ACM-W Connections–January 2020

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

ACM-W is kicking off 2020 with lots of exciting news!

It with great pleasure that I announce the official establishment of ACM-W Asia-Pacific.  Following a successful workshop in Chengdu, China last May, women from Australia, China, Jakarta, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand continued to collaborate and work to establish this new regional committee.  Jacqueline Tate, Education Partnerships Manager at Coder Academy in Melbourne, Australia has accepted the role of inaugural chair of the group.  Other members of the leadership team include Deputy Chairs Pornsiri Muenchaisri (Thailand) and Jane Yang (China) and Events Chair Hiri Meidia (Indonesia).  The group has plans to convene another meeting in the coming months and explore the launching of a Celebration in the region as their first major event.  Look for more information from this committee in the coming months.

I am also pleased to announce that Viviene Sze, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the winner of the 2020 ACM-W Rising Star Award.  The award, made possible through the benevolence of Athena Lecturer awardee Andrea Goldsmith, was established to recognize a woman whose early-career research has had a significant impact on the computing discipline.  More about Vivienne and her research appears later in this newsletter.  Congratulations, Vivienne!

Over the next four months, there will be thirteen ACM Celebrations held in seven countries including India, the Philippines, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Visit the project web page ( for more information about these events.

Thanks for standing with us as we work to fulfill our mission.
Jodi Tims
ACM-W Chair

Thank you, NCWIT!

ACM-W extends its sincere thanks to our longstanding partner, the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT), for its commitment to provide $27,000 to sponsor US-based Celebration during the 2019-2020 academic year.  These regional conferences are so impactful to the young women who attend.  Thank you, NCWIT, for your generous support!

Reminder: Applications for International Grad Cohort program are due – deadline extended!

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 are extending the application deadline through January 22, 2020.  You can find the form to apply at

Other ACM-W News

  • The next deadline for the Scholarships Program is February 15th.  See the Scholarships web page ( for more details.
  • ACM-W Professional Chapters feature the ACM-W Ankara chapter
  • The ACM-W North America Committee highlights its Celebrations.
  • The ACM-W Europe report recognizes two women recently named as ACM Fellows.

ACM-W Rising Star Award Recipient: Vivienne Sze

ACM-W would like to announce Dr. Vivienne Sze as the winner of the inaugural ACM-W Rising Star Award. The ACM-W Rising Star Award recognizes a woman whose early-career research has had a significant impact on the computing discipline.  Dr. Sze will receive a framed certificate and $1,000 stipend. ACM-W would like to thank Dr. Andrea Goldsmith for her donation, which was used to establish this award.

Dr. Sze is an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. Dr. Sze develops new techniques that bridge algorithm and hardware design, enabling designs optimized across multiple layers of abstraction for greatly improved performance. Her efforts focus on algorithms, circuits, and systems for a broad set of applications, including machine learning, computer vision, robotics, image processing, and video coding. Examples of her groundbreaking work include customized accelerators that provide substantial power reduction in computer vision and deep learning applications and new video coding algorithms that provide order-of-magnitude throughput improvements.

Dr. Sze is widely recognized and has received many awards, including the AFOSR and DARPA Young Faculty Award, faculty awards from Google, Facebook, and Qualcomm, the Edgerton Faculty Award, the 2018 Symposium on VLSI Circuits Best Student Paper Award, the 2017 CICC Outstanding Invited Paper Award, and the 2016 IEEE Micro Top Picks Award. She received the Jin-Au Kong Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Prize in electrical engineering at MIT in 2011. From September 2010 to July 2013, she was a Member of Technical Staff in the Systems and Applications R&D Center at Texas Instruments (TI), Dallas, TX, where she designed low-power algorithms and architectures for video coding. She also represented TI in the JCT-VC committee of ITU-T and ISO/IEC standards body during the development of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which received a Primetime Engineering Emmy Award.

The ACM-W President Dr. Jodi Tims will be presenting the award (pending logistics) to Dr. Sze at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA 2020) in Valencia, Spain. We would like to congratulate Dr. Sze on her early career success and contributions to the field of computing!

ACM Celebrations in North America

Over the last two months, three Celebrations were held in three countries of North America reaching over 1,000 students! Celebrations were held by the Caribbean Celebration of Women in Computing (in Puerto Rico), Canadian Celebration (in Ontario, Canada), and a four-state Celebration in the U.S. (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas). Special shout-out to Nayda Santiago, Carol Spradling, and Wendy Powley and their volunteer teams for their time and efforts in supporting and encouraging future tech leaders. Next up are Celebrations in the U.S., including Carolina Women in Computing (North and South Carolina), Tri-state Women in Computing Conference (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana), and Capital Area Women in Computing (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey).

If you want to learn more about Celebrations in North America or are interested in volunteering, you can reach us at

You can now follow us on Facebook! @ACMWNorthAmerica

The First ACM-W Professional Chapter in Turkey: ACM-W Ankara

ACM-W Ankara is set up to carry out the ACM-W mission to “support, celebrate and advocate for the full engagement of women in all aspects of the computing field” and to become a model for the future Turkish ACM-W Professional Chapters. As the first professional ACM-W chapter established in Turkey, ACM-W Ankara will organize events and also act as an umbrella organization for the existing ACM and ACM-W student chapters in the country. The initial target group of the chapter is female students at the graduate level in computer science and related fields. The initial programs will aim to provide platforms for networking, motivating and encouraging women in computing. The chapter plans to extend its target as the students at the undergraduate level and K12 in the future.

