ACM India Celebration of Women in Computing AICWiC 2020

 A Virtual Event – 5th September, 2020- Report

ACM India celebration of women in computing –a virtual event was organized by ACM-W India, ACM Nagpur Professional Chapter in association with ACM Nagpur Student Chapter  of Yeshwantrao Chavan College of Engineering, Nagpur, Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management, Nagpur, Priyadarshini College of Engineering, Nagpur and Persistent Systems Ltd. on 5th September,2020 under the theme “Covid 19: Innovation in IT” . The inaugural ceremony started by Dr. Mukta Paliwal Technical Expert of Persistent Systems. Due to the current pandemic, the event was organized in virtual mode on the online platform zoom webinar.

She introduced the ACMW India, described recent events held and how the organization has played a vital role in motivating the women including professionals, researchers and students in technology. She mentioned how the tech industry has collectively demonstrated remarkable leadership in responding to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic while explaining about the theme of the event.

Main objective of AICWiC 2020 was to provide an explicit platform for women in technology to showcase their innovation and ideas and motivate others to take up the challenge and help the nation in becoming Independent technologically during these tough times.

She introduced Dr Heena Timani, ACM W India Council Chair, Data Scientist, Co-Founder, Director iAnanya Datalytix Pvt. Ltd. to deliver the welcome address and as a session chair for the keynote speech. As this event being the flagship event under ACM celebration women in computing Dr. Heena envisioned and heilighted the entire operational and key benefits of ACM-w membership and took the opportunity to brief about past events and upcoming events going to be held under the canopy of ACM India. She took initiative to provide the platform for women to showcase their talent and insisted on numerous opportunities for women scholars to grab several scholarships to the candidates under ACM-w India Chapter. She has always been a key inspiration to all young technocrats and actively involved in supporting and organizing computing events for women in India under ACM-Women Council.

Dr. Heena welcomed Prof. Reyyan Ayfer, Vice-Chair, ACM-W & Professor, Bikent University, Turkey for the keynote address. She contributed her expertise to international committees, most notably as a council member of ACM Europe and as the Founding Chair of ACM Women in Computing Europe Committee as well as leading a community of students who have formed the first international ACM-W Student Chapter. She is now serving for women in computing as the chair of Regional Activities of ACM-W. She received the Anita Borg Change Agent Award in 2008 after serving as the ACM-W Ambassador of Turkey for 8 years.

Dr. Reyyan delivered a keynote on “Changes, Challenges, Opportunities” and she began with saying that Our lives changed suddenly when the novel coronavirus spread throughout the world. We faced many challenges both in our personal and professional lives. Are there any opportunities in this especially for women in computing? She discussed some of the success tips and strategies for the budding innovators. Her address was mainly based on how COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives and meanwhile impacted the opportunities for the students.

Prof. Devishree Naidu, session chair of second keynote introduce Dr. Jaya Sreevalsan Nair from IIIT Bangalore. She leads the Graphics-Visualization-Computing Lab and is one of the core team members of the E-Health Research Centre at IIITB. Her research interests in data visualization, scientific computing, computer graphics, and computational geometry. She has projected many data modeling concepts for visualizations and identified appropriate visualizations for complex datasets in data science workflow. The most interesting research that includes semantic classification of LiDAR point clouds, spatial and statistical analysis of population surveys, automated data extraction from chart images, community detection in biological and brain networks, and virtual world reconstruction of traffic scenes from monocular images. She has been supported by grants from SERB, DST, GoK, Intel, IBM, to name a few. She is an ACM member and IEEE Senior member. Her keynote specifically brought attention to “Data Dissemination during COVID-19: The Rise of Visualizations” in which she discussed the significance of data dissemination techniques discovered during the present COVID-19 scenario and tools used by computer scientists to make a lay-man understand complex facts and figures. She elaborated about 5 V’s Velocity, Veracity, Volume, Variety and Value of data. She also made all aware about Florence Nightingale as a data science who was also a pioneer in data visualization with infographics effectively used for graphical presentations of statistical data. Dr.Jaya discussed some of the research that took place at Karnataka region for showing statistics of Covid-19 and explored about the tools with additional futuristic which opened an eye for key research in the field of data science.

