Above and Beyond Scholarship – Hsiu-Chin Lin

Hsiu-Chin Lin profile photo

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: 2008

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Country of residence at the time of receiving the ACM-W Scholarship: USA

Hsiu-Chin Lin is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University. Her research spans model-based control, optimization, and machine learning for manipulators and quadruped robots. She is an associate editor of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robotics. She is also the program co-chair for the 19th and 20th Conferences on Robots and Vision.

What has been a highlight of attending the conference (utilizing the ACM-W Scholarship)?

The ACM-W scholarship sponsored my first international conference when I was an undergraduate student. As an undergraduate student, a research career was an unknown world to me. The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to experience a real conference and a chance to interact with researchers who are interested in the same topics.

How did attending the ACM-W-sponsored conference impact your career?

I was the first person in my family to receive higher education, and I was very lost while navigating my career path. I was not aware that there were scholarships and fellowships available, and I once believed that going to graduate school was a privilege for rich families. I was very lucky to meet Prof. Colleen van Lent and Prof. Darin Goldstein at California State University. They encouraged me to apply for scholarships and graduate schools, including the ACM-W Scholarship.

Attending an ACM-W-sponsored conference helped me realize that the financial situation of my family does not determine what I can do for my studies. It certainly helped me decide that I wanted to go to graduate school immediately after my bachelor’s degree. It’s been almost 15 years since I received the ACM-W Scholarship. I am still very grateful for this opportunity. Without it, I might have been on a completely different career path.

Hsiu-Chin Lin Social Profile

What has been your career highlight? What are you most proud of?

I came from a very traditional and conservative town. Growing up, I was repeatedly told that women are not capable of doing science and technology and women should focus on their biological duty. I followed what was taught as a child and as a teenager. I discovered programming when I was in high school (by chance) and became determined to study computer science. My formal education did not prepare me well for universities, certainly not in STEM. I slowly filled those gaps along the way and eventually found myself in robotics and machine learning research. I am proud of my decision and my persistence. I
haven’t regretted my decision since.

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

Being a minority is not easy in any professional career. This certainly adds more hurdles on top of an already stressful job. I call this a challenge because it is out of my control. I can work harder to get a difficult task done, but I cannot easily alter how someone perceives another race or another gender. Throughout my career journey, I have had a few unfortunate encounters that almost pushed me away from this career. Thanks to my stubbornness, I am still here, and my challenges have become my driving force to be a better and stronger person.

Anything else you would like to share with us that we can highlight about your

My career path has been an emotional roller-coaster; it has a lot of highs and lows. I can recall many occasions that were full of joy and excitement that I got from my work or my studies; I can also remember days of depression, frustrations, or anger, being overwhelmed by every single aspect of my life. Success and failure are both normal parts of the job. Learning from failure and criticism is as valuable as any successful experience. I hope this will set an example for future generations.

Hsiu-Chin Lin - Career Path

Communications Committee Leadership Opportunity

Apply by August 15, 2023

The ACM-W Communications Committee is seeking nominations for a Co-Chair. Initial terms for the positions will begin Sep 1st, 2023 and extend until Sept 30th, 2025.  You will be joining an active team of volunteers (see our Contact page).

Please read the position description carefully to evaluate whether you or someone you know would be a good fit.

Qualifications for leadership positions in ACM-W include:

  • Membership in ACM and ACM-W
  • Familiarity with the ACM-W program
  • Previous leadership experience in volunteer organizations
  • Self-motivated, reliable and skilled

To (self-)nominate for any of these positions, please complete this application form before August 15, 2023. 

Spotlight on Trondheim ACM-W Professional Chapter

Dr. Letizia Jaccheri

ACM-W would like to spotlight the Trondheim ACM-W Professional Chapter this month through an interview with Dr. Letizia Jaccheri. Dr. Jaccheri is a Professor at the Department of Computer Science at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the General Co-chair of WomenENcourage 2023.

