Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day.  In some countries, the entire month of March is designated as Women’s History Month.  In ACM-W, we celebrate, support and advocate for women in computing year-round.  But at this time of the year, we are especially reminded of the hard work and sacrifices of so many women over the years to ensure that women’s rights and opportunities continue to advance.  Each of us, on an individual level, likely has one or more women who have played a vital role in our lives.  I encourage all ACM-W supporters to take a few moments to send a note of thanks to those women who helped you achieve your personal and professional goals.

I personally want to thank the champions of ACM-W – the multitude of volunteers who lead student and professional chapters, plan Celebrations, and serve on ACM-W committees worldwide.  I particularly want to thank those on our ACM-W Leadership Team – Bushra Anjum, Reyyan Ayfer, Bettina Bair, Valerie Barr, Amelia Cole, Arati Dixit, Sarah McRoberts, Pat Ryan, and Yuqing Melanie Wu.   ACM-W would not be able to pursue its goals without your dedicated service.  I feel honored to work alongside you.

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

Jodi Tims
ACM-W Chair

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.

ACM-W Europe Report

womENcourage 2021: Preparing for Prague

womENcourage 2021 is to be held in Prague, Czech Republic. The slogan of the event this year is “Bridging Communities to Foster Innovation”. In an increasingly technology-driven world and a rapidly changing economic environment, the field of computing cannot reach its full innovation and creativity potential if formed of homogeneous expertise, represented unevenly only by a fraction of the population. To foster innovation, we shall stop compartmentalising scientific progress by disciplines and encourage innovation across boundaries.

The community behind the scenes of womENcourage 2021 conference, is Czechitas. This Czech non-profit organisation emerged in 2014 to empower and encourage girls and women to engage in computing education or career transition. Czechitas strives to demonstrate that tech is an exciting career direction that is not necessarily difficult nor, more importantly, limited to one gender. Initially established to provide female students in the Czech Republic with an opportunity to put their hands on programming, it now aims at achieving a significant social change. Find out more about Czechitas.

ACM recognizes two European Women as Fellow and Distinguished Member

In January 2021, ACM recognised Prof. Olga Sorkine-Hornung (ETH Zurich) as Fellow for contributions to digital geometry processing, computer animation, computer graphics and visual computing. On the last days of December 2020, Prof. Maribel Fernandez (King’s College London) as a Distinguished Member for Outstanding Contributions to Computing. We congratulate them for their brilliant work and being outstanding role models to all women working in Computing.

We caught up with Prof. Maribel Fernandez in January. Her research interests include programming languages, models of computation and security.  She develops tools for the specification, analysis and verification of complex systems (e.g., biochemical systems, financial systems, programming languages, software applications).

“I find it fascinating that there are so many different ways of understanding computation. In addition to the classical models of computation which gave rise to the current computer architectures, there are new models of computation inspired by biochemical processes, by agent interactions, by quantum mechanics.”

Read about her brilliant career on our blog.

ACM-W Europe blog

We are delighted to host guests on ACM-W Europe blog, and this quarter we had fantastic contributions.

Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes – Toni Collis As a community, we embrace our diversity; diversity makes us better, stronger. We cannot do enough to applaud all of our heroes in their diversity.  They are people who are ACM members, volunteers or experts in their field.  Starting from June 2020, we have reached out to several heroes about their tech career journey, about their perspective on intersectionality and reflect on initiatives for equality. Our December guest was  Dr Toni Collis,  the CEO of Collis-Holmes Innovations, a Strategic Innovation Leader, Trainer, Consultant and Leadership Coach for women in tech Toni’s career has focused on facilitating the use of technology, with a particular emphasis on parallel computing and supercomputers, for the advancement of research and innovation in both academia and industry. Early on in her career, Toni realised that knowledge was not the only barrier to the uptake of parallel computing in research, but culture limited the participation of women and minorities. As Founder of Women in High-Performance Computing (WHPC), Toni developed and led innovations to diversify the HPC workforce, providing HPC tutorials for women academics and students worldwide, training and consultancy on building inclusive workforces, and research into how to improve the representation of women. Read more from Toni on our blog.

Blog Series: Telling our Stories Each year we meet wonderful women at womENcourage. This year was no different, and in the rest of the year, we will have womENcourage participants telling their stories in blog posts.