A panel discussion was organized during AICWiC2020 on theme ”Innovation Opportunities for New Normal during Pandemic”.A panel was moderated by Dr. Lipika Dey, Principal Scientist at the TCS Research and Innovation Labs. , faculty at the Department of Mathematics at IIT Delhi. (till 2007).The panelist were Dr. Maya Ingle, Director,DDU-Kaushal Kendra at DAVV Indore, Mrs. Rachna Patrikar,Senior Manager-Enterprise application and emerging technologies, Mahindra and Mahindra),Dr.Manik Gupta, Assistant Professor at BITS Pilani Mrs. Vandana Gupta, Director at  Multivirt India Pvt Ltd & FNN Media Pvt Ltd ,28 years of experience in IT industry.

The Panel discussion started with a poll as a quick activity. The poll was conducted to know the experiences of the participants about Innovations during Covid-19 pandemic. After the poll chairperson of the panel Dr Nita Thakare welcomed all and briefed about the objective of panel discussion. She welcomed and introduced moderator of the panel Dr Lipika Dey. Dr Lipika Dey introduced the panel members and panel discussion was divided in to three phases. In the first phase all panel members have shared their experiences about the current scenario of innovations and their thought on the opportunities for IT innovations during covid pandemic. They discussed the Innovation Opportunities for New Normal during Pandemic in brief.

Moderator of panel Dr Lipika introduced panelist and coordinating with panel members. Dr Maya Ingle talked about the role of IT in education sector. She also discussed about the reasons for change in education methodologies and the opportunities for the educationalist and researchers during COVID 19 pandemic. Also she shared some examples on how practices changed from Offline classes to Online Classes. Mrs Rachana Patrikar ,discussed about current situation of Covid 19 pandemic and its effect on lifestyle of people also she talked on increase in usage of online market and online transaction. Dr Manik Gupta talked about latest technologies being used in innovations. She also discussed,how online platforms are helpful in pandemic and how blessed it is to share our knowledge with the community through virtual conference. Dr Vandana Gupta presented various products developed by her company to cater the pandemic situation.

She also discussed about innovations opportunities during Pandemic and motivated the participants to implement innovative ideas. During question – answer session, the Moderator Dr Lipika asked questions on behalf of the participants to panel members. The participants benefited by the answers of experts. The session ended with the concluding remark by Dr. Deveshree Naidu.

Poster Presentation Competition was part of Virtual Event for celebration of Women in Computing by ACM India. The competition was specially organized for UG/PG girl students of CS/CE and IT branches to boost innovative ideas. There were total three round in poser presentation competition. Education , Health care, Environment / Ecosystem / Waste  Management , Age of Sustainable Development (Sustainable Cities and Communities) themes were decided for poster presentation competition. We received maximum posters in Health Care domain. We got good response  from various reputed institutes of India, total 105 teams registered for poster presentation competition.

These groups were divided into 6 Teams of judges for evaluation and selection purpose. From this 24 teams were selected for second Skype interview round. Total 6 posters were selected for presentation in the final round during event.

Dr. Gauri Dhopavkar, Head, Department of Computer Technology, Yeshwantrao Chavan College of Engineering, Nagpur hosted the finale round of poster presentation competition on 5th September 2020 .Dr. Heena Timani, Chairperson, ACM-W, India, Dr. Rituparna Chaki, Professor, A K Choudhury School of IT, University of Calcutta, Dr. Tejaswini Apte,ACM-W Pune Professional Chapter Chair and ACM-W India council member, Mr. Darshan Kansara, Senior Consultant with Anblicks, Ahmedabad, were the judges for the finale. 