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

One researcher, who was working as postdoc at my university in 2019, challenged me to start the chapter. She is Zacharoula Papamitsiou now working at SINTEF (https://www.sintef.no/alle-ansatte/ansatt/xara.papamitsiou/) Zacharoula knew the work of the Greek chapter and suggested we should start here. The Trondheim ACM-W Professional Chapter was chartered in 2019.

What strengths does your chapter have?

Our strength is that Norway is the country in Europe which is doing best when it comes to increase number of female students in computing. A recent report by Informatics Europe supports this statement. At our university we have the ADA project, running since 1997 which has been a pioneer and very successful project.


Where do you see your chapter five years from now?

When I started to focus on gender and computing not only for students but in the pipeline from PhD to professor, I was alone. Now we are a team of people and I see that in 5 years we will be 5 times as many.

Part of the chapter team, who traveled together to Cyprus for the ACM womENcourage. They also proposed the Trondheim conference 2023.

What projects are you working on?

  1. IDUN (https://www.ntnu.edu/idun) This project received 1M Euro funding and the central measure in this project was the employment of nine female adjunct professors, at least one at each of the seven institutes of the faculty. IDUN provided training for these professors to become role models and mentors for 3-5 mentees each.
Dr. Letizia Jaccheri presenting IDUN

Several smaller projects that led to IDUN:

  1. Several iterations of Kodeløypa (https://www.ntnu.no/skolelab/kodeloypa) programming for children. More than 100 children participate to the workshop each year since 2015. E.g.,  
    Papavlasopoulou, S., Giannakos, M. N., & Jaccheri, L. (2019). Exploring children’s learning experience in constructionism-based coding activities through design-based research. Computers in Human Behavior99, 415-427.
  2. EUGAIN CA19122 (https://eugain.eu/) with 150 participants.
  3. Craft (https://www.ntnu.edu/smartcities/craft) – which is about inclusion and climate change.
  4. SENOBR (https://www.ntnu.edu/idi/senobr) – which is about software engineering with activities about intersectionality.
  5. Women Stem Up (https://women-stem-up.eu) – which is about gender inclusion in STEM education

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

We have connections with the ADA project (https://www.ntnu.edu/ada) and we also supervise master students who do research about gender and computing – see several examples here: https://sbs.idi.ntnu.no/master.

What involvement do you have with ACM-W Celebrations near you?

Dr Jaccheri presenting ACM activities to the students and employees together with a student Alis Wiken Wilson (now working in IT industry)

We will organize WomenENcourage in 2023. We have participated in WomenENcourage 2022 and in 2021 we organized a local physical event when it was virtual from Praha.

What benefits do the members of your chapter gain from your connections?

— We connect students to research and we share our industry partners.

— Our events are also open to students. We are present to the annual event that the department organizes for students.

— We are attracting sponsors for our ACM WomENcourage 2023 (https://womencourage.acm.org/2023/)

Do you have any suggestions or feedback for groups looking to start a chapter?

My suggestion is to start and to look at other successful chapters. For example we started by looking at the Greek chapter, as mentioned in the beginning. Another suggestion is that, when dealing with volunteering work like this, you should always remember to thank the people who help and are engaged and you try to inspire people. You should look for your successor from the beginning. I am so happy that Alicia Julia Wilson Takaoka is taking over. It is called ACM-Women Trondheim Chapter not Letizia’s chapter.

ACM-W Professional Chapters empower local voices for change with the backing of a worldwide organisation. Professional chapters work with student chapters and industry leaders to advocate for equity and diversity in the tech industry. Our chapters worldwide organize conferences, hack-a-thons, fundraisers, lecture series, community service, and networking events that gather together local students and IT professionals. To learn more about these activities, please stay tuned to more interviews with ACM-W chapter leaders throughout the year! For more information about ACM-W Professional Chapters, contact the Chair of ACM-W Global Professional Chapters, Rachelle Kristof Hippler (rhippler@bw.edu).

