ACM-W Connections–December 2019

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

As we come to the end of this calendar year, I invite you to take a look back at the work of ACM-W over the 2018-2019 academic year.  For the first time, ACM-W has published an Annual Report that highlights all of the programs, partnerships, and activities of our organization.  Pulling this report together allowed us to reflect on the many ways in which students and professional women are impacted by the tireless efforts of our volunteers worldwide.  You can find the report at https://women.acm.org/acm-w-annual-report-2018-2019.  Please feel free to share the report liberally as we celebrate together the work of ACM-W.

In last month’s Connections, I shared a bit about the Gender Gap conference that was held in Trieste, Italy in November.  While we were there, we had the honor and privilege to meet Irene Beebwa, a master’s student from the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania.  Irene has a real passion and enthusiasm for promoting computing to women and girls.  Included this month is a report from Irene that highlights the many ways in which she is helping to reduce the gender gap in her country.  Enjoy!

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

Jodi Tims
ACM-W Chair

Ruth Lennon is the new ACM-W Europe Chair

Congratulations to Ruth Lennon, who has been elected the new ACM-W Europe Chair. Ruth is an enterprise application developer, researcher, and lecturer in the Department of Computing in Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Natasa Milic-Frayling for her leadership, who will continue to work with ACM-W Europe as Past Chair. 

Thank you, Oracle!

ACM-W sends a sincere “Thank you!” to Oracle for its generous $20,000 donation in support of our scholarships program.  By continuing to invest in ACM-W Scholarships, Oracle’s gift will enable 18 domestic and 8 international undergraduate and/or graduate students to participate in technical research conferences that they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend.  We will highlight the experiences of these Oracle Scholars in future editions of Connections.

Reminder: Applications for International Grad Cohort program are open!

For the past three years, ACM-W has been sponsoring teams of 2-3 people from countries outside of North America to attend the CRA-WP Grad Cohort workshop for women in hopes that this successful program replicates in areas around the world.  To date, events have been held in Greece, India, Ireland and Spain.  Additional events are being planned in Kuwait, the Philippines, and Turkey.  This year’s Grad Cohort workshop will be held April 16-18, 2020 in New Orleans, LA. We invite applications to attend now through January 15, 2020.  You can find the form to apply at https://bit.ly/34WQvaK

Other ACM-W News

  • We welcome this month five new student chapters:
    • University of Hawaii at Manoa
    • University of Washington Bothell
    • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    • Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering
    • Boston University
  • The next deadline for the Scholarships Program is December 15th.  See the Scholarships report for more details.
  • The ACM-W North America Committee contributes it inaugural report.
  • ACM-W Europe reports on the first conference on the Advances in Computational Biology (AdvCOmpBio 2019)

Digital Inclusion for Young Women and Girls in Tanzania

By Irene Evarist Beebwa
Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), P.O.Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania
Email: irenebeebwa@gmail.com/beebwai@nm-aist.ac.tz

1.0 Introduction

In this digital era, women participation and empowerment in Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) is vital and can contribute to global social-economic development. However, a gap still exists between women and men in ICTs especially in developing countries. For instance, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reports that the proportional of women who have   access and use internet in Africa is a quarter less than that of men (AfriSIG, 2019).

Additionally, African school on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) reported that low digital literacy and confidence are some of the major barriers that hinders digital inclusion on gender (AfriSIG, 2019). It is against this background that Irene Evarist Beebwa who is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Information and Communication Science and Engineering is participating in various activities in order to enhance the digital inclusion for girls and young women in Tanzania.

As a Master’s Degree Student at NM-AIST, Irene has been actively involved in various outreach programs including Soapbox Science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) promotional events organized mainly by NM-AIST.

2.0 Objectives  

  • To encourage Tanzanian girls and young women to take up studies and ​career in ICTs
  • To reduce the gap in gender digital divide
  • To contribute to sustainability of STEM outreach programs through capacity building of STEM ambassadors

3.0 Activities

3.1 About Soap Box Science

This is a platform that promotes Women in Science (WiS) and the science they do through inspirational talks in public events. Public events are conducted as a platform for girls and women to learn through questions and interactions. Irene participates in public events in Tanzania to inspire other young girls from the Science she is doing.

Irene Interacting with Secondary School girls and young women on digital inclusion during NaneNane event on August, 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania.

3.2 Promoting STEM to Young Girls in Primary and Secondary Schools

Apart from inspirational talks, Irene Beebwa also participates as a volunteer in capacity building of Students and Teachers from various Secondary Schools in Tanzania on basic ICT applications and good practice of Internet usage.

