Message from the ACM-W Europe chair
Why is diversity seemingly an NP-Hard Problem? Why can we not simplify the issue and just fix it? There are many issues involved, some of which we either have not identified yet or do not realize we are failing at. Sometimes we are afraid to try as we may fail and cause more damage. Making a change requires bravery. When solving a mathematical equation, we teach our children to do the easy bit first and then try to work out the rest. Starting is always the hardest bit. So let’s make a start, what easy thing can we do to make a positive change? Let’s begin by highlighting members in their diversity. #BlackLivesMatter is an incredible movement, and we want to do more to make a change rather than simply to speak the words. Help us move forward by nominating yourself or others for any of the following outlining the reasons why you/they should be considered:
- Volunteering with our Working Groups. Let’s make a change to ensure that we have greater diversity in our leadership roles
- Blogs/Diversity Heroes. Is there someone you would like to see featured? Suggest someone for one of our series.
- Wikipedia. We need to highlight more women in computing. Let’s work together to highlight another role model! Who would you choose?
- Nominate more women to ACM Distinguished Speaker Program.
These things are simply our starting point. We know that we want to do more for our members. We want to hear from you and work with you to make a positive change, so please do consider the above points. We can make progress as a community of professionals, and we can be passionate about the need for change as a family of like-minded people. Stay strong and stay hopeful for a brighter future for everyone.
Ruth G. Lennon, Chair of the ACM-W Europe
Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes
Starting from June 2020, we talk with several heroes about their tech career journey, about their perspective on intersectionality and reflect on initiatives for equality. Here is how they answered: “If you were to change something in the way we run tech communities and networks, what would you change?” Read more on our blog: https://acmweurope.acm.org/europeblog/
June 2020 – Bolanle Ojokoh: There should be more recognition and rewards for excellence. One important thing is outreach work, especially North-South collaboration and reaching out to the under-represented in developing settings, who are talented and would have been better contributors to developing the world if there had been more enlightenment. Improved industry-academic linkage, especially in the developing settings, should be more encouraged too.
July 2020 – Masshuda Glencross: I would grow diversity among people in senior decision-making roles to help build a much stronger commitment to supporting the whole community rather than just a certain section of the tech community. We still have too few women in senior academic positions, too few on boards of tech firms and even fewer people of colour in these roles. Decision-makers need to mirror the rich diversity of our community. We all bring strengths, through different perspectives, and these perspectives are too often overlooked.
August 2020 – Amani Boughalmi: I would suggest that tech companies and other tech initiatives facilitate international internship opportunities. These would allow women to sharpen their skills in a real work environment, working with experienced professionals and using specialised software and hardware. Finally, many talented people in the world are born in developing countries and are sometimes under-represented. They should be reached out to contribute to world development, and so, to ensure geographic diversity and equity.
womENcourage 2020, virtually hosted by ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan
24-27 September 2020
womENcourage team is working tirelessly to bring you an exciting program. The registration opened on the 20th of July. Register to hear from an impressive line-up of keynote speakers!
The participants will be welcomed by Vafa Kazdal, Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs at ADA University; Gabriela Kotsis, ACM President, and Ruth Lennon, ACM-W Europe chair. Nuria Oliver, Chief Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance will present the Data Science to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic: the Valencia Case. Prof. Cecilia Mascolo, Cambridge University will describe the progress in Health Diagnostics through Audio Signals Collection and Analysis. Georgia Koutrika, Research Director at Athena Research Center, will discuss Democratizing Data Access through Intelligent Data Exploration Tools. Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI at T-Labs, will question Who Makes Wiser Decisions? Men, Women or Machines? Silvana Badaloni, University of Padova, will talk on Gender Fairness of Machine Learning Techniques. They will be joined by Prof Sarit Kraus, Bar-Ilan University, who is an expert on the development of intelligent agents that can interact proficiently with people and with robots. Check the details of the program here: https://womencourage.acm.org/2020/program/
The ACM-W 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 six times each year, to distribute awards across a range of conferences. The ACM Scholarships are made possible nowadays by the generous support of Google and Oracle. The program was started in 2013 by Elaine Weyuker and has been run without any funding interruptions since then.
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. The full collection of previous reports from the students awarded scholarships can be found now at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/. We never cease to find truly inspiring stories!
This month we introduce the two new members of the Scholarship Awards committee. Our previous chairperson Dr Adriana Compagnoni has reduced her activities to be only on an advising capacity to the committee and we’re fortunate to have two new full-time members. As we discussed in the last newsletter, the committee is looking forward to opening the application process to women students working on interdisciplinary environments. Our new members are ideal to help with this task, as both work on multidisciplinary aspects of Computing.
Dr Sara Kalvala (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/people/sara_kalvala/) is a reader at the University of Warwick, UK, and her research focuses on Computational Biology and Formal Methods, especially compilers.
Meanwhile Dr Elaine Wah (http://www.elainewah.com/) is currently the Head of Quantitative Research at IEX, the Investors Exchange, Fintech computing. We’re particularly excited about the fact that Elaine was one of our scholars back in 2014.
