Year in Review from ACM-W Chair – December 2023

ACM-W Chair Ruth Lennon

It is great to look back on the year to see just how far we have come. This year, new people joined our groups, working groups, and standing committees. The ACM-W has worked to put structures around their work to enable ease of onboarding for new team members. While this work continues, the teams of volunteers across our regions have worked together to present opportunities, talks, scholarships, and networking. The highlights for me each month are presented below, but I am most proud of the joint anniversary celebration of the two ACM-W regions, ACM-W Europe and ACM-W India. The growth of the ACM-W into regions such as Africa and South America is gaining momentum, and I look forward to the day they can celebrate their 10th anniversary.

January was a time to consider new beginnings with a series of videos created by the Ohio State University Student Chapter of the ACM-W. The series helped guide ACM-W Student chapters on creating and growing a chapter using tried and tested techniques.

February invited chapters to become chapter Buddies to strengthen partnerships between chapters to support a common goal. The project encourages collaboration across student chapters, professional chapters, and between chapters in different regions. Chapters can work on a number of activities during the year to share ideas and experiences.

March brought a celebration of technology leaders where experts in various fields share their wisdom to benefit the ACM-W community. In Celebrating Technology Leaders, our Standing Committees chair, Dr Bushra Anjum, invites experts in a variety of fields to share their wisdom for the benefit of the ACM-W community.

We have many Celebrations of Women in Computing held each year, and also, in March, The Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing (OCWIC) boasted 235 attendees from 43 universities and tech companies!

Dr. Manya Ghobadi was announced at the 2023 ACM-W Rising Star in April. Dr. Ghobadi, an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spoke of her strong passion for technology driven by the potential of using computation to make a positive impact on society. The impact of awards and scholarships was made ever more clear in this wonderful piece by Dr. Adriana Wilde on how the ACM-W Scholarship helped her attend an event, opening new opportunities for her career.

May put a spotlight on the Trondheim ACM-W Professional Chapter. The work of professional chapters often brings benefits not only to the professionals involved but also to ACM-W student chapters in the area. The Trondheim Chapter connects with students through various projects led by Dr. Jaccheri as well as the recent ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourageTM 2023.

June was a time for change as the ACM-W Communications Co-Chair Bettina Bair stepped down but never far from the ACM-W. Bettina revolutionised how we reach out to our members. In her farewell interview, she shows how much fun it can be to work with a motivated team on a common goal. Opportunities often arise within our committees, including in the ACM-W regional committees.

The first Indo-European ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: A Decade Celebration was held in July. The collaboration of the two regions showcased experts across their regions, highlighting commonality, and overall, it was a major success in the ACM-W professional network. These collaborations boost the Buddy Project, showing how it can be done at a global level. Well done to Heena, Rukiye, and all involved!

The theme of womENcourage (computing connects everyone) was depicted in a lovely image showing students in intense discussion at a poster session.

August provided an opportunity to consider how computing connects everyone as the womENcourageTM 2023 finalised its preparations. womENcourage exemplifies the positive effect of attending and presenting at an event in a supportive environment. Celebrations of Women in Computing aim to forge links between attendees so that links endure when the event is long over. Building our professional networks brings opportunities that we cannot begin to imagine.

September was a time to hear from our first student chapter buddies. The ACM Bilkent Student Chapter at Bilkent University became buddies with the ATU ACM-W Student Chapter in Ireland. It is amazing that strong links can be established across time zones from one chapter in Ireland to another, 4,297 Km away in Turkiye. The Bilkent Student chapter, established in 2004, is the first ACM-W student Chapter in Turkey, and the ATU ACM-W student chapter (2014) is the first in Ireland. We look forward to many great activities from our first Chapter Buddies!

October provided an opportunity to explore the value of applying for ACM-W scholarships and how they can be used to further your career goals. The scholarship history project team reached out to past recipients to find out where they are now and if they had benefitted from the award. A lovely statement by a recipient highlights the value of scholarships. “Receiving the ACM-W scholarship gave me validation of my abilities at a time when I was not receiving very much from my graduate program.” Remember that scholarships are open for applications. All dates can be found on the ACM-W scholarships page. We look forward to receiving your applications.

Activities in Mexico were the focus of November. The ACM-W North America supported two speakers at a conference that welcomed 40 women from international universities. Congratulations to Dr. Aldeco and Dr. Mirna Muñoz on your talks.  We also encourage you to look at the latest report from the Standing Committee for Gender Equality in Science.

As you read this newsletter, you can see that more activities are ongoing. Perhaps in the seasonal break, you may find time to look at new opportunities within the ACM-W. Have you considered applying for senior membership? We would love to see more women applying. The ACM-W is here to support, celebrate, and advocate for you.

I wish you all a peaceful and supportive year ahead.

Ruth G. Lennon

ACM-W Chair

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