ACM-W Rising Star Award Recipient: Dr Manya Ghobadi

Dr Manya Ghobadi
ACM-W Rising Star Award Recipient

ACM-W would like to announce Dr. Manya Ghobadi as this year’s recipient of the ACM-W Rising Star Award! The ACM-W Rising Star Award recognizes a woman whose early-career research has had a significant impact on the computing discipline.

Dr Manya is currently an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department.

Congratulations on winning the ACM Women Rising Star Award. Can you tell us about your journey in the field of computer science and technology? What inspired you to pursue this field, and what challenges did you face along the way?

Thank you for the warm congratulations on receiving the ACM Women Rising Star Award. I’m deeply honored and humbled by this recognition. My journey in computer science and technology began during my undergraduate studies at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, where I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. It was during this time that I developed a strong passion for technology, driven by the potential of using computation to make a positive impact on society.

My inspiration to delve further into the field came during my graduate studies at the University of Victoria and later at the University of Toronto, where I had the opportunity to research and explore my interests in congestion control and data center networks. These fields, coupled with my fascination for hardware-software co-design, optical networks, and network optimization, have shaped my career and research trajectory.

As I moved through my academic and professional career, I faced several challenges. Adapting to new work environments and cultures, such as during my time at Google and Microsoft Research, presented its own unique challenges. These experiences, however, helped me grow and learn the importance of perseverance, resilience, and embracing diversity.

In my current role at MIT, I continue to focus on my research interests, including networks for machine learning. I hope to contribute to the development of cutting-edge technologies that will revolutionize how we compute, communicate, and solve complex problems.

You initially spent some time in the industry at Microsoft Research and Google before taking up a position at MIT. What prompted you to make the switch from industry to academia? How easy/difficult is it to make the switch?

At both Microsoft Research and Google, I had the privilege of working with some of the brightest minds in the industry. My time there provided me with invaluable insights and hands-on experience, and I learned a lot about cutting-edge technologies and research methodologies. However, as fulfilling as my work in the industry was, I realized that I deeply missed the joy of working with students and contributing to their growth and development.

I always had a passion for mentoring and sharing knowledge, and academia provided the perfect opportunity to combine that passion with my research interests. The decision to transition from industry to academia was driven by my desire to contribute to the development of the next generation of computer scientists and engineers, fostering a collaborative environment where students could learn and grow.

In terms of the ease of making the switch, I would say it depends on the individual and their specific goals and circumstances. For me, the transition was relatively smooth, as I was able to leverage my industry experience and research background to devise next-generation solutions. Moreover, the skills and knowledge I gained in the industry were highly applicable to my new role in academia, and I found that I could effectively use my experiences to guide my research and teaching endeavors.

According to you, what are the most pressing problems in Computer Networks today? How do you think your research is making a difference in addressing these problems, and what impact do you hope it will have?

The most pressing problems in computer networks today are the increasing demand for efficient network infrastructures that can support the growing complexity and scale of new applications, such as machine learning, video calls, telepresence, augmented reality, and healthcare. As these applications evolve, there is an urgent need for scalable, cost-effective networks that provide high bandwidth, low end-to-end latency, and high availability, while minimizing energy consumption.

My research is focused on addressing these challenges by developing next-generation systems for emerging applications. A key aspect of my work involves enabling physical-layer reconfigurability in modern networks to achieve high throughput, low latency, and fast recovery from failures. Utilizing advanced hardware, such as optical devices, I develop network architectures, algorithms, and protocols to optimize resource use, energy consumption, and high availability.

For instance, the ever-growing demand for machine learning-based services has led to a steady increase in the dataset and model sizes of deep neural networks. Although specialized hardware accelerators and software stacks have provided significant speed-up in compute capabilities, large-scale deep neural network models still require enormous computational resources and consume substantial amounts of energy. The overarching goal of my work is to build fast, efficient, and sustainable machine learning-centric systems.

By addressing the challenges posed by the growing complexity and scale of contemporary applications, I hope that my research will provide a foundation for the real-world deployment of dynamically reconfigurable networks. This will enable better support for machine learning applications, improve the performance of network-based services, and contribute to a more sustainable, energy-efficient future.