We also pleased to announce the award granted in the last round of discussions. Silvia Pagliarini, a PhD student at the Computer Science Dept, University of Bordeaux has received a grant to go to Chile, where she’s co-organizing the workshop “SMILES: Sensorimotor Interaction, Language and Embodiment of Symbols”, in October 2020. We do need many `smiles’ in these times of pandemic difficulties.
We hope all of you and yours are healthy and well!
The next application deadline is October 15 for conferences taking place December, 1st—January 31st, 2021. For more information and to apply visit: https://women.acm.org/scholarships/.
If you have any questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair Prof. Viviana Bono, email@example.com
Like everyone, we are asking ourselves questions about the coming year. In particular, we have had lengthy discussions about how best to support and enable ACM Celebrations and ACM-W Student Chapters in North America during the 2020-21 academic year. This also means looking at events related to the move to virtual spaces and asking ourselves how we can use this as an opportunity to bring more Celebrations and Student Chapters to women.
Our answer? We are still working on some of this, including looking at regional areas that have never held a Celebrations or formed a Student Chapter and using virtual means of supporting them. However, we do know a few things. One, existing Student Chapters have already begun to move to virtual spaces, like the University of Oregon’s Women in Computer Science chapter. This spring, they used the move to online meetings to invite UOregon and WiCS alumni, Sierra Battan, to discuss her engineering role at Nike.
Similarly, Arshia Khan, Associate Professor of Computer Science, decided to launch the first virtual Celebrations in North America for the Women in Computing Celebrations at University of Minnesota Duluth (MinneWIC). They condensed the 1.5 day planned Celebrations to 6 hours on a Saturday, with guest speakers and students sharing their research.
As we continue to consider how we can support you with Celebrations and Student Chapters, please feel free to reach out. In the meantime, we plan on announcing some new goals for helping Celebrations and Student Chapters grow in regions that are presently underserved by ACM-W.
ACM-W North America volunteers are the best! We are committed to celebrating, advocating, promoting, and supporting women in tech. Care to join us? We are in particular need of volunteers outside of the United States. If you live in North America and have experience with communications (e.g., interviewing, editing, preparing social media) or advocating for minoritized women, we would love to hear from you. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the newest ACM-W Student Chapter, Marymount University ACM-W Student Chapter in Virginia! Shout out to Rama Najib, the inaugural chair for the Chapter, and the faculty sponsor, Diane Murphy (Professor and Department Chair, IT, Data Science, and Cybersecurity). Thank you both for your time and commitment to in supporting women studying computing!
Student Spotlight: Erica Smith
What’s it like to pivot to online learning as a CS major? Erica Smith is a student from Richmond, Virginia. She is a Sophomore at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (NCAT) State University, pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. She is the ACM-W president for the NCAT chapter the 2020-2021 school year and a 2020 Google STEP intern.
How did you come to computing? What was the “spark” that made you know you wanted to be involved in computing?
I was first exposed to computing through Hour of Code in the eighth grade. This inspired me to sign up for an HTML/CSS course for the following school year. I remember, on the first day of class, we had an in-depth discussion about what a computer was and how they work. I found this conversation enthralling and I knew that I wanted to learn as much as possible about this field.
What is the biggest obstacle you face right now?
The biggest obstacle I face right now, is the current pandemic. Like many other people, I had to leave college early to come home, and since then, I haven’t been out much.
Doing school and work at home has been a constant battle of maintaining motivation and staying positive. I like to keep my spaces very separate, at school for learning, workplace for working, and home for relaxing. Now that they’ve been blurred, shifting headspaces for tasks has been difficult.
To maintain positivity, I just try to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing, that one day, things will get back to normal.
What things is your university or is your ACM-W chapter doing to address COVID-19 and keep interaction going?
Like most colleges, my school shut down their campus in March and sent everyone home. Since then, they’ve been regulating communicating to students about developments within the state and likeliness of campus opening for the upcoming fall semester.
Our ACM and ACM-W chapter has been keeping in contact with members of our organization through Slack, giving regular updates and sharing remote opportunities for this summer.
What are you most excited about right now in what you are doing or in computing?
Right now, I’m most excited about my internship at Google. I just started May 18th and I’ve already learned so much. It’s not the experience I thought I would be getting because of COVID-19. I’m making the most of the situation and I know I’m in for a very informative and compelling summer.
What’s something you learned that you’d like to pass along?
Always ask questions.
When it comes to school, jobs, and regular life, there will always be someone around that is willing to help and answer any question you may have.
There is no such thing as a stupid question. I had to learn this in quite a frustrating way. This past fall semester, I was stuck trying implementing a feature of a major programming project for three hours. I decided that I would go ask my teacher about it the next day. After asking my question, I was able to wrap up the entire project in about an hour. Since then, I have asked my teachers, mentors, or peers whenever I get stuck so I never have to repeat that experience.
What advice would you give to a young student in computing to be successful?
Never doubt yourself and your abilities.
I’ve done plenty of that myself and it harms more than it helps. If computing is truly a field you’re interested in, pursue it. Never think that you don’t belong in this field, because you do.