 Viviana Bastidas December 2020 postwas by Viviana Bastidas, a PhD Student at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland, and a Lero member—the Irish Software Research Centre, Limerick, Ireland. Viviana wrote about her experience attending the “Social Networks Analysis: Theory and Practice” workshop, given by Dr Deniza Alieva and Gulnoza Usmonova. “ I would like to invite other students to participate in the next versions of ACM womENcourage. We must support each other and continue to encourage other women to develop their careers in computing. We have many opportunities to change small or big things in society, and computing helps us to find solutions to do so.”

Marjana Prifti Skenduli January 2021 post was written with passion for STEM is by Marjana Prifti Skenduli, a full-time lecturer of Computer Science and a Computer Science PhD candidate at the University of New York Tirana (UNYT). “I define myself as an enthusiastic Computer Science educator and a passionate Information Technology professional, who takes great pride in being a mother to two wonderful daughters. Perhaps I am a lucky person, for being able to combine my daily job with my passion and translate it into a bold mission: that of getting people of all ages and backgrounds excited about the immense possibilities of STEM education.” Read more from Marjana on our blog.

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

Each month we feature a member of the ACM-W leadership team. This month’s feature comes from Bushra Anjum, Standing Committees Co-Chair, with an interview about her involvement with Celebrating Technology Leaders, a webinar project of her own creation.  Bushra is a software engineer at Amazon, San Luis Obispo and doximity, San Francisco County. Bushra was part of the inaugural inductees of ACM’s Future of Computing Academy and brings her enthusiastic spirit to bear in numerous volunteer efforts on behalf of women and girls in computing.  You can learn more about Bushra’s impact at bushraanjum.info.

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

Jodi Tims
ACM-W Chair

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

News from the ACM-W Scholarships Committee

The pandemic has caused many small and not so small changes in everyone’s life. We know that women are being disproportionately affected by it. From Nature (Women are most affected by pandemics — lessons from past outbreaks https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02006-z) to the BBC (Why this recession disproportionately affects women https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201021-why-this-recession-disproportionately-affects-women) and the New York Times (Pandemic Will ‘Take Our Women 10 Years Back’ in the Workplace https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/26/world/covid-women-childcare-equality.html) it is clear to scientists and social media commentators alike that women are not faring well in this “shecession”, as some are calling this mostly female recession.

Particularly in Academia things are not going very well for women.

As Nature again reported in  April 2020 (The pandemic and the female academic https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01135-9) someone researcher tweeted “The next person who tweets about how productive Isaac Newton was while working from home gets my three-year-old posted to them!”. But trying to laugh about it has its limitations.

We would like to point out to our readers that most of the important conferences in Computing are going ahead online and that many charge fees. Some of  these fees have been reduced for online meetings, but they are not negligible. We had hoped that reduced fees would allow us in the Scholarship Committee to spread further our funds and pay for many more students to attend conferences. But given the situations described above, the women are not applying for these funds. Thus this is a heads-up and a reminder: Please apply to go to conferences! 

You do not have to have a paper to present at the conference you want to attend. Attending high-quality conferences online might not be as great as visiting the places and talking face-to-face with the important researchers in the field, but it’s actually still extremely helpful, both in terms of knowing where the field is going and of making yourself known to the research comunity you’d like to be part of. Try your best to submit papers too, because writing is like exercising: the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Lastly and most importantly, please don’t post the 3-year old!

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 next application deadline is February 15 for conferences taking place April 1 – May 31, 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

Hoping that you’re all safe and sound in these complicated times of covid-19 and wishing us all a happier New Year!

5th ACM-W India National Level Virtual Hackathon 2020

19th -20th December, 2020                                                                            

5th ACM-W India National Level Virtual Hackathon 2020 started with an ideology to support and motivate the girl students in the field of Computer Science. Initially, it was supposed to be in offline mode but the pandemic situation brought new challenges to overcome and it was finally decided that it will happen in online mode. This event was successfully hosted by ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad. In this virtual hackathon there were three rounds. First was the idea selection round where the teams from all over India were asked to present their ideas/solution for a problem based on the given theme of ‘SELF RELIANT INDIA’ with various domains such as Healthcare, Education, Finance, Agricultural and Social Innovation. The entries for this round were initially accepted from 1st October 2020 to 25th October 2020 and due to the popular demand, the deadline was extended to 30th October 2020. For the first round more than 75 entries we received.  From which only 20 teams were shortlisted for the 2nd round which was the interview round. In this round the selected teams had to explain their idea/project to a panel of judges from which 10 teams were supposed to be selected pan India. This round was organised on 22nd November,2020 and for this round we had 16 judges from the various industries, different ACM chapters and from ACM Student chapter and ACM-W student chapter of ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad.