During finale round, each finalists’ posters and videos explaining the detailed concept was presented to all audience. This round was followed by question/answer session to the poster presenters by judges. Out of 105 groups registered for this competition, 6 groups were shortlisted for finale round. Cash prizes were sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services.1st Prize: Rs.16,000, 2nd Prize: Rs.12, 000,3rd Prize: Rs. 8,000

A result of the virtual poster presentation was declared by Dr.Heena Timani. Below is the list of poster presentation winners

RankName of StudentProject TitleInstitute Name
1Soundarya KrishnanNetwork Community Analysis based enhancement of Online Discussion forumsBITS Pilani, Goa Campus
2Sona STechnovid 2020Thiagarajar College of Engineering,Madurai
3Shradha SehgalSab Jeevika: Enabling job search for the deprived sectorInternational Institute of Information Technology. Hyderabad

In concluding remarks Dr.Heena Timnai thanked organizing team Dr. Devishree Rohit Naidu, Asst. Prof. ,Shri Ramdeobaba College of     Engineering and Management,Dr. Gauri Dhopavkar , HoD, Yeshwantrao Chavhan, College of Engineering, Nagpur,Dr. Mukta Paliwal ,Technical Expert -Data Science, Persistent Systems Nagpur,Dr. Nita Thakare, Associate Prof. and Head, DCT, Priyadarshini College of Engineering, Nagpur,Dr. Swati Hira, Asst. Prof., Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management, Nagpur,Mr. Vinit Kapoor ,Chief Architect, Persistent Systems Nagpur and Dr. Rutvi Shah Assistant Porf at Chimanbhai  Patel Institute  of Computer Applictions.           She also thanked the poster prizes sponsors Tata Consultancy Services and Platinum partners of ACM Google, Persistent, Icertis.Mr. Chandrashekhar Sahasrabudhe,COO, ACM India congratulated team for their successful smooth completion of virtual event using Zoom Webinar.

Dr. Mukta Paliwal thanked to  Keynote speakers, Panelists, ACM India, ACM W India  and ACM International office bearers Various sponsors, Partner Industries, Partnering institutes, Participating institutes, Committee members, Evaluators/Judges, Students who took part in poster competition, Finalists, the Organizing team & all those who are directly or indirectly involved in the organization of this event. Everyone agree 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.

Spotlight on ACM-W Professional Chapters

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. Our chapters around the world organize conferences, hack-a-thons, fundraisers, lecture series, community service, and networking events that gather together local students and IT professionals. Learn about these activities through two interviews with ACM-W Chapters who have offered to share their experiences.

Interview with Bonja Milasinovic, Belgrade ACM-W Professional Chapter

Why did you decide to form an ACM-W Professional Chapter?

Thanks to Reyyan Ayfer we found out about ACM and the opportunities for local communities.  Because we were already dealing with the topic of women in tech on local level, forming ACM-W chapter opened a new door to us. Through chapter we could connect more people from local community to ACM activities. 

When did you get your chapter charter?

It was in 2016. after the conference Women in Tech held in Brussels. 

What projects are you working on?

Enter: ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing is a two-day conference held in Belgrade. We have held this student-centered conference twice with about 500 attendees per event. We are planning to continue with similar events, focusing more on practical work than on classic lectures.  A hands-on approach seems to be more popular and useful to participants, so we would love to continue our work in that direction. 

Photo: Belgrade ACM-W Professional Chapter Committee.
Photo: Enter: ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.

What connections do you have with students?

We are in contact with several different student groups. Most of our programs are designed for them so we are trying to meet their needs by helping them on their way through professional challenges. 

What benefits do the members of your chapter gain?

We try to connect members with other IT people (especially successful women from local IT community) so they can build a strong social network.  Additionally, members can learn from women in the local IT community through different workshops about soft skills and technical skills. We also keep members informed about all ACM-W benefits.  Most importantly, we listen to the problems they are facing in the professional world and note the skills they need and create programs to help them to adjust. 

