ACM-W Connections. June 2017

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Welcome to the June, 2017, issue of ACM-W Connections.

This month I wrap up five years as chair of ACM-W. It’s been quite a ride! ACM-W has grown tremendously during this time, and there is a lot of which I am very proud. None of it would have happened without the awesome volunteers who contribute to our activities, and the ACM staff who are there for us every step of the way. I can’t possibly list everyone, but I do want to give a “shout out” to a few people:

Jodi Tims – Jodi started as chair of the Celebrations Ctte. 5 years ago, and then became vice chair of ACM-W. She has been my right hand in all things ACM-W for 5 years, and I look forward to seeing the direction in which she takes ACM-W when she takes over as chair on July 1.

Gloria Townsend – Gloria has given an uncountable number of years to ACM-W (okay, 17 years, but that’s practically uncountable when you talk about volunteer work). The Celebrations were her brain child, she launched them, and helped secure the National Science Foundation money that supported a great increase in the number of events. Then Gloria moved on to Chapters and her efforts there have helped us quadruple the number of chapters. Gloria is retiring but I know that she will keep advocating for women in computing every chance she gets!

Yuqing Melanie Wu – five years ago Melanie suggested that our web page needed updating. Fast forward to today, Melanie has overseen two complete web site overhauls (our new site will be launching soon!) and she is responsible for monthly production of this newsletter. Now that our Communications Ctte. is well organized and our communications strategy is better developed, you can expect to see Melanie shift in the coming years to another ACM-W committee.

Adriana Compagnoni – Adriana took over the Scholarship program when I became ACM-W chair. She has done a wonderful job increasing the size of the committee, improving the reviewing process, and working with the award recipients. She has built a structure that could handle even more awards than we can currently make – if your company would like to support the scholarships, we’re happy to take more money and keep the scholarship ctte even busier!

Sheila Anand and Reyyan Ayfer – Sheila and Reyyan have run ACM-W India and ACM-W Europe respectively. They have seen to it that ACM-W’s programs are implemented in their areas, increasing the number of chapters and celebrations, as well as suggesting representatives for our committees so that we have global representation in all of the operational parts of what we do.

Additional thanks to Lissa Clayborn (Education), Beth Hawthorne and Cindy Tucker (Community Colleges), Wendy Powley (Celebrations), to all the members of the ACM-W committees, and to all the many celebration coordinators and chapter leaders who keep our programs running around the world!

Finally, the ACM staff are amazing. As our programs have grown, their support has increased apace. They provide logistical support, handle donations and payments for many of the Celebrations, created and support the scholarship application system, helped coordinate the website overhaul, provide support to our chapters, arrange shipment of swag to all ACM-W events, and answer email seemingly at all hours of the day and night. I won’t list names because I’m afraid I would leave out some people, but unquestionably the full-time ACM staff are an incredibly dedicated, wonderful group of people. Working for ACM is clearly more than just a job for them.

I won’t be going too far away once I step down from ACM-W. For the last year I have been working on development of a new ACM Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and will continue with those efforts. This will include working closely with ACM-W (Jodi and I just aren’t ready to give up our weekly phone call) as we develop more complete and expansive diversity activities for ACM.

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter which includes a final chapters note from Gloria Townsend, information from ACM-W Europe, a report on the recent Kentucky Community Colleges Celebration, and a first message from Jodi Tims as she prepares to take over chairing ACM-W. We also have announcements about the first two recipients of our new “Best Chapter Officer” contest. Lastly, undergraduates or 1st-2nd year graduate students interested in programing languages and/or software engineering should consider applying for the SPLASH 2017 Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop, being held in October, 2017.  Travel funds are available.  Keep an eye out for application instruction, available by June 23, 2017, at 

Thanks for all of your interest in and support for ACM-W!

P.S. You might note that I have sent this month’s newsletter from my new email address. I have changed jobs and am now the Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science at Mount Holyoke College. Along with many other achievements and contributions to the field, Jean had a rich ACM history, including serving as the first woman president of ACM, and was a very important contributor to conferences on the history of programming languages. Particularly relevant to me, Jean held an expansive view of the possibilities for interdisciplinary applications of computing, and I am honored to be the first person to hold the Sammet Chair.