ACM-W India emphasizes on women empowerment in computer-related fields and domains. It focuses on providing a platform for sharing resources, information, ideas, and experiences with its diverse range of activities so that women can effectively tackle the challenges in their computing careers. It aims to promote computer literacy and provide strong networking opportunities, enabling women towards being independent, confident, self-reliant, and successful.
The Computing Research Association-Widening Participation (CRA-WP) is an international computing body that started conducting the Grad Cohort workshops from 2004 in the different educational institutions of the USA. Over the last 15 years, these sessions have guided many women through their academic and professional years. Drawing inspiration from it, ACM-W India decided to adopt this workshop model to the Indian setting. As a result, the first edition was organized at IIT Bombay in July 2018 and the second one was held at IIT Delhi in 2019.
ACM India Grad Cohort 2020, the third installment of this pan-India workshop series, was virtually co-organized by the CSE Discipline at IIT Gandhinagar and ACM-W from 24th – 26th July 2020. It kick started with a warm welcome address by Dr. Neeldhara Misra (faculty, IITGN and member, ACM-W), followed by the opening remarks from Dr. Heena Timani (chairperson, ACM-W India)Cofounder and Director, iAnanya Datalytix Pvt.Ltd, Dr. Nutan Limaye (faculty, IIT Bombay and vice-chairperson, ACM-W) and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza (faculty, IIIT Bangalore). They highlighted that the long term objective is to positively shape the future of our societies by celebrating and advocating women in computing.
On Day 1, the first keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Sunita Sarawagi (professor at IIT Bombay and the Infosys Prize 2019 winner), during which she talked about the journey of machine learning models, starting from their birth and going all the way to how they are serving the real world in the current times. Although they have an amazing number of applications, a lot more still needs to be done and this is the reason ML continues to be a fascinating area for further research in computing. The next talk was given by Dr. Manik Gupta (faculty, BITS Pilani-Hyderabad), where she provided her perspectives on how women can plan and progress in their computing careers. The key is to embrace womanhood, be focused, work hard, carve our own career paths, and define our own success. In another session, Dr. Bhavana Kanukurthi (faculty, IISc Bangalore) spoke on choosing a research advisor, topic, and group. According to her, the process should be well-planned, align with our skills, and exhibit practical relevance. Dr. Aparna Taneja (software engineer, Google research) described the practical aspects of this topic by sharing experiences and insights from her own thesis and present job responsibility.
Jaya Sreevalsan Nair (faculty, IIIT Bangalore) gave examples of some eminent minds in various fields and discussed the latest topics of online presence and personal branding. She stated that the trick is to maintain a proper combination of one’s online and offline persona. This was followed by a captivating panel discussion that shed light on some aspects of remote working and maintaining a proper work-life balance. The panelists of this session were Dr. Tulika Mitra (Provost’s Chair Professor of Computer Science, National University of Singapore), Dr. Joycee Mekie (faculty, IITGN), Dr. Hemangee Kapoor (faculty, IIT Guwahati), Dr. Rekha Singhal (senior research scientist, TCS) and Dr. Akanksha Agrawal (postdoctoral researcher, Ben-Gurion University, Israel).
Talking about their personal and professional experiences, they motivated the participants and advised them on how to carve their own niche in computer science.
Day 2 opened with the second keynote lecture of this event that was delivered by Dr. Meena Mahajan (professor, Institute of Mathematical Sciences). An eminent contributor in Discrete Algorithms, Complexity Theory, Matching Theory, Combinatorics, and Proof Complexity, she recounted some interesting experiences from her life and expressed that she grew increasingly fond of theoretical computing with time and proceeded to pursue her Ph.D. in this domain. She described some fascinating facets of this field. In her words, every unknown in complexity theory is like a creative puzzle yet to be solved and there is a place for everyone to work in this exciting area of education and research. The next session was given by Dr. Prajakta Nimbhorkar (faculty, Chennai Mathematical Institute), where she discussed the background preparation (breadth and depth) for Ph.D.
Dr. Ranjita Bhagwan (senior principal researcher, Microsoft) talked about confidence and encouragement by narrating some instances from her life and emphasized that failures are our path to success since they teach us how to firmly believe in ourselves and live positively. Akanksha Agrawal gave a session on quantity versus quality in publishing from the viewpoint of research in theoretical computing, and Tulika Mitra highlighted this topic with respect to the early career researcher level, giving examples from systems research. A thought-provoking panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lipika Dey (principal scientist, TCS) included Meena Mahajan, Dr. Uttama Lahiri (faculty, IITGN), and Dr. Arpita Korwar (faculty, IIT Goa) as panelists. They shared their life-journeys and provided quality guidance to the participants on how to cope up positively and effectively with uncertainty and other related challenges. After this, all the participants enjoyed the online screening of an inspirational documentary movie that is based on the life works of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman and the first Iranian to win the greatest prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal.
The third and final day of this workshop was initiated with an interactive session by Dr. Sushmita Gupta (faculty, National Institute of Science Education and Research). She discussed whether going for a post-doctorate is really a hit or a miss based on her experiences in theoretical computing. Next in line was a process-oriented talk given by Arpita Korwar, during which she explained the process of managing a job hunt and stated that it is all about constantly and actively being in the game. Richa Singh (faculty, IIT Jodhpur) and Anasua Bhowmik (Fellow Design Engineer, AMD Bangalore) provided valuable guidance on post-Ph.D. career options in the industry and academia respectively.