On 19th December 2020, the final round started with the inaugural ceremony which was addressed by Mr. Chandrashekhar Sahasrabuddhe (COO, ACM India) followed by Dr. Heena Timani (Chairperson, ACM-W India), Dr. Shailesh Tiwari (Director, ABESEC) and Dr. Pankaj K. Sharma (Head, CS Department, Faculty sponsor ACM ABES Chapter). This inauguration ceremony was concluded by Ms. Madhuri Gupta, Faculty Coordinator, ACM-W ABESEC Chapter followed by a vote of thanks by Ms. Sanika Singh. Finally, the hackathon began with the selected top 10 teams.

Glimpse of Virtual Inaugural Function of Hackathon

They were asked to develop a solution on a problem statement that was allotted to them on 19th December 2020. Problem statement of hackathon are listed below.

On the same day, there were two mentoring sessions for each team, to help them with the problem statement followed by one evaluation session on the same day. For refreshment purpose a cultural program was even organised on 19th December 2020.  After continues coding for 24 hours the teams were ready with their project. By the end of the hackathon i.e. on 20th DECEMBER 2020 teams were supposed to submit a 3min video illustration of their project and after that a final evaluation was conducted with panel of reputed judges.

Glimpse of Presentation by participants of Hackathon
Glimpse of valedictory ceremony and prize distribution of Hackathon

The valedictory ceremony was initiated by Ms Ritika Malik, Faculty Sponsor of ACM-W ABESEC student Chapter with a small briefing of the entire event. Hackathon winners were announced by Dr. Heena Timani, Chairperson ACM-W India.

1st Prize:   ₹ 24,000                     Team Leader  Ms.Sakshi Singh College: K.I.E.T Ghaziabad Project Title: Spam SMS Filtering    2nd Prize: ₹ 15,000 Team Leader Ms. Ruchika Sharan College: IIT Mandi Project Title: A system for detection of corona virus in human body using artificial intelligence  3rd Prize: ₹ 12,000 Team Leader Ms. Sanjana Jain College: ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad Project Title: System for prescribing drug in hospitals and it’s substitute availability in the medical shops of the area/city

Which was followed by address by Mr.Chandrashekhar Sahasrabudhe, COO, ACM India and a vote of thanks by Ms. Sanika Singh, Asst. Professor, ABESEC Ghaziabad, marked the end of hackathon.

CSTA Expands Focus on CS Equity

Following the success of the inaugural cohort, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has expanded their CSTA Equity Fellowship program to include 15 fellows who have demonstrated success in disrupting inequities in K-12 computer science and want to improve equitable access and achievement at a broader scale. These 15 fellows, selected from 131 applicants, have a combined 150 years of K-12 teaching experience, including 80 years teaching computer science, and represent 11 states and provinces. 

This year-long program will provide leadership development opportunities to fellows and identify opportunities for the group to develop ongoing, peer-to-peer professional learning experience focused on addressing issues of equity in the computer science classrooms for CSTA members.

To compliment the flash talks, projects and CSTA Voice articles developed by the inaugural cohort, this year’s Fellows will be: 

  • Collaboratively authoring a book on equity-based practices in K-12 CS education
  • Developing three online workshops, focused on Anti-racist/CR PD, Curriculum Development PD and Supporting School- and District-Wide Solutions 
  • Creating a multimedia website and podcast, and 
  • Planning CSTA’s first Equity in Action Summit 

The Equity in Action Summit, set for March 6, is a one-day virtual event that brings together K-12 CS teachers to call out inequities of access and achievement in marginalized groups and to share strategies and resources to empower and equip teachers in addressing the digital divide. Registration is now open! Please join us and share with K-12 teachers that may be interested in attending.

womENcourage 2020 Took Place Online, 24-27th September

In September, we all gathered virtually at ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan for the ACM womENcourage 2020, more than 200 registered participants from some 40 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas and Australia.  Dr Araz Yusubov, Dean of the School of IT and Engineering, ADA University, led this year’s organization, and he thanks all the participants for their active participation and meaningful contribution to the first-ever virtual womENcourage celebration.