 Photo: Hands on activities with local professionals.

Where do you see your chapter in five years from now?

We hope that at some point we can pass the chapter activities to some young and motivated people who will be willing to carry on with the activities and fresh new ideas.

What suggestions or feedback for any groups looking to start their own chapter?

Go for it! 🙂 It can be very useful experience, leading you to the great people and great output of all successfully done activities. 

Interview with Panagiota Fatourou, Greek ACM-W Professional Chapter

Why did you decide to form an ACM-W Professional Chapter?

Our motivation to form an ACM-W Professional Chapter in Greece stems from the need to enhance and advocate gender balance in computer-related scientific fields and professional sectors in Greece.

Based on 2014 Eurostat data, women are strongly under-represented in computer-related studies in most European countries, including Greece. Specifically, 80% or more of the students enrolled in computer-related study programs are men. Unfortunately, this trend seems to be persistent as these statistics have not been observed to improve the last several years. In parallel, Greece (and Europe) under-utilize women scientists in research and innovation, as well as in leadership positions, while women’s participation in the digital labour market decreases with age (the “leaky pipeline” phenomenon).

Action is necessary to discover, understand, and defeat the glass ceilings with the goal of addressing any form of gender imbalance in scientific leadership and decision-making processes, and ensuring a fair development of outstanding career paths with no barriers and misconceptions for both men and women in the digital sector. The Greek ACM-W Chapter aims at contributing in this direction by promoting gender-equal access to computer-related scientific frontiers, encouraging and educating women and men in an equal way to achieve their professional goals and utilize their potential in digital professions, and celebrating and disseminating the achievements of computer professionals, women and men, in a fair and gender-equal way.

When did you get your chapter charter?

The Greek ACM-W was chartered on July 2, 2018.

Photo: Greet ACM-W Professional Chapter committee chairs: Georgia Koutrika (Treasurer), Panagiota Fatourou (Chair), Maria Roussou (Vice Chair)

What strengths does your chapter have?

The main strength of the Greek ACM-W Chapter is its member base. Our founding members number more than 40 women covering diverse domains of computer science and engineering. Our members work primarily in academia and research institutions from all over Greece and abroad; however, Chapter membership working in the computing industry is also increasing. The Chapter’s overall member base has exceeded 190 individuals of all genders, in less than two years since its establishment (including most women professors working at Computer Science (CS) related Departments in all Greek Universities).

Can you tell me a little more about what projects you have been working on?

Photo: Founding and new members of the Greek ACM-W Chapter.

In the almost two years of its operation, the Greek ACM-W has succeeded in mobilizing a considerable number of women and men to become members of the chapter; establishing its online web and social media presence; and organizing events.

The Greek ACM-W chapter’s website (https://acmw-gr.acm.org) was launched in the first few months after the establishment of the chapter. The website aims to maintain a dynamic nature; it is being systematically updated with news regarding our activities and our members as well as resources, especially relevant reports and papers (https://acmw-gr.acm.org/index.php/en/resources/reports-papers). We have also created a YouTube (https://tinyurl.com/y2hresdk) and Flickr (https://tinyurl.com/ybrl3mfq) channels for storing more audiovisual resources. Most notably, our YouTube channel includes video documentation of all of the talks and sessions of our major event. In parallel, we update our Twitter https://twitter.com/GreekAcm and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8721327/) spaces with the help of student volunteer members of our chapter.

Our first major event was the 1st Summit on Gender Equality in Computing, on June 7, 2019 in Athens, Greece. The GEC 2019 brought together students, researchers and professionals in the field of Computer Science. It was attended by 121 participants, of whom almost half were students. The program featured a) four keynote talks, b) a poster track including a flash talks session, c) several industry talks, d) a career development track, and e) a panel of women with distinctions and women in senior technical positions. Participants were inspired by the talks and activities that took place during the Summit, and enjoyed the offered opportunities for networking and sharing experiences. See https://tinyurl.com/y7w54urk and  https://gec19.athenarc.gr/.

