ACM-W Connections. December 2015

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Welcome to the December, 2015, issue of ACM-W Connections.  We’ve got lots of news from ACM-W Europe and  report from ACM-W India about the Grace Hopper India conference.  I hope you enjoy reading about all of these activities.

News from Networking Networking Women

We wanted to share this news from N2W (Networking Networking Women.

We are very excited to announce the inaugural list of "10 women in networking/communications that you should know”. Over 150 people around the world submitted nominations for this list, and many of these people submitted several names. These nominations created a very impressive list of approximately 140 women in the networking/communications fields. The women nominated amaze us and inspire us. It was quite hard to only choose 10 …  

The "10 women in networking/communications that you should know” list will be an annual list. For this 1st list, we decided to focus on the most senior women in our field, all of whom have had a major impact in networking and/or communications. We also wanted a list that represented our diversity, e.g., diversity in the area of networking/communications and, thus, chose the list accordingly.   For 2015, in alphabetical order (by first name), here are 10 women in networking/communications that you should know!      

  • Andrea Goldsmith    
  • Anja Feldmann         
  • Deborah Estrin         
  • Jennifer Rexford      
  • Klara Nahrstedt       
  • Lixia Zhang   
  • Muriel Medard         
  • Polina Bayvel            
  • Radia Perlman          
  • Sally Floyd 

Details on these amazing women, as well as quotes from one of the many people who nominated these women, are available at:

Where’s ACM-W This Month?

As I’m writing this, I’ve just left Oxford University which hosted the Ada Lovelace Symposium on December 9 & 10.  It was a wonderful event with a great mix of literary scholars, historians, mathematicians, and computer scientists.  The livestream is available at and I absolutely recommend that you watch it.  As a computer scientist, I was humbled by the extent of research the scholars from the humanities disciplines have done.  They have faced a significant big data problem, reading letters and diaries from multiple people that spanned decades, drawing connections between them, using calendars and newspapers to confirm and clarify details.  This work is fascinating, and it was great fun to see a few of the original documents on display at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. 

We’re also very excited about the first Canada-wide ACM-W celebration, coming up later in January.  If you are interested in more information, head to

Thanks for your interest in ACM-W, and thanks for supporting women in computing!

~Valerie Barr, ACM-W Chair

News From ACM-W Chapters

Barb Ericson at Georgia Tech,  ACM-W’s friend, started "Project Rise Up 4 CS" 4 years ago to help more African-American students pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam. The number of African-Americans passing the exam in Georgia has been increasing since the project began. Last year Barb started "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" to help more women pass the AP CS A exam. "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" offers help sessions led by undergraduate students.  There are two types of help sessions:  twice-a-week one-hour webinars and once-a-month, three-hour in-person sessions at a local college or university.  The undergraduate students serve as near-peer role models to help increase the participants’ sense of belonging in computing.  The webinars are intended to encourage practice and address misconceptions.  The in-person help sessions allow students to feel that they belong at their local college or university in computer science.

Barb wants to expand "Sisters Rise Up 4 CS" to more colleges and universities.  The project provides a perfect ACM-W Chapters outreach project opportunity.  Barb created a free e-book to help both the undergraduate students lead the webinars as well as the high school students prepare for the Java-based AP exam.

News From ACM-W India

Report of GHC India 2015

 More than 2,000 women technologists convened in Bangalore for the sixth annual Grace Hopper Celebration India, the largest gathering of women in technology in the country. This year’s conference theme was #OurTimeToLead.

Following opening remarks from Telle Whitney, President and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) and Geetha Kannan, Managing Director of ABI India, Kimberly Stevenson, Vice President and CIO at Intel delivered the day’s first keynote address. Her talk centered on the concept of the butterfly effect, which suggests that small actions can make a big difference, especially in the technology industry.

Kimberly highlighted the fact that women are the primary consumers — and increasingly, the creators — of today’s most innovative technologies. With this in mind, she underscored how important it is to continue the momentum that has attracted so many talented female technologists from India into the technology market.

The CXO panel touched upon Innovation, Inclusion, Internet @ India 2.0 – Where Are We Headed, moderated by Tata Sons CTO Gopichand Katragadda. The panelists included Rekha Menon, Chairman of Accenture India, Sandhya Vasudevan, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at Deutsche Bank Group in India, Dinesh Malkani, President of Cisco India and SAARC and Dr. Manish Gupta, Vice President of Xerox Corporation and Director of the Xerox Research Center in India.

The panelists discussed how the seemingly disparate issues of innovation, inclusion and the Internet come together to create India’s technology landscape today. One of the main takeaways from the panel discussion highlighted the importance of innovating for an educated, well-informed audience of Indian consumers. To succeed, the panelists agreed, companies both big and small must think about disruption.

On the second day the attendees dove into technical topics, covering issues like data science and machine learning, emerging technologies, innovations born in India and systems engineering. It was also the first day of the student career fair, and the final round of the Tech For Good Hackathon. Again, the sessions captured how India’s female technologist population can embrace the theme of #OurTimeToLead, learn from their peers and pass on their knowledge to the next generation.

The final day of the Grace Hopper Celebration India (GHCI), held in Bangalore, offered attendees a wide variety of sessions touching on topics ranging from early career advice, entrepreneurship, management and leadership skills, soft skills and how to get back to work in the booming Indian technology industry.

GHCI’s 2,000+ attendees could choose between panels discussing using LinkedIn to build your professional brand, mastering the art of the startup pitch, tackling the ever-present imposter syndrome and exploring the dichotomy that exists for female leaders.

The day concluded with the 2015 Women Entrepreneur Quest, a business plan contest designed to encourage, showcase and recognize tech startups founded and managed by female entrepreneurs.