In one of your most cited papers, “OpenTCP: Rethinking end-to-end congestion control in software-defined networks,” which was written in 2012, you and your co-authors argued for the need for a congestion control adaptation mechanism in datacenter networks. How have the insights you presented in this paper changed or held up since then?

The insights presented in the OpenTCP paper have largely held up over the years, and the need for a congestion control adaptation mechanism in datacenter networks remains as relevant today as it was then. OpenTCP has helped network operators define rules for tuning TCP as a function of network and traffic conditions, leveraging the global network view available at the network controller for faster and more accurate congestion control decisions. This shift in perspective has sparked further research into developing more sophisticated and adaptable congestion control algorithms that cater to the unique requirements of modern network applications and datacenter environments.

Despite these advancements, congestion control is still not a completely solved problem. As network infrastructure continues to evolve and new applications emerge, we must remain proactive in developing innovative solutions to address the challenges of congestion control in increasingly complex environments. This includes taking into account the unique demands of emerging applications that place different strains on network resources.

For example, in a recent paper published in 2022, my group demonstrated that fair-sharing, which has long been considered the holy grail of congestion control algorithms, is not necessarily a desirable property for machine learning training clusters. We showed that for specific combinations of jobs, introducing unfairness can improve the training time for all competing jobs. This finding underscores the importance of re-evaluating traditional congestion control paradigms and designing algorithms that cater to the specific requirements of modern network applications, such as large machine learning training jobs.

Based on your experiences studying and working at esteemed academic institutions like UofT and MIT, what advice would you give to aspiring researchers looking to maximize their potential and make the most of their time in academia?

Based on my experiences, I would offer three key pieces of advice to aspiring researchers looking to maximize their potential and make the most of their time in academia:

  1. Cultivate curiosity and passion: Pursuing a research career requires genuine curiosity and passion for your chosen field. Stay open to new ideas and dive deep into subjects that truly interest you. Your enthusiasm will not only fuel your work but also inspire those around you.
  2. Embrace challenges and learn from failure: Research is often a process of trial and error. Don’t be disheartened by setbacks; instead, use them as opportunities to learn and grow. Embrace challenges and remain persistent in the pursuit of your goals.
  3. Collaborate and network: Engage with your peers and researchers from other disciplines. Collaboration often leads to novel insights and innovative solutions. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to expand your network, as these connections can lead to fruitful research partnerships and future career opportunities.

As a role model for young women in technology, how do you think we can encourage more women to pursue careers in this field?

One way to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology is by providing early exposure and education in the field. Introducing girls to technology and computer science at a young age can spark their curiosity and demonstrate the potential for creativity and innovation within the field. As they grow older, connecting them with strong female role models and mentors can offer valuable guidance, support, and inspiration, showing them the diverse range of successful women who have built careers in technology.

Creating inclusive and supportive environments is also essential. By fostering an inclusive culture within academic institutions and organizations, we can ensure that everyone has access to equal opportunities, regardless of gender. This can be achieved through policies and practices that encourage participation in networking and professional development events, which can help develop crucial connections and boost their confidence.

As I reflect on my own journey, I’m grateful for the opportunities and support I’ve received, and I’m excited to continue contributing to the advancement of technology. My hope is that, by sharing my experiences and insights, I can inspire the next generation of women in tech to break barriers and make their own lasting impact on the world.

ACM-W Region News: Europe

The 10th ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage™ 2023 is under way! This year the event is hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, 20-22 September 2023, under the theme Computing Connecting Everyone. Open to all genders.

Keynote speakers this year are:

Prof Athena Vakali

Prof. Athena Vakali, professor at the School of Informatics, Aristotle University, Greece, leading the Laboratory on Data and Web Science. Her current research interests include Data Science topics with emphasis on big data and online social networks mining and analytics, human-centric applications and sensing analytics, and on online sources of data management on the cloud, the edge and decentralized settings. Her talk at the conference will be about Quantified Self and Sensing Data Analytics.