We are also in the process of establishing the following working groups, and collecting our members expressions of interest, indicating in which groups they would like to participate and contribute to:

  • Celebrations and Events   
  • Networking and Connecting   
  • Raising Awareness and Dissemination
  • Sponsoring Programme   
  • Computer Science and Education prior to the University    
  • Support during the University Studies    
  • Mentoring and Role Models Program
  • Assessment and Evaluation   

Following the big success of GEC 2019, we are currently organizing the 2nd Summit on Gender Equality in Computing, which will take place on June 12, 2020, as an online event (due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

We also plan to carry out a variety of mentoring initiatives and Summer Schools, as well as a seminar series focusing on gender equality issues in education, research and innovation.

Finally, we hope to formalize our chapter’s procedures, e.g. management structures for the different working groups, and chapter events so that these can be streamlined and sustainable across the different leadership boards that will assume responsibilities in the future.

Photo: Prof. Geraldine Fitzpatrick during her keynote speech at the GEC 2019 Summit in Athens, June 7, 2019.
Photo: Snapshots from the poster session and flash talks at the GEC 2019 Summit in Athens, June 7, 2019.

What connections do you have with university students? What activities do you do?

A large number of our members are academics and, through this network, the Chapter has a strong connection with university students. In the planning of our first event, the GEC 2019, we ensured that students would be active participants and thus held a poster session especially for students and young researchers. Through a peer-reviewed process, 35 abstracts were selected and presented via flash talks and a dedicated poster session.

The Chapter has established a working group especially for supporting University students and will continue in this direction. Another working group is devoted on providing mentoring and coming up with a pool of role models.

What connections do you have with K-12 students? What activities do you do?

The Chapter has so far participated in the 1st Summer School in Computer Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (WiSTEM ’19), organized for high-school students in Heraklion, Crete, and with a presentation in “Youthtopia”, a non-formal youth group’s event for the International Day for Women in Science.

The Chapter has established a working group for K-12 and activities will pick up its action in the near future as we plan for summer schools and other activities for the K-12 target group.

What involvement do you have with local ACM events, chapters and initiatives?

As a Chapter, we collaborate with other local chapters, such as the ACM-W Student Chapter AUTH, with which we co-organised an event in Thessaloniki and the Greek ACM SIGCHI Professional chapter, as well as other ACM initiatives (e.g. with presentations at the ACM Summer Schools on Data Science 2018, 2019).

At a broader, regional and international scale, members of our Chapter are actively engaged with womENcourage and participate in Committees of ACM-Women Europe. Most notably, a members’ team poster was among the ten best posters (out of more than 70) selected at womENcourage 2019.

Photo: Maria Roussou (Vice Chair) presenting the Greek ACM-W Chapter at the ACM Summer School on Data Science 2019.

What professional, social, support benefits are gained for the members of your chapter?

The Greek ACM-W Chapter aims to create a community in Greece and has succeeded so far in providing networking opportunities to its members.

Our members can gain awareness about the CS-related issues through our newsletters, our website news, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We have been very active in informing our members about initiatives and events in Greece and abroad. We provide access to scientific papers, studies and other resources on our website, all talks given at the GEC 2019 are available on our YouTube channel.

Furthermore, our members’ achievements are promoted through our website and social media channels.

Where do you see your chapter in five years from now?

We aspire to continue expanding our member base, so that five years from now, the Greek ACM-W Chapter will have established a critical mass or active and engaged members, and a presence that can truly make an impact. We hope that the various working groups will have gained ground to organize their own activities, and contribute to a decentralization of the Chapter’s activities in order to spread impact across different parts of Greece.

What suggestions do you have for groups looking to start their own chapter?