The ACM India Grad Cohort 2020 offered a perfect place for women in computing to connect with one another via several virtual platforms such as zoom, gather.town, WhatsApp, and social media.
Moreover, it also housed three major contests for women participants, with a chance to win exciting prizes. The last date for entry-submissions was 31st July 2020 and the goodies were sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services. The results were announced on 10th August 2020 over email, on the event website, and on different social media platforms.
With an attendance of more than 195 registered participants (students, researchers, and leading experts from industry and academia), the workshop was a huge success and concluded on an optimistic note. It proved to be an excellent platform for women in computing and its allied areas to build discussion forums with some of the most eminent minds in this field. Several participants voiced their views on how enriching it was to meet their women role-models. We received very good response of the participants on virtual format of Grad Cohort workshop. Opinion was taken using menti.com.
The next edition of this Grad Cohort will be conducted at IIT Jodhpur, with Dr. Richa Singh being its organizer. Dr. Heena Timani also shared the list of some upcoming interesting ACM India events. In their concluding remarks, Dr. Neeldhara Misra, Dr. Nutan Limaye, and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza thanked IIT Gandhinagar, ACM-W, Google, TCS, the team of volunteers and all the Participants for massively supporting this event and making it a smashing success. Everyone bid adieu with the promise of staying connected to each other through these events, as a supportive and strong women community in the field of computer science education, research, and industry.
The goal of the Communications Committee is to empower the communications of all chapters and levels of leadership with tools, frameworks, and our global platforms. We are growing our organizational communication to bring in the experiences from our chapters and celebrations and share our knowledge and support from our leadership. Especially during these challenging times, we want to help the ACM-W stay connected and informed.
We amplify ACM-W action.
We’re channeling this mission into two main efforts: reliable communication resources and rich social media presence.
Reliable Communication Resources.
Bettina Bair, Senior Lecturer, Ohio State University
I’m making core improvements to the way that information is curated and archived for the community: website, Wikipedia, newsletter, printed matter and so on. Some of the things I have been working on lately include:
Volunteer recognition badges – these are little graphics that your members and volunteers can add to their professional web pages and emails. Check with your ACMW Chapter or Regional leader for more information.
New Website User Experience – We’re working with a small team of undergrad interns to collect user requirements and design a new website user experience that will empower you to focus on the ACMW content that is important to you.
Printable Graphics – these are logos, postcards, posters, stickers and other graphics that you can download and print for your chapter or celebration.
Booth Decorations – we’ve been investing in booth decorations, like reusable posters and swag, that will distinguish ACMW at GHC and regional celebrations.
Newsletter Process and Format. You’ve probably noticed that the format of our monthly newsletter has changed. We’ve also modified our editorial processes so that we give you a few really interesting stories each month, instead of dozens of briefs.
Rich Social Media Presence
Sarah McRoberts, User Experience Researcher, Google
My vision for ACM-W is making it easier for us to share our stories and stay up to date about ACM-W/ACM news and opportunities. Here is some work I’m starting up on behalf of ACM-W.
Growing our ACM-W community across the social media landscape – It’s important to us to be able to meet ACM-W members on the platforms where they’re already sharing and collecting information about their work in computing. Perhaps you’re already following our Facebook page, but are you following us on Twitter @OfficialACMW? Or what about our LinkedIn Group? Soon, we’ll also be launching our official Instagram account. Make sure to tag us when you have local ACM-W events, we love to share what ACM-W chapters are doing around the world!
Recruiting social media champs for Communication Committee volunteers – Do you love learning about news and history in the world of women in computing? Do you need more excuses to practice photoshop? Do you feel like there’s still something missing from ACM-W’s social media pages? We might be missing you! We are currently recruiting student and professional ACM-W members as volunteers to join an experimental Communications Committee.
This commitment would be for 6 months and consist of 2 or 3 initial video calls, a group chat with fellow Communications Committee members, and about an hour a week of content editing/development/collection (but very flexible). The goal of this group would be to help develop our social media platforms to connect with our members. Communications Committee members would also participate in setting our expectations and practices. If you’re interested in joining or learning more about the group, please fill out this brief questionnaire by August 1st.
Challenges focusing our social media #brand – A question that I often wrestle with is, what are the obligations of the ACM-W platforms? We occasionally are forwarded job listings, scholarship opportunities, and events from outside of the ACM umbrella. While we would never want to withhold an opportunity from our members, we also want to make sure that we are not implicitly endorsing organizations that we don’t know very well. I’m currently developing policies for sharing/resharing to help us maintain transparency and trust on our platforms.
In this newsletter, we have an interview with Prof Viviana Bono, the actual Chair of the Scholarship program. The interview was conducted by Dr Valeria de Paiva, of the Topos Institute, Berkeley, CA.
A few words with Viviana Bono, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, University of Torino, Italy, the Chair of the Scholarship Program since August, 2018.
