme)

The pandemic is not over and we are all subject to its consequences. Travelling is still a dream these days. Who could foresee that the world would look so big again, after decades of having almost all corners of Earth within reach in a few hours. For us working in Science and Technology it means also missing many opportunities to attend conferences in person and make those human connections leading to strong collaborations, sometimes life-long ones, that make our jobs much better. We, the ACM-W committee, feel sorry especially for those female students who are at the beginning or in the middle of their PhD, when attending a conference can be a true life-changer. 

Scholarship Awarded – Congratulations Yulia Goldenberg!

In the past two cycles, December 2020 and February 2021, we had, respectively, zero and two applications. However, we were at least able to assign a scholarship to Yulia Goldenberg, a PhD student from the Department of Software & Information Systems of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, to attend CHI 2021. This is going to be yet another virtual event. Nevertheless we hope it can be a good experience and a great opportunity for Yulia, to whom we wish all the best for her future in CS.

Scholarship Committee Volunteer Needed

I’d like to take the chance to advertise a new position in our committee: we need someone dynamic and enthusiastic, interested to be our PR and work with Valeria de Paiva and myself on the newsletter and other communication initiatives, as we strongly hope to move into a better future. Please feel free to contact me directly (Viviana Bono, viviana.bono@unito.it).

Apply for a Scholarship!

Last but not least: the next deadline to apply for a scholarship is June 15. Refer to this page for detailed information.

Report on ACM W India Pune Professional Chapter Virtual Regional Celebration

A virtual ACM W regional celebration India was organised by ACM W Pune Professional chapter in association with Pimpri Chinchwad College of Engineering on 3rd March 2021

The event started with the welcoming of all the dignitaries and the participants. 

To begin the event well, we paid our respects to Goddess Saraswati with the Saraswati Vandana. Then, we had Prof. Rahul Patil, SDW coordinator to address the event. After that, our mentor Dr. K. Rajeswari, HoD, Computer Dept., PCCoE, and Vice-Chair of ACM-W PCCoE guided us and motivated us towards entrepreneurship and all the opportunities that are provided to develop ourselves. Then we had Dr N. B. Chopde, Director, PCCoE to address us further.

At the end, Dr. Heena Timani, ACM-W India Council Chair and Director of iananyadatalytix , Pvt Ltd. guided us about the ACM-W Chapter and the importance of entrepreneurship.

We had Ms. Maggie Inbamuthiah as the Keynote Speaker for the event. She gave a brief description of her career and shared her thoughts and experiences in her journey of entrepreneurship. She introduced us to the attributes needed to be developed to be a successful entrepreneur. She explained how yoga can be helpful in managing various problems on our own. She made us aware of the importance of equity and inclusion with the help of various examples.

The seminar concluded with a Q & A session in which she answered questions regarding some life lessons about choosing the way we lead our life, managing fear, etc.

Ms. Nikita Gandhi gave a Technical Talk on Flutter. Firstly, she introduced us to the basics of Flutter and Dart.  She explained the difference between Dart and the other programming languages. Then moving towards the concepts in detail, she explained how to add an image , how to add basic widgets and other components in order to make an app. She gave a complete roadmap that should be followed to become a skilled Flutter developer. 

She also gave insights about the events that 

Google plans for the Flutter community. At the end she shared resources to explore and excel in Flutter. 

Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali gave a talk on her startup “Dental Dost”. She explained how their team found out various problems regarding dental health and its treatment. They tried to solve these problems and the solutions that they have built up are very useful. She gave a brief idea about this startup and motivated us to work towards solving such problems and how to take proper decisions. Along with this, she also explained about the technologies that they have used in this startup (for eg. flutter).This gave students great insights about how technology can be used in the medical field.

Mrs. Sarika Panhalkar had an Open interaction on Women Entrepreneurship. She gave a brief description of her career journey and Tarpan Foundation. She guided students by  sharing her personal experiences. She inspired students to explore innovative ideas and gave valuable tips to work towards them.

Then moving forward, she introduced different government schemes which are available for the startups that are led by women entrepreneurs.

Seminar concluded with a Q & A session in which she highlighted an important point, “Believe In Yourself And Always Keep Learning”.

An interactive session by Dr. K. Rajeswari and Ms. Prajakta Joshi began with the self-introduction of Prajakta Joshi. She gave a brief description of her career journey as an academician and then as an entrepreneur. She shared about the hurdles that she faced during her transition from academician to entrepreneur. 

Further, the session took an interesting turn when Dr. K. Rajeswari started an entrepreneurial conservation with Mrs. Prajakta Joshi.

This conversation led to various important points such as the importance of networking, time management, being ready for challenges, every day is a new learning, SWOT analysis, etc.

“It’s never too late to start a new thing” is a valuable advice given by Ms. Prajakta Joshi from her personal experience. Seminar concluded with an engaging Q&A session.

The Valedictory ceremony   started with the prize distribution, where the winners for the Blog writing competition and the poster making competition were announced. Then the winners shared their experiences of the competition. 

Carrying forward the session and to make it more interactive and lively, attendees were asked to express their views on the seminars conducted on ACM-W Regional Event day. The Regional Celebration concluded with amazing feedback by attendees. 

