Report on ACM W Winter School for Women on Natural Language Processing

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DA-IICT with ACM-W hosted an ACM Winter School on Natural Language Processing during 4 January to 14 January 2021. The 10 days’ winter school was coordinated by Dr. Prasenjit Majumder and had 47 women undergraduate and postgraduate students as participants. Following the norms, it was an online school held via Zoom, a web-based video conferencing tool.

Professors engaged in the research in the NLP domain came forward to share their ideas and conduct sessions. Day 1 started with an introduction of Natural Language Processing, given by Prof. Prasenjit Majumder from DA-IICT, the session continued with Prof. Tathagata Bandyopadhyay from IIMA, demonstrating the requirement of Mathematics in NLP.

On days 2 and 3, Prof. Tanmoy Chakraborty from IIITD, explained Language Modelling and Parsing concepts. Day 4 began with Prof. Mandar Mitra, from ISI Kolkata revealing the notions about Information Retrieval and ended with Prof. Suman Mitra, from DA-IICT describing the role of Word Embeddings.

Machine Translation sessions were taken by Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharyya, from IITB on days 5 and 7. Prof. Prasenjit Majumder discussed the topic of Social Media Analysis. Prof. Sriparna Saha from IIT Patna conducted the session on Information Extraction and Dialogue Management on days 6 and 8. On Day 9, Dr. Parth Mehta discussed Text Summarization.

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Apart from the theoretical discussions, each day had a hands-on session on the topic that had been discussed in the school. Participants were provided with materials as well as with the assignments that they had to submit. Day 10, was wrapped up with three projects and a short quiz. The projects and assignments were given to the participants to demonstrate the application of NLP and to give them in-depth clarity about the theoretical aspects that they had learned in the school.

Virtual ACM Celebrations of Women in Computing

It has been a whole year since the pandemic suddenly changed our lives. Uncertainty has been the major obstacle hindering us from making plans. We never lost our hopes for a brighter future and the additional responsibilities that came with the pandemic kept us busier than ever. Vaccinations starting around the globe are helping to keep our hopes at the same level. All activities requiring mobility either turned out to be organized online or postponed to an unknown date. It looks like the war against COVID19 is going to continue. Until everybody feels safe, online events will continue. For those who have not lost their hopes but would like to stay on the safe side we want to share our suggestions for virtual celebrations. 

Although it is not like in-person events there are advantages of virtual events like capacity, cost, and flexibility. ACM-W may schedule Zoom Meeting and Webinar platforms as the schedule permits.

If you are in one of the ACM-W regions, notice that each region has specific instructions besides the one included in this document. Make sure to check that information in your region’s website, which includes contact persons. As of March 2021 ACM-W Regional Committees are Asia Pacific, Europe, India and  North America. For celebrations organized from these regions applications will be made as explained on the website. Applications from other regions will be evaluated by ACM-W Regional Activities team. 

If you are planning to organize a virtual ACM Celebration of Women in Computing please check with your regional ACM-W celebrations committee and get prepared to answer the questions in their application form. For each celebration a page will be reserved on the related ACM-W website. The celebration organizers choose the official language(s) of the celebration to reach out to more participants.

For applications to ACM-W Regional Activities Team use the Virtual Celebration Application Form and submit at least 3 months before the proposed celebration date. In order to complete this form you will need to have to indicate total expected expenses in US Dollars and explain the major expense items. You can find a template for preparing a budget for your virtual celebration here.

Approval process and sharing the results will take no longer than two weeks.  Please contact ACM-W Regional Activities Chair in case you do not hear at the end of two weeks.

Minimum requirements for an event to be funded (please note that if you do not comply with these requirements, funding will not be granted):

  • The event must be at least one day in length (preferably two half days)
  • The event must be branded as an “ACM Celebration of Women in Computing” event in the event’s title or as a subtitle.  
  • Registrants must be drawn from several chapters, institutions, regions. The number of registrants is an important information for evaluating the application. 
  • Events should loosely follow the Celebration model; keynotes, panel sessions, speakers, student presentations, poster sessions, hackathon, career fair etc. 
  • A summary of the event suitable for inclusion in ACM-W media channels must be provided at the end of the event to ACM-W Communications Chair, who can be found on ACM-W Contact Information page.

An Interview with Bushra Anjum, ACM-W Standing Committees Co-Chair

What is your vision for the new ACM-W webinar series “Celebrating Technology Leaders”?

Some of ACM-W’s most successful events and panels in the past (chapters, celebrations, etc.) were focused on career advice, especially non-academic careers (industry, research labs, government, non-profit, etc.). However, the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19 has halted such meaningful events. Furthermore, stories and survey responses from our members tell us that younger professionals want to hear from people with non-traditional career routes, moving between research labs, academia, industry, government, or non-profits. These needs became the motivating factor as I proposed a new initiative to the ACM-W global leadership, a web series “Celebrating Technology Leaders.” The idea is to bring stories and advice from engaging speakers, with diverse careers in computing, directly to our global audience. I am truly grateful that my proposal received approval and support not only from the ACM-W leadership but also from the ACM Education and Professional Development, and ACM Marketing. I would also like to acknowledge our partners CRA-WP and NCWIT, who recently came on board to help spread the word and increase the efficacy and reach of this ACM-W initiative.

It is my privilege to drive this project and serve as a host for Celebrating Technology Leaders.

Session 1: The bond between academia and industry

What will the attendees gain by attending the Celebrating Technology Leaders sessions? 

We have designed the series so students and early career professionals can expand their horizons, learn about the multitude of career options available, and make informed choices about the next step in their professional journeys. At the same time, staying true to the ACM-W mission, we aim to celebrate women in computing. Thus in each episode, I invite women in computing who have excelled in their careers for an online panel discussion. We feature panelists from all career levels in research, industry, government, and non-profits. During the one hour conversation, we highlight their journeys, share inspiring stories, and learn what it takes to succeed in their career of choice.  

While choosing our panelists, we emphasize the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of the panelists so that our discussion is applicable and relatable to a wide variety of listeners. The series is geared towards students and early-career professionals, and we’re hoping to provide valuable experiences for anyone considering switching their career path in a technical direction. For example, our earliest panels have discussed the bond between academia and industry (Session 1), experiences in entrepreneurship (Session 2), opportunities in the growing world of User Experience / User Interfaces (Session 3), and most recently, the career opportunities in Data (Session 4).

Session 3: Growing opportunities in the world of UI/UX

Where can we find more information on Celebrating Technology Leaders, and the future sessions?

The series is free and open for public viewership. We organize one session every 6 to 8 weeks. Each session features a 45-minute discussion followed by a 15-minute interactive Q&A session. You can view our past sessions on YouTube.

Additional details can be found on our webpage. We will also be announcing our future sessions.

If you have any suggestions on topics and speakers, please do reach out to me at https://www.bushraanjum.info/contact

Bushra Anjum, ACM-W Standing Committees Co-Chair