The ACM-W Europe Chair, Ruth Lennon wrote:

“Moving from in-person to virtual conferences is hard. How do you engage people with the program? Have a dedicated team constantly texting in chat windows? have a live ‘networking session’ that runs 12 hours a day? I think the most important thing is to have an engaging program and amicable people willing to meet. Keynotes, company representatives, organisers and all attendees willing to contribute to the discussion. These past 4 days were a great success. It is not often that I get to say how much fun I had working with an organising committee. The photo really is a good image to represent a year well spent. I have to thank Araz Yusubov, Bev Bachmayer, Rukiye Altin, Adriana Wilde and Nuria Castell. ACM-W Europe Thank you ADA University for hosting womENcourage 2020. I look forward to The ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage 2021!”

ACM womENcourage 2021 will go to Prague, the Czech Republic next year. We are already excited! The event will be chaired by Dita Přikrylová, founder of Czechitas, is due to be held in September. Plans for both in-person and virtual formats are being organised so that we are ready for whatever happens.  In 2021 womENcourage we hope to encourage bridging communities. Computing impacts the lives of so many people more so now than ever before and the conference will explore the many aspects of computing and how it touches our lives.

ACM-W Europe 2020 blog

We are delighted to host guests on ACM-W Europe blog, and this quarter we had fantastic contributions.

Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes – Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein Catherine D’Ignazio (MIT) and Lauren F. Klein(Emory) wrote for us “How to Teach Data Science like an Intersectional Feminist”, was adapted from their book, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020). “Women faculty comprise less than a third of computer science and statistics faculty. More than 80% of artificial intelligence professors are men. This gender imbalance, and the narrowness of vision that results, is compounded by the fact that data science is often framed as an abstract and technical pursuit. Steps like cleaning and wrangling data are presented as solely technical conundrums; there is less discussion of the social context, ethics, values, or politics of data.” Read more on our blog.

Kharkiv ACM-W Chapter – Science and Technology Empower Women Oleksandra Yeremenko,  a professor of V.V. Popovskyy Department of Infocommunication Engineering at Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics, Ukraine, shares with us their story of starting the Kharkiv Information & Communication Technologies ACM-W Chapter. “The ACM-W community allows us to break down the boundaries and destroy the myths and stereotypes that exist in society about women in science and technology.”

Blog Series: Telling our Stories – Rahma Mukta Each year we meet wonderful women at womENcourage. This year was no different, and in the rest of the year, we will have womENcourage participants telling their stories in blog posts. We start with Rahma Mukta, from University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, Australia. She is a second-year PhD student in Computer Science and Engineering. She works on blockchain security and anonymous credential systems.   “My second-year [in the PhD program] started with the challenge of quarantined life due to COVID-19. In this new normal, for the very first time, I got the chance to introduce myself to the ACM womENcourage conference 2020. The conference was my first ever experience to join an online event to present my work.”  

Updates on 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 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 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, with their pictures can be found now at https://women.acm.org/scholars/acm-w-scholars/.

This month, almost nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with many conferences postponed, cancelled or transformed into online events, fewer people are submitting applications. Thus, we decided that this was a convenient time to write about our Scholarship Committee, some about our origins, and motivations, some about the people that keep it running.

We first had short inteviews with the Chairs of the Scholarship Committee, professors Elaine Weyuker and Viviana Bono, in previous editions of the newsletter. But it also seemed appropriate to ask the members of our committee about their personal histories. Of course, as you may have noticed yourself,  working from home has not made life easier for researchers and professors. Everyone who teaches  has had to adapt to the new conditions. For many, this has proved a very difficult journey to digital teaching, without any time for learning or preparation. Still, everyone in academia is l trying to cope with the new reality of the pandemic as best as they can, and we are not an exception.

This seems a good time to tell you a bit about why we run the Scholarship Committee the way we do and also a bit about the stories of the people behind the scenes. And we’re glad to start off with a  researcher who was an alumna of the program herself, only a few years back. Yelena Mejova is a Senior Research Scientist at the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy, a part of the Digital Epidemiology Group. Her research concerns the use of social media in health informatics, as well as tracking political speech and other cultural phenomena.