VdP: Viviana, I know you’re very busy, but I thought the students and young professionals we usually work for in the Scholarships program might want to know more about your ideas on the history and future of the program. (We have this written conversation before and while the pandemic was hitting hard both Italy and the US, the places we work from.) So here are some questions for you!
1. When did you join the Scholarship program? Who invited you to run it?
I joined the Scholarship program committee in 2012, invited by Adriana Compagnoni. At that time we were only three people, including Adriana, the chair. Adriana and I met long ago when I was a PhD student and she was a post-doc. We are in the same field of academic research (Foundations of Programming Languages) and we have become friends over the years. When her chair mandate was over, in 2018, she asked me if I wanted to take over and I accepted gladly.
2. I believe you are the third “generation” managing the program and by this stage much more money from big companies like Microsoft, Google is available. However joining a moving train, like the ACM-W must be difficult, as they’re always trying to change and improve their ways,right? How difficult is it to be the chairperson of the scholarship program? What are the unexpected difficulties and pleasures of the job?
The ACM-W scholarship program was well-established when I was appointed chair. Up to then, as a member, I concentrated only on the single cycles of applications to select the scholars. Instead, suddenly I had to learn the rules of the trade: start to manage our funds, taking decisions on the behalf of the committee while trying to include all the different points of view and opinions, and make relations with the other chairs in ACM-W. It took me a year to feel comfortable. Certainly, it helped me to meet the ACM-W chair, Jodi Tims, and the other committee chairs in June 2019, in a general meeting in New York. Also, I still find important the advice of Elaine Weyuker, the founder of the scholarship program. What I love the most is to collect and read the reports that the scholars send to us post-conference: they are a source of enthusiasm and inspiration.
3. What do you think is the main motivation for the program? What are its positive points? I know that you’ve managed to get some of the computing systems working better for the program, for example, the awardee reports now get delivered directly to the report pages of the program, instead of having to be manually processed. Do you have more plans like that?
I believe it is important to encourage women to pursue a career in science in general. As computer scientists, we can do this at least within Computer Science. There are countries where the role models for women are still the old ones, wife and mother. And even if a woman has a job, the one in the family entitled to have a career is often the men, husbands and brothers. Being able to go to a conference in the early stages of the studies could be a powerful push for anyone, especially for women, in the direction of pursuing a successful computer science career in academia or in industry. About new plans: there are plans for a general reconstruction of the ACM-W website, therefore stay tuned for possible novelties.
4. What do you think are the main challenges of the program?
I believe it is important to keep it up-to-date, that is, to go along with the scientific and societal changes. For instance, we are opening up to a broader scope, accepting applications of students not necessarily in CS departments, as long as they work on proper computing projects. This is because interdisciplinarity is becoming more and more important.
5. Did you think it would take this long to get women into computing?
There were waves in this history. Think of the NASA programmers in the ’60s: they were almost all women. Then men took over. When I was an undergrad student, at the time of the spread of personal computers all over the world, women were back into computing. Now things look like we are going backwards again. I do not really know what the reason is, actually. However, I do think the problem is that interesting jobs are preferentially given to males, unfortunately.
6. What are your expectations for the program now? Do you have big new initiatives that you’d like to see implemented?
The pandemic situation stopped the flow of applications, unfortunately.
While it is important to have online versions of conferences to keep our research going, in-presence conferences are more fruitful in my opinion, as you can make alliances, working and from the human point of view alike, that will last very long. Let’s hope things will get back to normal for everything and everyone. As for new initiatives, the ACM-W scholarship program is well-established, therefore it will not change substantially, I expect. However you never know: once again, stay tuned!
VdP: Thank you Prof Bono, for your enthusiasm and dedication to research and in the Scholarships program!
We hope all of you and yours are staying healthy and well, surviving as best as we can the COVID-19 pandemic!
The ACM-W 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 six times each year, to distribute awards across a range of conferences. The program was started in 2013 by Elaine Weyuker.
The ACM Scholarships are made possible by the generous support of Google and Oracle. We ask students to share with us some of their thoughts on the conference they attended, preferably with a picture, so that we can show our readers and supporters the diversity of our winners. We never cease to find truly inspiring stories! The full collection of previous reports can be found now at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2020.
This month we report the names of the winners from the last round of the scholarship awards for conferences, which was decided at the beginning of May 2020. As we explained in the last newsletter, despite the cancellations and postponements forced on us by the coronavirus crisis, we decided to judge requests, as usual, assuming the earlier announced deadlines. Where conferences/workshops are canceled or postponed, we discuss with the students how to best use their awards.
In the penultimate cycle, we managed to contemplate eight students, three undergraduates, one graduate (Master’s program) student, and four doctoral students. The undergraduate students are Divya Yendapally (from the University of Georgia, Athens, USA), Lauren Bhagwandat (from Queen University, Canada) and Shafika Showkat Moni (from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky). Their interests are in very different areas, from EcoFeedback technology in HCI, to security of message passing in autonomous vehicles, via graphics and animation. The only masters’ graduate student is Vartika Agrahari, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Tirupat, India who is attending a meeting on teaching computing to novice programmers in Tartu, Estonia. The doctoral students are Zohreh Dehghani Champiri, from Simon Fraser University, Canada who’s attending HCI in Denmark; Elli Anastasiadi, from Reykjavik University, who planned to attend ICALP in Germany, Raazia Sosan, from DHA Suffa University, in Karachi, Pakistan who plans to attend SIGGRAPH in Washington, DC and Aakriti Upadhyay, from the University at Albany, SUNY, New York, who plans to attend the Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics (WAFR), in Finland. As you can see, very different fields and very different personal situations. However, with the coronavirus crisis deepening, there were no applications in the last cycle, as the whole world has shut down for several months, as of this writing.