Irene talking to Secondary School girls in Meru-Arusha, Tanzania on why they should venture into ICT related career and steps to start their ICT journey
The Voice secondary school students unable to hide their curiosity on new and emerging technologies during a session with Irene
Inspiring Secondary School young girls from Arusha, Tanzania on why they should choose to study ICT

4.0 Achievements So Far

Based on the activities carried out so far the following have been the achievements scored:

  • Confidence building  amongst young women and  girls  to take up studies and ​careers in ICTs
  • Creating awareness on emerging technologies and the use of ICTs among young girls
  • Role model to young girls in STEM

Reference

AfriSIG. (2019). African women face widening technology gap. Retrieved from https://www.apc.org/en/news/african-women-face-widening-technology-gap

News from ACM-W Student Chapters

We are delighted to welcome the following new Student Chapters to ACM-W:

  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Washington Bothell
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering
  • Boston University

News from ACM-W Europe

Advances in Computational Biology (AdvCompBio 2019), Barcelona

The first conference on the Advances in Computational Biology (AdvCompBio 2019) was held in Barcelona, November 28 – 29, 2019,  to promote and increase the visibility of the research carried out by women in bioinformatics. The conference was organised by the Bioinfo4Women programme at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS) with the collaboration of IMIM-UPF Research Programme on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB), the Spanish National Bioinformatics Institute (INB/ELIXIR-ES) and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). ACM-W Europe co-organised a panel with the ISCB Regional Student Group Spain (RSG-Spain) to discuss the “Challenges of Artificial Intelligence in Biomedical Research”.  Read more.

Ruth Lennon is the new ACM-W Europe Chair

Congratulations to Ruth Lennon, who has been elected the new ACM-W Europe Chair. Ruth is an enterprise application developer, researcher, and lecturer in the Department of Computing in Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Natasa Milic-Frayling for her leadership, who will continue to work with ACM-W Europe as Past Chair.

For more news from Europe, visit the ACM-W Europe December Newsletter https://acmweurope.acm.org/newsletter-december-2019/

Greetings from the ACM-W North America Committee Chair

The newly formed ACM-W North America committee is up and running! We are currently working on establishing roles and responsibilities as well as the important task of identifying the goals we will be working towards over the next two years in our region. North America covers a very large territory beyond the United States, including Mexico, Canada, U.S. Territories, Belize, Costa Rica, and many more.

Ellen Pao once said that “We need to understand that if we all work on inclusion together, it’s going to be faster, broader, better, and more thorough than anything we can do on our own.” On that note, we are currently looking for volunteers who might be interested in moving the ACM-W mission forward in North America. We are particularly interested in ensuring that women and male advocates outside of the United States are included in our work towards change. If you have a bit of time and a passion for supporting, celebrating, and advocating for women in computing, please reach out to me at acm-w-na@volunteer.acm.org.

Warm wishes to you and your families as 2019 comes to an end. 

Monica McGill
ACM-W North America Committee Chair

News from ACM-W Scholarships

The ACM 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 at 6 occasions each year, to distribute awards across a range of conferences, with usually 3-6 awards given for each group of applications. The ACM Scholarships are made possible due to the generous support of Microsoft, Google and Oracle.

If the award is for attendance at one of the ACM special interest group conferences (SIG conferences), the SIG will most likely provide complimentary conference registration and a mentor during the conference. The number of free registrations available varies from SIG to SIG. ACM-W has helped students attend a wide range of meetings including SIGGRAPH, SIGCHI, Women in Cyber Security, ACM EC, SIGCSE, IEEE Conferences, DIS, IPDPS, ICCC, ACM CHI, AAMAS, FLAIRS, WIMS, CSCW, GECCO, ICAPS, and ICSE, amongst others.

The scholarship exposes students to prominent researchers in their field, introduces students to new research, and excites them about doing research by themselves. We ask students to share with us some of their thoughts on the conference they attend, preferably with a picture, so that we can show our readers and funders the diversity of our winners.

This month we are proud to report that we finally finish putting up online all the award winners reports for 2019, so far (December decisions are still pending). YAY!!!

Check them out at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2019 !

Making sure that our website works well for our readers, our funders, our award candidates and committee members is a big goal for us. As usual we welcome any feedback you may have on the program and/or the website. Just write to us!

Looking at the data from the year so far, we see we had 26 award winners out of 120 applicants. Out of these 15 awards were given to very promising undergraduates. From the 11 post-graduate awards, 5 went to Master’s students and 6 to doctoral students.

But we also wondered what do our readers think of the reports now online.

  • Do you like some more than others? Why? What makes an excellent report?
  • Which reports make you feel our scholarship is working?
  • Which reports would you like to see more of?
  • Would you like to vote on the best reports?
  • Would you like to give us more feedback, perhaps anonymously, in an internet form?

Do let us know! Emailing the scholarship committee chair is always an option, but would you like other channels?

We always find amazing stories in our awardee reports, they never cease to inspire us!

The next application deadline is December 15 for conferences taking place in Feb 1 – Mar 31, 2020.  

For more information and to apply visit: https://women.acm.org/scholarships/

To see previous winners’ reports visit https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2019

If you have any questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair Prof. Viviana Bono, at bono@di.unito.it.