1. Could you tell us briefly how your career has been so far (your background, your motivation to engage with computing, your initial research, your intellectual influences)?

I received a PhD in Computer Science at The University of Iowa in 2012 and since then worked as a postdoc at Yahoo! Research in Barcelona, as researcher at Qatar Computing Research Institute in Qatar, and now as a senior research scientist at the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy. It is an amazing time to be in this area, since the notion of “data science” was being born right as I was doing my PhD, and now there are actual graduate programs in it! During my studies, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my interest in sociology can be combined with the computing methods I was learning, in something that is now defined as “computational social science”. Now, my research involves studying phenomena ranging from political debates and elections to medical misinformation and news, all through the lenses of big data available on social media. Throughout, I have realized that it is not easy to do social science using quantitative means, as is expertly described by Duncan Watts in `Everything Is Obvious’, and this idea now is central for my thinking even about everyday life. I am skeptical about “common wisdom”, and I’m always looking out for truly robust, experimental ways to verify causal (and even correlational) hypotheses about people. These days as social media become even more important in public opinion formation, understanding the mechanisms of belief, group think, bias, etc. is an exciting field of research.

2. Did you experience any special difficulties as a woman? If so, could you tell us about it? If not, what would you attribute this rare situation to?

I am glad to report that I did not experience any special difficulties that I can attribute to being a woman. In universities, even though I was a minority (and in 10% when doing PhD), I never felt alienated, I had a female advisor, had female classmates, and even when I didn’t, it didn’t bother me. I never felt discriminated against or left out of important meetings. I have noticed that teams working on computational social science tend to be more gender balanced (just see attendance of, for instance, ICWSM, CSCW, CHI, IC2S2, etc). I have also been outspoken whenever I felt something needed to be done and did not hesitate to approach my superiors to get it done (for instance, at my current position I am pushing for investment in a backup server, and formalization of rules around smart working). It also may be because as a child I grew up in Russia (until 9th grade), where gender differences in STEM did not seem to be drastic or in the culture. 

3. What were and are your main research interests? What is your main research focus at the moment?

At the moment, my research interests revolve around how people understand health-related information, and how that affects their behavior. For instance, I’m interested in how pro- and anti-vaccination sentiment is being expressed online, whether two sides communicate (or are in “echo chambers”), and what information they use to support their stances. I am looking to see whether dangerous diets and home remedies have sprung up around COVID lockdowns when people may be more desperate for solutions in uncertain times. Finally, I am looking into whether women express experiencing different hardships during these lockdowns than men, in an effort to see whether there are unmet needs both in health access, and in socio-economic matters. Much of this research revolves around social media — a resource that is becoming more and more important (something I couldn’t have predicted 8 years ago when I used it for my PhD).

4. Would you like to see any changes in your sphere of work? Could you tell us which one or which?

As a member of ACM, and as an academic, it would be great if there were more resources about how to plan for, seek out, and apply for funding. As this is an important way that a researcher builds their line of research, makes connections, and makes an impact that is beyond an individual’s work (no matter how productive one person may be). I have always felt that funding depended too much on “who you know” (network, wasta, etc), and often knowledge of funding opportunities or collaborations are passed along established lines of power. Especially for women breaking into male-dominated areas, this could be a real difficulty and obstacle to career development. I hope this can be addressed by the community.

Many thanks Yelena for sharing your ideas and enthusiasm!

We hope all of you and yours are healthy and well!

The next application deadline is December 15 for conferences taking place February 1st—March 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

Despite at times feeling like we are at a standstill in 2020, we are excited to see that four new ACM-W Student Chapters have formed. This recognition that needs still remain for women to support other women in the field of computing is important. Since we are starting to hear more and more that the pandemic has impacted women more than men, we can think of no better way to support women at this critical juncture than now.

We are delighted to be able to highlight six women in computing in this newsletter. These women are from various sectors, including a high school student, Lillian Peterson, who won the prestigious ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize, and Saiph Savage, the co-director of the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) Civic Innovation Lab and one of MIT’s 2018 35 Innovators Under 35.

We’ve also recently launched our newest subcommittee, the Empowerment of Marginalized Communities Subcommittee. This team is forming in order to specifically address the unique needs of those who do not identify as men and who face additional challenges placed on them within the culture of the computing community. Through this subcommittee, we will work to ensure all of our services are meaningful and relevant to all women in our community.