Anyhow, congratulations to all of our winners! We hope you do get to be part of your chosen research communities!
The next application deadline is August 15 for conferences taking place Oct 1 – Nov 30, 2020.
For more information and to apply visit: https://women.acm.org/scholarships/.
If you have any questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair Prof. Viviana Bono, email@example.com
Arati Dixit and Bushra Anjum, as ACM-W Standing Committees chairs, have been overseeing four committees for about a year now. These four vibrant pillars are the Rising Star Committee, the Scholarships Committee, the NextGen Committee, and the Professional Chapters Committee.We provide leadership advice and guidance, offer advocacy for the various initiatives, and serve as a liaison between the standing committees and the ACM-W core leadership. The ACM-W core leadership came together virtually for the annual meet up recently (picture attached) and together we acknowledged and celebrated various achievements of our standing committees. We are thankful for the leadership provided by the Rising Star Committee’s chair, Pamela Wisniewski, who successfully built a new initiative from the ground up. We also celebrate the renewed funding for the Scholarships Committee and the broadening of that project’s disciplinary focus, passionately led by its chair, Viviana Bono. Our continued focus remains on expanding the reach, viability, and success of the Professional Chapters and NextGen initiatives, and are thankful to their chairs, Rachelle Kristof Hippler and Priya Chawla respectively, for their continued work and effort. Below is a brief preview of each of the four committees. Please do consider volunteering with these amazing initiatives! Contact details are provided.
Rising Star Committee
The ACM-W Rising Star Award Committee has been formed in 2019 to recognize women whose early-career research has had a significant impact on the computing discipline. In the last year, our biggest achievements have been forming the inaugural committee and selecting the inaugural award recipient, Dr. Vivienne Sze. We would especially like to thank Andrea Goldsmith for her donation, which established the award, as well as the selection committee members, Drs. Pamela Wisniewski (chair), Samaher Al-Janabi, Lilia Georgieva, Bimlesh Wadhwa, and Tao Xie. If you are interested in knowing more or volunteering with us, please reach out to Pamela Wisniewski (pamwisATucfDOTedu).
The ACM-W Scholarship program has been started in 2013 by Elaine Weyuker to allow early-in career woman students to travel to a research conference, to open their eyes to the world of research, and help them aspire to something they might not otherwise even consider.
In the last year, we were able to fund many students. You can read their stories at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2019. We would especially like to thank our sponsors Google and Oracle for their support to achieve our goals. Looking forward, we are excited about starting to open to applications of woman students working on computing projects also in interdisciplinary environments. We have open positions of committee members. If you are interested in knowing more or volunteering with us, please reach out to Viviana Bono (vivianaDOTbonoATunitoDOTit)
The ACM-W Next Generation Committee was formed in 2018 to engage the next generation of computing talent and industry professionals to develop membership sustainment activities among future generations as they move from academic chapters to the career stage. Some of the highlights from last year are leading the “Design Thinking Workshop: Global Challenges for NextGen Women in Computing” at WomenENcourage conference in Rome, Italy, and establishing a Global Ambassadors Group to grow ACM-W NextGen volunteer base globally. Looking forward we are excited to work with the ACM-W Professional Chapters & Celebrations Committees to host virtual events for our members. If you are interested in learning more or volunteering with us, please reach out to NextGen committee chair, Priya Chawla (chawlprATgmailDOTcom).
Professional Chapters Committee
ACM-W Professional Chapters give you a local voice for change with the backing of an international organization. Professional chapters work with student chapters and industry leaders to advocate for equity and diversity in the tech industry. We recognize the work of our professional organizations around the world: ACM-W UK, Ankara, Azerbaijan, Belgrade, Chennai, Cyprus, Delhi, Greek, Northwest Ohio, Inhambane, Jamshoro, OCWiC, Pune, Tallinn, Trondheim, and Windhoek Chapter. Won’t you consider starting an ACM-W Professional Chapter near you? Contact Rachelle Kristof Hippler (rhipplerATbwDOTedu) for more information.
Message from ACM-W Europe Chair
On behalf of all of the ACM-W Europe, I would like to thank you for continuing to be you. Covid-19 has caused stress for many of us. We worry about our health, our jobs and our general state of mind. We may not always feel ok, and this is fine. Everyone finds it hard sometimes. Whatever the world holds for us, there will be an end to the difficulties.
Perhaps this is a time to take on something new or perhaps it is a time to simply value all that we have. Do whatever is best for you. Do not feel under pressure to work longer and harder. Be kind to yourself. We do not need to compete against ourselves. We decide what our measure of success is.