Prof Alexander Serebrenik

Prof. Alexander Serebrenik, professor of social software engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. His research goal is to facilitate the evolution of software by taking into account the social aspects of software development. His work tends to involve theories and methods both from within computer science (e.g., theory of socio-technical coordination; methods from natural language processing, machine learning) and from outside of computer science (e.g., organisational psychology). His talk at the conference will be about Gender and Software Development.

womENcourage™ is a three-day event which includes a hackathon, workshops, tutorials, posters, technical talks, and panel discussions. Find more details here.

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Adriana Wilde, PhD

Dr Adriana Wilde

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: ICST 2013 7th International Conference on Sensing Technology​​

Country of Origin: Venezuela

Country of residence at the time of receiving the ACM-W Scholarship: United Kingdom

Dr Adriana Wilde charted a very unconventional career path over the years. Her background is multidisciplinary but with a strong dual interest in education and technology. Following her B. CompSc. (Hons) degree at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, she delivered several computer science courses at this university. She also holds several teaching qualifica/dtions from the UK, including a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education and Training. She has taught in diverse educational environments, including primary schools, further education colleges as well as universities. She has been awarded an MSc in Computer Science by the Universities of Berne, Fribourg and Neuchâtel in Switzerland (with a specialism in Distributed Systems and a minor in Education) and was a Mayflower Scholar for Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, becoming a PhD candidate and a Teaching Fellow in the same department. She was an Associate Lecturer at the University of St Andrews and then a Lecturer in Computer Science and Cyber Security at the University of Winchester, where she was promoted to Senior Lecturer. Her PhD in Computer Science allowed her to study learner engagement within peer-supported digital environments, but her broader research spans aspects of computer science education, human-computer interaction and sensing technologies. She is also a keen advocate for women in computing and is now a Lecturer in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton with the Digital Health and Biomedical Engineering research group.

What has been a highlight of attending the conference (utilizing the ACM-W Scholarship)?

The successful presentation of our research paper, “Developing a low-cost general-purpose device for the Internet of Things”, was, of course, the main highlight. This paper was the result of my first supervision of an undergraduate project during the early days of my own PhD research. On attending the conference, I was requested at short notice to chair a session (which was also the first time I had ever done so) and was commended on my timekeeping and the way I fostered discussion. The best paper of the conference was presented in this session, which made it a very memorable experience. I was able to engage in discussions with many researchers in related fields. Some of these discussions were regarding women’s participation in their own institutions, which I found interesting, and it compelled me to do more work in this space. I was then approached by the organisers to join the organisation committee for the next edition of the conference, which gave me valuable insights into event organisation, which I later put to good use.

How did attending the ACM-W-sponsored conference impact your career?

Although, eventually, the research I presented at the conference did not make it into my PhD thesis, in the big scheme of things, the experience was extremely valuable for my career. I understood the value of networking, not necessarily for short-term gains but for community-building. Also, I discovered soon enough that obtaining a PhD in a top institution would not be sufficient in a competitive job market and that I needed to do much more to distinguish myself from all the excellent people around me. A lot of the work I did alongside my research was intended to further my professional development and also towards issues of inclusivity and gender balance, many of which (I had not yet realised at the time) were real barriers to my success and many others like me. This is when I became aware of ACM-W (as I was looking for funding to attend a conference on the other side of the world to talk about my research), and became an active member of ACM-W Europe later on, attended womENcourage and then became part of the steering committee, helping to shape the direction of this initiative as a poster chair in several of its editions. I have wanted to give back, but in fact, through this journey, I actually received much more! I gained very valuable leadership experience in helping run the celebrations and collaborating with colleagues across the globe.

The scholarship experience enabled me to have my voice heard at an international venue, expanding my networks and gaining opportunities for leadership and influence. Having received such a generous scholarship and being recognised amongst stiff competition gave me renewed self-confidence in my abilities as a researcher at a crucial time in my professional development. It also made me sensitised to the need to “pay forward” and help other early career researchers, which I have been able to do through my active participation in ACM-W Europe.