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), forming student chapters or advocating for marginalized groups, we would love to hear from you. Reach us at acm-w-na@volunteer.acm.org.

New Chapters

Welcome to the four newest ACM-W Student Chapters, including one from Mexico! Say hello to:

  • Universidad Panamericana ACM-W Student Chapter in Mexico City, Mexico with shout outs to Sarahi Aguilar Gonzalez, inaugural chair, and faculty sponsor Dr. Lourdes Martinez Martinez.
  • Christian Brothers University (CBU) ACM-W Student Chapter in Tennessee, USA, with shout outs to Wendy Almendares, inaugural chair, and faculty sponsor Dr. James McGuffee.
  • University of New Orleans ACM-W Student Chapter in Louisiana, USA, with shout outs to Huong Nguyen, inaugural chair, and faculty sponsor Dr. Farjana Z Eishita.
  • California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) ACM-W Student Chapter in California, USA, with shout outs to Mariana K Duarte, inaugural chair, and faculty sponsor Dr. Chandrika Satyavolu.

Thank you all for your time and commitment supporting women studying computing.

ACM Celebrations in North America

We are now accepting registration for Celebrations in North America. Visit this link to complete the registration form. Additional information relevant to 2020-21 Celebrations (including virtual Celebrations) is available here.

ACM-W North America Profiles

We have recently interviewed six women in North America:

Saiph Savage
  • Saiph Savage. Saiph is one of MIT’s 2018 Latin American Innovators Under 35, talked about how she got into computing, her work studying the intersection between tech and activism, and what work she’s most excited about right now. Her interviews are recorded in both English and Spanish.
Lillian Petersen
  • Lillian Petersen. Lillian is a young researcher and the winner of the 2019-20 of the ACM/CSTA Cutler Bell Prize for creating a tool to help aid organizations increase food security in sub-Saharan Africa. She has been doing a research project every year since 7th grade on topics ranging from predicting weather patterns to studying cancer.
Clara Yuan
  • Clara Yuan. Clara Yuan is a senior research science lead at Convoy Inc, a digital freight network startup. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech. She has a bright intensity that she brings to everything from the world of transportation to her dog, Donut.
Sydney O’Connor
  • Sydney O’Connor. Sydney O’Connor, a fifth year student at the University Of Cincinnati and president of the school’s ACM-W chapter talks about her path to computing, her inspirations, firmware development, and why it’s important to find community in computing.
Karina Mariela Figueroa Mora
  • Karina Figueroa. Dr. Karina Mariela Figueroa Mora is a professor and researcher in the Physical-Mathematical Science Department of Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. She’s focused in the study of algorithms, information retrieval, metric databases, as well as software development for math education. Her interviews are recorded in both English and Spanish.
Mary Baker
  • Mary Baker. Working in 3D print is the first time Mary has been able to apply programming, design, mathematics, and artistic license all at once. She talks about her experiences in this interview.

Eight Unexpected Ways to Connect with ACM-W

https://women.acm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/fb-profile-pic.jpg?246bcc&246bcc

by Bettina Bair, ACM-W Communications co-Chair

Did you know that ACM-W has more than 40,000 ACM-W members, all over the world? I love looking at this map! It looks like we built a circuit with flashing lights, but the lights are awesome people! But without our in-person celebrations on hold, we are finding new ways to stay connected. We believe in supporting, advocating and celebrating women in computing, across the whole circuit, even when we can’t see your face.

What’s new in your world?

Personally, my morning routine involves checking email, checking my newsfeeds and finishes with Facebook. (I know. I’m not immune to Facebook struggles, but apparently I have minimum daily requirement of outrage, sunsets, and kitten photos.)

ACM-W is posting updates on all of these media channels

If you want to keep up with what’s happening with ACM-W, you have choices. It’s just like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  1. Facebook: ACM-W, Chapters, Celebrations for announcements and stories
  2. LinkedIn for career tips and discussion
  3. Twitter for announcements and chat
  4. YouTube for recorded webinars, workshops and more
  5. Check out student chapters near you. They may have their own newsletter, Twitter and Instagram.
  6. Say Hello at our virtual event booth
  7. Subscribe to the email Newsletter
  8. Follow our blog via RSS

How about you? Tell us where you are!

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    Lets get together soon. I miss your face.