We hope to see you sometime soon at one of our many conferences and celebrations. For now, let’s celebrate and be proud of who
ACM-W Europe Chair
womENcourage 2020 will run as an online virtual event
The womENcourage team has been closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. It’s now been decided that womENcourage 2020 will run as an online virtual event to ensure the health and welfare of our attendees. At this time, the team is still looking forward to your contributions – still not too late to submit workshop/tutorial proposals.
womENcourage 2020 virtual information session held at ADA’s Legacy
As a precursor to womENcourage, ADA University ran an online event on the 23-24th of April. The event was moderated by Araz Yusubov (Dean, School of IT and Engineering, ADA University). On the 23rd of April, Sevinj Jafarli, Ilaha Manafova, and Lala Shahbandayeva shared their experiences of participating at womENcourage and how it helped with their career. Zeynab Rzayeva talked about poster submissions, and hints and tips for successful submission. Bev Bachmayer of womENcourage Steering Committee related the history of womEncourage and the team behind the scenes. On the 24th of April, Ulviyya Jafarli and Nijat Mursali talked about Big Data and AI education, and Samir Mammadov, and Natavan Akhundova talked about their Big Data and AI projects, and their advice for those who want to enter the field? These topics are also the themes of the womENcourage main conference.
Blog ACM-W Europe Blog
We’ve been hosting guest bloggers on our ACM-W Europe blog. Here is a selection.
System of Equations – Sabina Mammadova
One of the best things about womENcourage is its unique networking opportunity with women at all levels of their career from Europe in one place. So, let’s start with meeting people online! In April, a junior bachelor student in information technologies at Ada University, Sabina Mammadova, wrote for us about her career in computing and her thoughts on academic excellence. Read more on our blog.
Blog Series: Reflections on womENcourage 2019
The theme for womENcourage 2020 is “The equation has two sides”, as this year’s event aims to increase the number of male participants to break the women-only event stereotype. Inclusivity and involving all parties are crucial for resolving the diversity issues. So, May’s guest blogger is very timely – Burak Karabulut, who participated in womENcourage 2019, wrote about his experience of the event. Burak studies Computer Technology and Information Systems at Bilkent University in Turkey and is a Candidate Engineer at HAVELSAN. Read more from Burak on our blog.
BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium by Adriana Wilde
A very timely blog article as womENcourage 2020 moves online. In May, we’ve had the privilege of Adriana Wilde writing her experience attending BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, which ran for the first time online due to the pandemic. Adriana Wilde is part of the womENcourage steering and organizing committee and is pursuing a part-time PhD in Computer Science at the University of Southampton. We thank her for this marvellous account of the event, and the inspiration for participating in online events such as the upcoming womENcourage. Read more here.
New Additions to Wikipedia!
In March, to celebrate International Women’s day, some members of our team started contributing to English Wikipedia with articles about women that are in computing, and from as many European countries as possible. We are delighted that three entries were accepted to be created. Click to read more on:
- Sihem Amer-Yahia (CNRS, University of Grenoble Alpes, France) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihem_Amer-Yahia
- Geraldine Fitzpatrick (TU-Wien, Austria) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Fitzpatrick
- Dita Přikrylová (Czechitas, Czech Republic) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dita_P%C5%99ikrylov%C3%A1
Join the ACM-W Europe Communications and Outreach Team
We are always on the lookout for new talent to join our communications team. You will be part of a dynamic volunteer team passionately working to disseminate information of interest to our community. The team publishes monthly newsletters, regular blog posts, and promotes relevant gender issues in computing and celebrates community success in social media (Facebook, and Twitter).
You can work with us on any number of our initiatives:
- The newsletter: Interview community members, and write articles
- Social media: Help create social media campaigns; expand our reach in Linkedin.
- Website: Help maintain a dynamic website with up-to-date community news
- Blog: Write blog articles, or work with community members on blog series.
- Outreach campaigns: E.g., reach out to ACM-W chapters for regular communication series
- Wikipedia campaign: Help us create a database of women in computing in Europe and regularly draft articles for Wikipedia.
If you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief cover letter explaining why you would like to work with us.
The ACM-W 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. The scholarship exposes students to prominent researchers in their field, introduces students to new research, and excites them about doing research by themselves.
But everyone knows that with the Coronavirus Crisis we are living through, many of the Computer Science conferences are being delayed, made virtual and sometimes plainly cancelled. Everyone has had to adapt and the Scholarship Committee has decided to keep our deadlines as usual and to deal with the delays and cancellations as they arise.
Therefore, in April we will assign scholarships for the conferences officially scheduled in June and July. However, if the conferences is postponed or cancelled, the scholars will retain their scholarships for the same conference, or another later conference. In both cases, the scholar must inform the ACM-W Scholarship committee. Moreover, in the latter case, the ACM-W committee will decide if the other conference is suitable. In any case, the scholarship will not be lost.
If you’ve read our last newsletter we may have seen that we were planning some questionnaires to help us improve the communication with our readers and the distribution of the scholarship awards. Given the severity of the coronavirus situation and the need for all of us to survive quarantine and all it implies, these plans are on hold for the time being.