What has been your career highlight? What are you most proud of?

This is a very difficult question. My ACM-W leadership badge is certainly one of the things I am very proud of. It was a lovely recognition of the work I had put in over the years as part of an incredibly amazing team, supporting, advocating, and celebrating women in computing.

Still, one of the things I am most proud of is to have been able to complete my PhD, even if it had to be part-time, taking me longer than I had originally wished for. However, I was able to do so whilst teaching in top CS departments (first through my teaching scholarship, then as a full-time member of academic staff) and also having to navigate through serious health and personal issues. These were difficult times that made me resilient as I developed my capacity to overcome challenges. I must confess, however, that I am even prouder of the success of the students I have supervised during my career, who continue to give me plenty of career highlights to reflect on! A memorable example was my mentoring of a new lecturer who had been my student at a previous institution and then joined mine to become my colleague.

If I may add one source of pride to me, I would say it is my recent return to my Alma Mater on a balanced pathway. Having more time for research feels quite a luxury, having spent most of my working life in teaching-intensive roles. I am very much looking forward to making new contributions to digital health and biomedical engineering as part of my new role.

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

There are still many challenges both in accessing opportunities for professional development in the field and in retaining talent. At a personal level, the two-body problem is one that I experienced, and it is far more common than is widely recognised. The expectation that early-career academics should be ready to uproot themselves and their lives (partners, children, life!) is sadly too widespread. Still, there are rewards given to institutions taking steps towards true inclusivity and diversity, some of them explicit (such as incentives from funding streams), but others are not immediately obvious in the short term. Unfortunately, over the years, I have been witness to (and experienced first-hand too) some unpleasant side-effects of less diverse working environments, and it is difficult to stand up against these. I am very fortunate that I have an excellent working environment now, where inherent to our department’s culture is to be supportive of one another, with room to develop and grow.

What would you recommend to young people thinking of a career in computing?

This is an exciting time to jump into it, as it is increasingly becoming a broad church in that there is something for all, and you should be able to find something interesting to work towards and make contributions in.

So my first piece of advice is to work on dispelling any unfounded myths around computing and all the preconceptions you may have about it. Study maths, though (even if you may or may not apply them in your day-to-day, depending on what area of computing you end up developing your career in). And be curious! Continue to be curious.

Welcome to our new ACM-W Scholarships Committee Chair!

Dr Marjana Prifti Skenduli
ACM-W Scholarships Committee Chair

Dr Marjana Prifti Skenduli is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of New York Tirana, Albania. She received her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Tirana in 2005. Subsequently, she earned a dual degree in Computer Science from the University of New York in Tirana in collaboration with the University of Greenwich, UK. She completed her PhD
in Computer Science from the University of New York Tirana in 2021.

Marjana’s research interests lie primarily in the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) domain spanning Natural Language Processing, Pattern Recognition and Data Mining. She has been the recipient of several scholarships and grants from globally acclaimed institutions such as Google LLC., Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, Heidelberg Laureate Forum, Amii, and CIFAR. In addition to her contributions to the field of computer science, Marjana is also deeply committed to promoting inclusivity and equity in computing. Through her volunteer engagements as the EU CODEWEEK Ambassador and WiDS Ambassador for Albania, she has become a tireless and articulate champion, fully committed to instilling enthusiasm among individuals of all ages and backgrounds about the vast prospects of a career in computer science.

Apart from her professional pursuits, Marjana takes pleasure in immersing herself in literary
worlds and exploring the beauty of nature with her family.