Valerie Barr
ACM-W Chair

Letter from Jodi Tims — Incoming Chair of ACM-W

Many thoughts run through my mind as I contemplate taking over the reins as Chair of ACM-W. One of the first is that I have some REALLY BIG shoes to fill – Valerie has been doing an amazing job! But I’ve had the good fortune of working closely with her these past two years as Vice Chair, and am looking forward to the opportunity to continue and further build upon the work that she has done. I do not have sufficient words to express how fortunate I feel to have collaborated with Valerie and all of the other volunteers who make ACM-W the successful organization that it is.

All of our projects are going strong. ACM-W student chapters are popping up in all corners of the world. Celebrations events continue to increase in number and reach. Many students have benefitted from the Scholarships project and our ACM-W Europe and ACM-W India organizations are thriving. The many volunteers who contribute to these efforts have my deep appreciation and I’m looking forward to working even more closely with each and every one of you.

So what is on the horizon for ACM-W? What priorities do I have as I step into my new role? Clearly we will remain committed to all of the work that we currently do. But there is still much more that we can do to have an even greater impact for women in computing. Here are a few of my goals:

  • Continue and strengthen ACM-W’s relationship with our partner organizations including CRA-W and NCWIT. The more we can work together with these groups, the larger the impact we will realize.
  • Establish strong ACM-W Professional Chapters in several areas. In addition to providing support for professional women in computing, these chapters can connect to local ACM-W Student Chapters for mentoring, internships, shared events and more.
  • Create valuable resources that can assist our Chapters and Celebrations in areas such as web site development, event planning, and leadership development.
  • Broaden our international reach. We have just begun to have some reach to South America, Africa, and China. Establishing a strong presence for ACM-W can bring much needed support for women in computing in these regions.

One of the most exciting things about taking on this leadership role is that I know that there are many opportunities out there for ACM-W that we don’t yet realize exist. It will be my honor and pleasure to lead and advocate for the many volunteers that work hard each day to support, celebrate, and advocate for women in computing.

Letter from Gloria Townsend — ACM-W Chapters

After seventeen years working with ACM-W, I’m writing my last article. I’m proud of all the success that ACM-W has had in recruiting, retaining, and celebrating women in computing, during these seventeen years.

I thank Tracy Camp who listened to my "small regional celebrations for women in computing" concept in 2000 and invited me to join the ACM-W crew in 2000.

I thank Elaine Weyuker who funded the very first ACM Celebration (Indiana Celebration of Women in Computing or INWIC) in 2004. Today the ACM Celebrations of Women in Computing span the globe. I thank Bettina Bair and company who formed the #2 Ohio Celebration; Tracy Camp et al, the #3 Rocky Mountain Celebration; and Laurie Dillon and friends, the #4 Michigan Celebration. I thank the National Science Foundation for funding a large grant to create 12 additional celebrations – along with thanking the many women who organized the 12 conferences.

At the beginning 0f 2013, I handed the Celebrations project over to Jodi Tims and took over chairing ACM-W Chapters. There were 45 chapters in early 2013; now there are 183. I thank wonderful Paula Gabbert for her brilliant ACM-W Chapters concept and for leading the project in the early years from 2000 to 2013, because growing a project from "scratch" is always more difficult than carrying on a project that has gained momentum. I thank the ACM-W Chapters Committee for all of its excellent support: Z Sweedyk, Virginia Grande, Melanie Williamson, Ranjani Parthasarathi, Chutima Boonthum, Lindsay Jamieson, Alan Jamieson, Priya Chawla, and Shahnaz Kamberi. I send best wishes to Z, as she assumes chairship of ACM-W Chapters.

Finally, I thank Valerie Barr and Jodi Tims for their joint vision and leadership of ACM-W. Last, but by no means least, I thank my dear friend Wendy Powley (current chair of the Celebrations Project) for her work on behalf of women in computing in Canada and ACM Celebrations all over the world.