We hope all of you and your loved ones are healthy and well. We will get through this together, hopefully stronger and fairer in the long run!!
For more information and to apply visit: https://women.acm.org/scholarships/.
To see previous winners’ reports on their conference trips visit https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/?sch_year=2019.
The next application deadline is June 15 for conferences taking place in Aug 1 – Sep 30, 2020.
If you have any questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair Prof. Viviana Bono, at email@example.com.
Visit and follow us online!
As we ramp up our regional committee, we are anxious to start sharing news and activities of many women in computing across North America. We will highlight more in our next newsletter. In the meantime, our website has launched! You can now learn more about our work at ACM-W North America and keep up to date by visiting us at https://acmwnorthamerica.acm.org/.
We have also started our new social media platforms to help promote and celebrate the many fantastic women in computing! Follow us on Facebook (@ACMWNorthAmerica) and Twitter (@acmwnorthameric).
Are you ready for a new way to Celebrate? While the ACM-W community was able to see two Celebrations in February, by mid-March many current and upcoming Celebrations were canceled. However, one adventurous organizer for the Women in Computing Celebrations at University of Minnesota Duluth (MinneWIC), Arshia Khan (Associate Professor of Computer Science), decided to launch the first virtual Celebrations in North America.
“We were scheduled to have a 1.5-day conference on March 20th and 21st. March 20th was our TensorFlow workshop, while the conference was on March 21st, ” says Khan, who also serves as chair of the Women in Computing committee.
“This was our second year hosting this conference, and I did not want to cancel it since it is very beneficial to our students. We had the first event (Undergraduate Research Workshop), where students worked with faculty mentors on various research projects. The conference culminated these projects with students presenting their research,” she continued. “We had to make sure the students’ almost yearlong work was acknowledged.”
This Celebration was held on Saturday, March 21st, with a welcome address from Dr. Wendy Reed followed by the keynote speaker, Katherine Rasley.
|UMD WiC Celebrations |
Saturday, March 21st
8:30am Welcome: Dr. Wendy Reed
8:45am Keynote Speaker: Katherine Rasley
10:00am Research Workshop: Dr. Alexis Elder
11:00am Graduate Program Panel
12:00pm Industry Panel
1:00pm Poster Presentations
2:00pm Lightning Talks
Khan said that the virtual Celebrations went very well, with 55 participants of the 98 originally registered. “The panels, keynote, and research presentations were very well received. I received several emails after the event commenting on how informational this conference was.”
The Regional Celebrations 2020 of the Association for Computing Machinery – Women’s Council (ACM-W India) was held at Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna, on 13th March 2020. The Annual mega-event was jointly organised by ACM, ACM-W, Padre Conceicao College of Engineering (PCCE), Indian Institute of Technology-Goa (IIT-Goa) and Goa University.
Ms. Revati Majumdhar, the Executive Director of Goa Electronics Limited, was the ChiefGuest for the Inaugural function. Rev. Fr. Anthony Castelo, Director of Agnel Technical Education Complex welcomed the delegates to the Campus. Ms. Maria D’Souza Chaudhary, Treasurer of ACM India, spoke about the purpose and initiatives of ACM. Also present on the dais were Dr. Mahesh Parappagoudar, Principal of PCCE, Dr. Sudhakshina Dutta, representing IIT-Goa, Assoc. Prof. Ramrao Wagh, representing Goa University and Ms. Razia de Loyola Furtado e Sardinha, Convenor of the event. Program Chairs Mr. Siddesh Sawant spoke aboutthe day’s eventsand Ms. Cassandra Fernandes proposed the vote ofthanks.
The theme chosen for the celebration was “Security Technology”. Mr. Riyaz Waliker, Head of Security Research Team at Appsecco, Bengaluru, was the Keynote Speaker. Also hosted were the ACM-India National-level Prototype Presentation Competition and ACM-India National-level Poster Presentation Competition. Over 30 teams from colleges across India submitted their proposals on “Technology for Women Safety”. The Prototype Presentations were judged by Mr. Ryan Pinto, Director of Innovantix Systems Private Limited, Goa, Ms. Akshata Raikar, Team Lead at PSL Goa and Mr. Riyaz Walikar. The Poster Presentationswere judged by Mr. Madhav Rangannekar, COO of S J Innovations and Ms. Maria D’Souza Chaudhary of Oracle Systems.
The highlight of the event was an entertaining and insightful panel discussion by eminent women technocrats Dr. Veena Thenkanidiyoor, Dean at NIT-Goa, Prof. Anusha Pai, Head of Computer Engineering, PCCE, Dr. Kavita Asnani, Asst. Professor at GEC, Ms. Maria Chaudhary, MTS at Oracle Systems, Dr. Sudakshina Dutta and Dr. Poonulakshmi V. K.,Asst. Professors at IIT-Goa, Ms. Lourdes Soares, Founder of SabrCare, Goa and Ms. Nadisha Kamat, Product Owner at Odessa-Bengaluru. The animated panel discussion on the topic“Does Gender Impact Technology” was moderated by Ms. Razia de Loyola Furtado e Sardinha, Asst. Professor, PCCE.