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Dilrukshi Gamage, PhD

Dilrukshi Gamage is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Tokyo Institute of Technology

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: ​​ICCE (International Conference on Computers in Education) 2014 Nara, Japan

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

Country of residence at the time of receiving the ACM-W Scholarship: Sri Lanka

Dr Dilrukshi Gamage is a postdoctoral fellow at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) working on a multidisciplinary infodemic project funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (CREST JST). Her research primarily intersects with Computational Social Science and Human-Computer Interactions. She is a core member advocating and promoting HCI activities in South Asia. She has extensive research experience working with multiple collaborative projects around the world and also serves in leading roles in many professional bodies such as IEEE and ACM. She is on the program committee of many top-tier HCI conferences such as ACM CHI, CSCW, and UIST. Dilrukshi has been awarded numerous fellowships and awards during her PhD such as being recognized as a Future Digileader at the Digitalize in Stockholm, Sweden 2020, Rising Stars by the UC Berkeley, USA 2020, Young Researcher at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, Germany 2017, and recipient of competitive fellowships such as Google WTM, Anita B. Org Grace Hopper Conference scholarship. ACM SIGCHI Gary Marsden Scholarship, ACM-W scholarship, IEEE Women in Engineering scholarships, and many more.

What has been a highlight of attending the conference (utilizing the ACM-W Scholarship)?

It was my first ever scholarship. Pursuing my PhD.in Sri Lanka, I thought I would never be able to travel and take part in any of my dream conferences. But ACW-W made my dream come true; it was my first conference as a PhD student, and I made a lot of connections through the conference. Thereafter, I received many other scholarships, but receiving that first, as breaking the ice is much harder. I am so thankful for the ACM-W recognition and the value and opportunity given to underrepresented women in tech.

How did attending the ACM-W-sponsored conference impact your career?

The recognition from the professional body ACM made me stand out from others. It certainly added value to my profile.

What has been your career highlight? What are you most proud of?

I am most proud to be selecting the academic path as my career. It was not an easy decision, but I found my passion in doing research, teaching and mentoring young students. I am super proud of achieving many recognitions for empowering young female students throughout my career.

Dilrukshi with her family

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

Sometimes, it has been challenging for me to make career decisions because of my family and children. For example, some projects require extensive travelling and consume much more time than usual, leading to compromising time spent with family.

What would you recommend to young people thinking of a career in computing?

I would highlight the importance of knowledge and networking. No matter which university or institution you are graduating from, it is important to know the leaders of the field you are passionate about. Follow their life stories, you will be amazed to know how novice they were before they became pioneers.

Anything else you would like to share with us that we can highlight about your story?

I would certainly highlight the need to make a safer environment for women to fail, learn and succeed. It’s important for female leaders to mentor and provide guidance to younger females to thrive in their passion.

A Message from the ACM-W Chair

Today the ACM-W is thinking of our members in Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Mothers seeking children, sisters seeking siblings, men, women and children facing an uncertain future. Throughout the world, women face difficult times and need our support. Sometimes support may mean help in accessing education; other times, it may mean obtaining the necessities to survive the next day.  In this time of crisis, we urge everyone to come together and extend a helping hand to those in need. We believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of those affected.

Once again, we hold you all in our thoughts at this time.

Ruth G. Lennon
ACM-W Chair

ACM-W Chapters! Tell Us About Your Buddy!

Are you an ACM-W Chapter in collaboration with another ACM/ACM-W chapter? We love to hear from you!  And if you don’t have a collaborator,  partner,  or a buddy, it’s time to find one! 

ACM-W has started a new campaign in December 2022 and is encouraging all ACM-W chapters to partner with other ACM-W chapters from the same/different state, country, or region to become a Buddy.  Your partnerships can be created to achieve some common goal, be it  Academic, Social, Professional or  Service. We invite you to tell us how, as ACM-W chapter buddies, you work towards a common goal and provide a shared experience for your diverse community members. 

To be part of this campaign, you can work with local, country, regional or global buddies. See our December 2022 post for more information. 

The project is led by ACM-W Regional Activities Chairs, Nutan Limaye and Arati Dixit, who introduce their project below.

How did this project start?

We all have our own experiences of facing the challenging period of Covid 19 pandemic.  We had hurdles and limitations on meeting as well as celebrating women in technology. This project was churned out during that time with the idea to create a global networking platform for women in computing to share their experiences of success as well as failure! We have envisioned a platform that provides opportunities to connect with other women in computing when we are not able to meet in person or visit other countries. The ‘ACM-W Buddy system’ was born out of this vision: 

How do we create a sustainable global networking platform which can connect women in computing across different regions with cultural, social, economic and educational diversity? 