ACM India sponsored around 40 members to GHCI 15. An ACM Student chapter meeting was organized which was also attended by the Professional members participating in the conference.  Many issues were discussed which included the benefits of opening a ACM-W chapter; the need and modalities of organizing conferences for women; encourage active participation from women both professional and student members. The Hour of Code initiative was also discussed.

News From ACM-W Europe


ACM-W Europe is now partners with IE-WIRE, Informatics Europe’s Women in Informatics Research and Education Working Group. Going forward the two entities will endorse, promote and participate in each other’s events, and collaborate on projects related to women in computing. We are very excited about our new friends, and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership!

Edinburgh University Celebrates 10th Anniversary of “Hoppers” Women in Computing Group

On December 5th, the Edinburgh University “Hoppers” group held a celebration of its 10th anniversary. Established in September 2005 to provide a peer-support network for female students in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, the group has managed to thrive despite the constantly changing constituency of members.  The group is run entirely by the students, for the students, and we believe that Edinburgh University Hoppers is one of the oldest student-run societies for women in computing.<

Over the years Hoppers has created a sense of community, particularly among the undergraduate women in Informatics, who represent approximately 17% of the total cohort. Most of the group’s events are focused on skill-development, and coding nights are always popular.  However, the ultimate goal is to cultivate an open community with the aim to provide a supportive and inclusive society where people are comfortable and build both technical and networking skills to thrive in the tech environment.   Moreover each year the society elects a small committee of “presidents” who develop further skills in fundraising, event planning and financial management.

One speaker stressed the impact that the existence of strong role models can have in encouraging more women into the discipline, and exhorted all present to be conscious of their own potential to be role models for the next generation.  The final talk at the event was given by Kate Ho, who as an undergraduate in 2005 was one of the instigators for the formation of the Hoppers group.  With a portfolio career that has included completing a PhD, starting a successful start-up, and now working on the digital interface to the Scottish Government, Kate has a broad perspective.  She spoke about the importance of community and networking, from a technical point of view, and more broadly.  She pointed out that we are fortunate in Edinburgh to have a thriving tech community with many tech meetups on offer every week, but spoke with understanding about how intimidating these can be particularly for novice, female programmers.  Nevertheless she encouraged everyone to get involved in multiple communities, including Hoppers, to expand their network and their skills.

Despite the wild and windy weather, approximately 50 participates joined the celebrations on 5th December.  The event brought together old and new Hoppers, undergrads, postgrads, staff and alumnae, including presidents spanning the past 10 years.   Role models have always played an important part in Hoppers activities, and this event was no exception.  The afternoon started with a series of short talks from researchers and alumnae. Guest speaker Katia Shutova–a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge–discussed her research in natural language processing, in particular computational modelling of metaphor, giving interesting insights into how we can be subliminally influenced by the metaphors that politicians use, and describing a system to automatically paraphrase into more neutral language.  Jane Hillston, from the School of Informatics, discussed her path to computer science and the female role models who supported and influenced her.

Further activities in the afternoon included a panel session, allowing the audience to pose questions to women at different stages of their careers, both within industry and academia.  Topics raised included how to widen the pipeline to get more female students into the discipline, facilitating transfer into the community for women who perhaps initially completed a degree in a different discipline and how to overcome the “guild” mentality, which can be particularly off-putting for women who are lacking confidence in their technical abilities.

The speed networking session that followed quickly overcame the students’ initial shyness and the room was soon buzzing with lively conversation, further facilitated by drinks and canapés.  As a momento of the occasion, participants were encouraged to visit our photo booth where they could have their picture taken with a life-sized iconic picture of Grace Hopper.

Like all Hopper events, this was run by the students, for the students, with minimal support from the staff in the School of Informatics.   Nevertheless a few of the female staff came along to share in the fun and it was a pleasure to see the joy and excitement that these young women have in their chosen field of study.  The value that they derive from the group is evident from the fact that it has kept going for over ten years.  Given the enthusiasm and passion of the current female cohort, it will keep going for at least another 10 years.


  • Save the Date: womENcourage 2016 Celebration of Women in Computing, September 12-13, 2016

    Ten months from now we will be celebrating at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. womENcourage 2016 dates have been announced. On September 12 a lively Career Fair will kick off the celebration, on the 13th we will have keynotes, panels, and a poster session. More information will be forthcoming after the first of the year.

  • Apply to Attend the Heidelberg Forum
    The Heidelberg Laureate Forum was created by the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies, ACM, and Letters to provide an opportunity for young researchers to spend a week with winners of the Turing Award, Abel Prize, Nevanlinna Prize, and Fields Medal. To date three forums have been held (2013, 2014, and 2015), and all have been viewed as a major success by the 40 laureates and 200 young researchers in computer science and mathematics who attended each forum. Details can be found at

    The Fourth Heidelberg Laureate Forum will be held September 18-23, 2016.
    To be considered for the Heidelberg Forum, young researchers can either apply directly to the International Mathematical Union, and the Norwegian Academy of Science ( or be nominated by a colleague (or professor, mentor or manager) who can attest to the quality of their work. Nominations will likely carry a bit more weight within the selection process and can be made at but require ACM-specific credentials. If you or a colleague would like to make a nomination, the ACM “Organization Number” is ACM72967. Applications and nominations must be completed by February 3, 2016.

  • Research Data Science Summer School, Trieste Italy August 1-12, 2016
    Apply now to attend the Research Data Science Summer School in Trieste, Italy, August 1-12, 2016 apply by April 18 (CODATA-RDA) Students will learn software carpentry, data carpentry, digital curation and stewardship skills, and more. Apply here.
  • Would you like to contribute an article to the ACM-W Newsletter?
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