Our 22 months of experience since establishing the ACM-W Chapter have highlighted the importance of motivation and transparency. Our suggestions, in a nutshell, include:

  • to be clear about your vision and goals from the outset,
  • to convene a small but active team that will work together as a core team to realize the vision and goals,
  • to become familiar with all the resources that are out there and are available through ACM, and to leverage these resources,
  • to be prepared for a lot of hard but very rewarding work!

Supporting, Celebrating, and Advocating for Women in Computing

We recognize the work of our ACM-W professional chapters and are grateful for the work they do to ensure women thrive in the tech industry:

  • ACM-W UK Chapter
  • Ankara ACM-W Chapter
  • Azerbaijan ACM-W Chapter
  • Belgrade ACM-W Chapter
  • Cyprus ACM-W Chapter
  • Delhi ACM-W Chapter
  • Greek ACM-W Chapter
  • Northwest Ohio ACM-W Chapter
  • Inhambane ACM-W Chapter
  • Jamshoro ACM-W Chapter
  • OCWiC ACM-W Chapter
  • Pune ACM-W Chapter
  • Tallinn ACM-W Chapter
  • Windhoek ACM-W Chapter

We also welcome our newest chapters and are excited to see what they will do:

  • Chennai ACM-W Chapter
  • Hibernia ACM-W Chapter
  • Kharkiv Information & Communication Technologies ACM-W Chapter
  • Trondheim ACM-W Chapter

Won’t you consider starting an ACM-W Professional Chapter near you?  See the ACM-W website for more information: https://women.acm.org/acm-w-professional-chapters/

Not ready to start a chapter but want to get involved?  ACM-W is looking for people to help support the professional chapters. If you have a few hours a month to donate to a worthy cause, please contact Rachelle Kristof Hippler (rhippler@bw.edu) to find out how you can help.

New from ACM-W Europe

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:

  1. Volunteering with our Working Groups. Let’s make a change to ensure that we have greater diversity in our leadership roles
  2. Blogs/Diversity Heroes. Is there someone you would like to see featured? Suggest someone for one of our series.
  3. Wikipedia. We need to highlight more women in computing. Let’s work together to highlight another role model! Who would you choose?
  4. 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/

Bolanle Ojokoh

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.

Masshuda Glencross

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.

Amani Boughalmi

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/

ACM-W Scholarship for Attendance of Research Conferences 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, bono@di.unito.it

ACM-W North America News

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.

Monica

Volunteers Needed

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 acm-w-na@volunteer.acm.org.

New Chapters

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.

Read more here: https://acmwnorthamerica.acm.org/2020/08/03/acm-w-na-profiles-erica-smith/

ACM W India Grad Cohort Workshop 2020 Report- A Virtual Event

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.


Greetings from the ACMW Communications Co-Chairs: Bettina Bair and Sarah McRoberts

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

Bettina Bair, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

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.

Sarah McRoberts, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

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.

Interview about ACM-W Scholarships

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.

Viviana Bono, Chair, ACM-W Scholarships

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!

ACM-W Scholarship for Attendance of Research Conferences

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, bono@di.unito.it

Standing Committees Chairs’ Report – June 2020

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).

Scholarships Committee

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)

NextGen Committee

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.

ACM-W Europe June 2020 Report

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

Ruth Lennon
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:

  1. Sihem Amer-Yahia (CNRS, University of Grenoble Alpes, France) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihem_Amer-Yahia
  2. Geraldine Fitzpatrick (TU-Wien, Austria) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Fitzpatrick
  3. 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:

  1. The newsletter: Interview community members, and write articles
  2. Social media: Help create social media campaigns;  expand our reach in Linkedin.
  3. Website: Help maintain a dynamic website with up-to-date community news
  4. Blog: Write blog articles, or work with community members on blog series. 
  5. Outreach campaigns: E.g., reach out to ACM-W chapters for regular communication series
  6. 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 acm_w_europe_outreach@acm.org  with a brief cover letter explaining why you would like to work with us.

acm-w logo ACM-W Scholarship for Attendance of Research Conferences

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 bono@di.unito.it.