The work to establish ACM-W Ankara Professional Chapter started just after two professors of Computer Engineering, namely Pelin Angın from Middle East Technical University, Ankara and Öznur Özkasap from Koç University, İstanbul attended the CRA-W Grad Cohort for Women Workshop in April 2019, Chicago and returned home with great inspiration to organize a similar event in Turkey.

The first meeting to start working for ACM-W Ankara was held in July 2019 to which Reyyan Ayfer from Bilkent University, also attended. Having a mission, specific and well defined goals and planned activities helped to bring together many women to kick-off the chapter.

The same reasons attracted the attention of organizations to support the activities. After a meeting held in İstanbul, the first step was taken for partnership for Grad Cohort Women Turkey with inzva, which is a hacker community established in 2017, focused on Algorithm and Artificial Intelligence, aiming to cultivate the talents of Turkish students through a series of events ranging from year-long study groups to camps. Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed and work for organizing the first Grad Cohort for Women in Turkey started.

Grad Cohort events will be targeting women in computing pursuing their graduate studies at masters or doctorate level. The aim is to bring them together to encourage, inspire and network. Two events will be organized annually, one in English to have international role models as speakers and second in the local language Turkish.

The first Grad Cohort is planned to be held in April 2020 at inzva, which is located inside a historical factory building at Beykoz, İstanbul.

The initial activities of ACM-W Ankara Professional Chapter will be to:

  • Organize Grad Cohort events twice a year one in English and one in Turkish
  • Organize Turkish ACM and ACM-W Student Chapters Meeting once a year
  • Participate in research conferences in Turkey to raise awareness about the issues
  • Reach out to women in computing by blog posts, news and events via social media

Elena Ferrari and Wendy Mackay awarded ACM Fellowship

In December 2019, Prof. Elena Ferrari (University of Insubria) and Prof. Wendy Mackay (Inria -Saclay) were awarded ACM Fellowships, the two women from Europe to be recognised as ACM fellows.

Prof Elena Ferrari was recognised for her contributions to security and privacy of data and social network systems, and Prof. Wendy Mackay was recognised for her contributions to human-computer interaction, mixed reality and participatory design, and leadership in ACM SIGCHI.  Meet these wonderful women who are trailblazers in their respective fields.

Elena Ferrari, inspiring the next generation of women into cybersecurity

Photo by Gerald Bruneau, courtesy of  ©Fondazione Bracco, exhibition: Life as a Scientist

Elena Ferrari is a full professor of Computer Science at the University of Insubria, Italy where she leads the STRICT SociaLab.  She received her PhD and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Milano (Italy).

Prof.  Ferrari is a world-renowned researcher and leader with high impact research and technology contributions to data security and privacy. She leads research projects that create technologies to enable efficient and effective data sharing without sacrificing privacy or security. Prof. Ferrari’s research, ranging from social network privacy and IoT to online privacy, critical infrastructure protection, has received funding from several institutions and enterprises, including EU Commission, Google, IBM, and the Italian Ministry for University and Research. She has published several books and more than 240 papers in international journals and conference proceedings.

Prof. Ferrari is the recipient of several awards, including the ACM CODASPY Research Award for lasting and innovative research contributions to the cybersecurity and privacy fields (2019) and the ACM SACMAT 10 Year Test of Time Award (2019). She became an IEEE Fellow in 2012 for her research contribution to security and privacy for data and applications. In 2018, Prof. Ferrari was named one of the 50 most influential Italian women in tech.

Prof. Ferrari promotes cybersecurity and privacy to women extensively and has supervised numerous female PhD students. As part of the CONCORDIA EU  research project on cybersecurity, she actively participates in promoting women in cyber and has co-organized a workshop at our flagship event,  ACM WomenEncourage: Women in Cybersecurity: A manifesto for TODAY.  To date, women represent only 24% of the workforce in the cybersecurity domain. While the figure increased over the years, it is still far from the ideal of a balanced representation of both genders. Through the workshop at womENcourage, Prof. Ferrari and her co-organisers provided a much-needed forum for engaging with stakeholders from different areas of cybersecurity to agree on common objectives to bridge this gender gap.

Wendy Mackay, exploring the limits of technology interaction

Wendy Mackay is a Research Director at INRIA, Paris-Saclay and the Université Paris-Saclay (formerly Université Paris-Sud), the first and only woman promoted to Inria’s highest research rank. She received her PhD from MIT in Management of Technological Innovation, and an MA from Northeastern University in Experimental Psychology. In 2017, she was awarded Doctorem Scientarum Honoris Causa in the Faculty of Science by Aarhus University, Denmark for her whole career, particularly for her work on interactive video, participatory design and mixed reality.

She is responsible for many computing firsts: At Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), she wrote the original authoring software for IVIS, the world’s first commercial interactive video system (1983, pre-Macintosh). At MIT, she conducted the first major study of email and cognitive overload (the 1980s). At Xerox PARC, she helped establish a new community for computer augmented environments.

Prof. Mackay is currently leading the Ex)situ research group in Human-Computer Interaction at Inria. Her current research on human-computer partnerships fundamentally reenvisions interaction and shifts the perspective on the role of AI in interactive systems. Her Ex)situ research group explores the limits of interaction — how extreme users interact with technology in extreme situations. Her work particularly focuses on creative professionals, artists and designers who rewrite the rules as they create new works, and scientists who seek to understand complex phenomena through creative exploration of large quantities of data.

Prof. Mackay is a recognized leader in the international Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community, holding numerous leadership roles in ACM and SIGCHI, and has been instrumental in developing a strong HCI community in France. She received the ACM/SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award for Service this year. She is also a recipient of a European Research Council Advanced Grant.

We congratulate both professors wholeheartedly for their amazing careers, and for serving as great role models for all of us.