Report on ACM W Winter School for Women on Natural Language Processing

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/ldeYenfRQ0x84lfABRLkiJTMRnUrMIpdUuepWNK4Iov95HQPx9xdmYRxGioMU9uPGT5E7NALvFTf10HkTeKMkwUYO5o7pAK2YltLJjPsCudGDs9Gbu7HVocYdg40cXNcZ9a9MPrj

DA-IICT with ACM-W hosted an ACM Winter School on Natural Language Processing during 4 January to 14 January 2021. The 10 days’ winter school was coordinated by Dr. Prasenjit Majumder and had 47 women undergraduate and postgraduate students as participants. Following the norms, it was an online school held via Zoom, a web-based video conferencing tool.

Professors engaged in the research in the NLP domain came forward to share their ideas and conduct sessions. Day 1 started with an introduction of Natural Language Processing, given by Prof. Prasenjit Majumder from DA-IICT, the session continued with Prof. Tathagata Bandyopadhyay from IIMA, demonstrating the requirement of Mathematics in NLP.

On days 2 and 3, Prof. Tanmoy Chakraborty from IIITD, explained Language Modelling and Parsing concepts. Day 4 began with Prof. Mandar Mitra, from ISI Kolkata revealing the notions about Information Retrieval and ended with Prof. Suman Mitra, from DA-IICT describing the role of Word Embeddings.

Machine Translation sessions were taken by Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharyya, from IITB on days 5 and 7. Prof. Prasenjit Majumder discussed the topic of Social Media Analysis. Prof. Sriparna Saha from IIT Patna conducted the session on Information Extraction and Dialogue Management on days 6 and 8. On Day 9, Dr. Parth Mehta discussed Text Summarization.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/BkrhDTGDS9GGeZxX-iSw2jiGyXG9Ll7svWMuG_Qe4a_h298jelcaIG0kiaf9mtBbsIUCY6MA3dmtgrcV5cSaI7VkWyGeXcByNU87mLIRaj_4-4uqibgmolrqtt3HqQIixt8u21kd


Apart from the theoretical discussions, each day had a hands-on session on the topic that had been discussed in the school. Participants were provided with materials as well as with the assignments that they had to submit. Day 10, was wrapped up with three projects and a short quiz. The projects and assignments were given to the participants to demonstrate the application of NLP and to give them in-depth clarity about the theoretical aspects that they had learned in the school.

NYCWiC-Virtual Celebration

The New York Celebration of Women in Computing 2021 (NYCWiC’21) was held virtually on April 9-10, 2021. Organizers used a combination of real-time interaction through Gather, Zoom, and Slack. Over 200 students, faculty and industry representatives registered for this conference which included welcome remarks from Lt. Governor Hochul, a poster session & career fair, research talks, workshops and community events. After a year of zoom calls, the organizers wanted to give attendees a space to rest their eyes and brains and offered sessions on well-being in the pandemic, yoga, and a maker event with 3D printed spinner rings and paper airplanes.

Boxes of goodies includes snacks for the poster session, late night game night, and coffee talk and sponsor swag, plus the maker event materials were sent ahead of time and attendees were told not to open until NYCWiC. We did a community un-boxing which many people found delightful and quite fun.

Keynote speaker Doris Conti, Vice President, IBM Public Cloud Release Manager, spoke about her journey and gave recommendations to attendees on how to succeed. One tip was to find your “girl gang” which prompted one attendee to create a GroupMe for whoever wanted to join and many of the attendees joined immediately so they could carry through the support of the group beyond the conference.

Keynote session with Doris Conti

We held a question and answer session with Jen Oneal, Executive Vice President, Development, Blizzard Entertainment. ACM-W Chair Jodi Tims joined us for the session and led an informative and interesting discussion about Jen’s non-traditional path through game development.

Networking session

The conference utilized a platform called Gather.town. UAlbany student Andy Xu built a multi-room world with rooms named after famous women in computing, a video arcade, and a beach. The platform is proximity-based, so as avatars got closer, they could see and hear each other, much like in a “real life” setting. It also utilized zoom so when you entered certain rooms, it would take you into a zoom session for the actual presentations. The career fair, networking and poster session were held entirely in Gather with small group discussions and easy navigation from one booth or table to another.

Career Fair booth of sponsor Vicarious Visions

Slack was also used to facilitate discussions, submit raffle tickets, share slides, and cultivate a sense of community. The Slack space will stay open.

With all the technology underlying the event, a class of 40 UAlbany interns assisted the organizers by working at an info booth, managing Slack, sharing information and being Zoom captains. Savanah Crouch, graduate student from the MS in Information Science program at UAlbany managed the extensive raffle with prizes provided by sponsor SUSE. Conference organizations included Jennifer Goodall, University at Albany, Conference General Chair; Caroline Buinicky, Emma Willard School, Program Chair; Chris McEvoy, Velan Studios, Registration Chair; Pablo Rivas, Baylor University, Budget & Sponsorship Chair; Catherine Parker, University at Albany and Cynthia Worrad, Career Fair Co-Chairs; and Michael Leczinsky, University at Albany, Technical Chair. Marketing and promotion support offered by Quinn Miller, Velan Studios.

Help desk staffed by interns

The team is planning to offer an in-person NYCWiC in April 2022 at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George, NY.