News From ACM-W Celebrations

The third ACM Regional Celebration of Women in Computing focusing on community colleges in and around Kentucky, the Kentucky Community Colleges – Women in Computing Celebration (KYCC-WiC), was held on March 30-31 in Lexington, KY.  KYCC-WIC hosted over 120 attendees from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, and Virginia. The attendees included:

  • 53% community college faculty, staff and students
  • 20% university faculty, staff, and students
  • 7% professionals and sponsors
  • 20% local high students – attendance funded by a J. P. Morgan Chase Bank grant
  • 86% were female and 14% were male 

On Thursday, the keynote speakers were Jill Denner and Erin Mindell Cannon.  Jill Denner, a senior research scientist at Education, Training, and Research (ETR), gave a talk entitled "Staying the Course: Research on Female Computing Students in Community Colleges".  Erin Mindell Cannon, Google Education Team Program Manager, shared her perspective on "Exhuming Your Grit" and how to learn from your experiences and opportunities as she told about her personal journey to Google.

On Friday, keynote Dr. Patricia Morreale, Department Chair and Professor of Computer Science at Kean University in Union, NJ, shared success stories of her computer science students, including several who transferred from community colleges. All three women brought exciting personal and research-based perspectives on the challenges and rewards for women in computing, especially in a community college setting. 

KYCC-WiC included student poster contests (community college and university levels), breakout sessions, a transfer fair, a recruitment, retention and transfer panel of experts, and presentations by community college and university students and faculty. Relaxing evening and early morning events included a simulation of the commercial Breakout Games using programming concepts, chair massages, and "Yoga at your Desk". 

If you are considering organizing a Celebration in the coming year, it is now time to register your event. ACM-W provides financial support, handles finances, hosts websites and more! For more information, contact Wendy Powley (, Chair of the Celebrations Committee.

News From ACM-W Europe

Informatics for All, Mallorca, Spain May 5 2017

In less than a year since the first spanish ACM Celebration of Women in Computing, we are very happy to announce that on 05 May 2017 we celebrated the second edition of this fantastic event, Informatics for All. It was held in Palma de Mallorca, at the Universitat de les Illes Balears. Not only the number of attendants increased since last year, but also the number of poster submissions and speaker proposals.

The event comprised four talks from female experts in different areas of expertise, a very interesting panel about the future of women in computing, and a poster session with 3 min presentations by all the poster authors followed by a coffee break in which the rest of the attendants could speak with the authors about their work.

Overall, it was a lovely day with very positive feelings, fruitful discussions, and plenty of time for networking and celebrating. The success of this event gives us even more energy to keep growing this community. We are already thinking about the next edition, and in the meanwhile, we are planning to create a female expert database to support future collaborations and interactions. For the next edition, we would love to increase the participation of men in this kind of events even more, broaden the dissemination, and include activities for young students in the event.

Ada’s Legacy celebrated in ADA University again

On 15 April, Azerbaijan ACM Chapter partnered with ADA University School of IT and Engineering again to organize the second of its now-annual celebration of women in computing named Ada’s Legacy. Despite the similarity to the university’s name, it is a pleasant nuance – the event is actually named after a 19th century mathematician, Lady Ada Lovelace, who is considered as the first programmer in the history.

“Ada’s Legacy: Celebrating Women in Computing” brought together more than 100 students, researchers and professionals from academia and industry to celebrate women in computing, as well as to promote ACM Europe Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage 2017 conference.

The guest of honor of this year’s event was Prof. Jennifer Widom, Dean of Stanford University Engineering School. Prof. Widom stayed till 17 April for the Big Data Weekend, where she run short-courses on big data, data analysis and visualization, and machine learning, as well as big data’s implications and significance in today’s fast-paced world.

After welcoming notes and appreciation of leading women in IT, who supported last year’s event, the audience watched a BBC documentary "Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing", courtesy of the Open University, UK, with Azerbaijani subtitles about the very woman the event was named after.

Following a short sandwich break, three ADA University students shared their experience at the two-day ACM womENcourage 2016 conference in Linz, Austria, and gave some tips about the scholarship opportunities to attend this year conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Most exciting and long awaited final part of the event was the panel discussion with Prof. Jennifer Widom and three local women leaders in computing, who represented industry, academia and government sector.

The event was featured in major news program at the national TV and the 74% of participants rated it as excellent in a post-event survey.

Prof. Widom`s blog post about the event:


  • womENcourage 2017
    We are excited about our line up of workshops that will take place just three months from today! We will have HACKATHON is on the September 6, 2017, and 5 workshops on September 7. Check out the abstracts on the website.

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