The ACM-W Buddy System hopes to build bridges between ACM-W chapters across the world to provide a shared global experience for members with diverse experiences. These shared experiences will empower women in computing globally by enabling a true understanding of the global picture of women in computing.  

What support Buddy chapters can expect? 

The ACM-W Buddy System aims to inspire collaborations between the ACM-W chapters across the world, overcoming the barrier of distance and time! The ACM-W leadership team can provide the following support for the ACM-W chapters that are part of the Buddy System: 

  • Global reach: The Buddy chapters will be announced on a dedicated ACM-W Buddies page.
  • Newsletter coverage: ACM-W monthly newsletter will share the stories of association between different ACM-W chapters. In the 2022-2023 Buddy Campaign, we are calling for stories from all Buddies.

Stay tuned as we are planning for more support in the upcoming months!

What are your recommendations for chapters?

Collaboration ideas recommended in the following resources can be used:

  1. One Hundred One Ideas for ACM-W Chapters
  2. ACM-W Chapter-in-a-Box
  3. Or you may want to organise a Virtual ACM Celebration of Women in Computing

Give us a shout!

Contact us at acm-w at acm dot org to tell us about your current experience or plans on how you collaborate with your buddies and empower women in computing locally, in your country, region or globally. We will share your stories in our newsletter and on our website January-December 2023. We are looking forward to hearing from all ACM-W Chapters around the world!

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Lauren Cairco Dukes, PhD

Lauren Cairco Dukes is a software engineer.

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: ACM symposium on virtual reality software and technology, 2007

Country of residence at the time of receiving the ACM-W Scholarship: USA

Lauren Cairco Dukes was a software engineer at Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator until the entire Area 120 organization was cut as a part of Google’s layoffs in January 2023. Lauren earned her BS in Computer Science at Winthrop University, where her liberal arts education gave her the time and space to pursue many other interests, including music, writing, and biblical studies. Her interdisciplinary interests continued through her MS and PhD at Clemson University, where she conducted human-computer interaction research for healthcare training in virtual reality and taught undergraduate courses. This broad range of interests and experiences prepared her well for a flexible career within Alphabet, where she’s worked from the very bottom of the technical stack on Search Performance to the very top of the stack doing UX research, design, and technical leadership for an open-source electronic medical record app, MedTimeLine. In addition to Lauren’s technical work, Lauren served as the site lead for her office’s annual month of community service emphasis and mentored new hires. Lauren also stepped down to 80% time and is an advocate for workplace flexibility.

Outside of work, most of Lauren’s time is spent chasing her two-year-old around! When she has time, she volunteers with her church’s nonprofit for disadvantaged entrepreneurs, plays recreational kickball, weight lifts with an intergenerational group of women, and plays board games.

What has been a highlight of attending the conference (utilizing the ACM-W Scholarship)?

The conference I attended with the ACM-W scholarship was the first conference where I presented my own work. My undergraduate research advisor–who later became my PhD advisor!–and graduate student mentors in my lab helped me conduct a study, write up its results, and submit it for a poster publication. I was proud of the work I accomplished, and it was really good for me to get practice talking about my work and meeting folks from other schools who are now lifetime colleagues and friends.

How did attending the ACM-W sponsored conference impact your career?

No matter how diverse your institution is in thought or practice, one university only represents a minute slice of the research going into a topic at any one time. Conference attendance gave me a glimpse into the outside world and what other people were doing. Additionally, when you read papers, you think of the authors as some intimidating beings who are much smarter than you. It turns out that when you meet them face to face at a conference, they are people just like you with hopes, fears, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses. Conference attendance helped me understand what it means to be part of a healthy community of practice, where we treat one another respectfully and help one another advance in our careers while advancing the field, always holding the door open for the next generation to come in.

What has been your career highlight? What are you most proud of?

I have two answers. Project-wise, I loved working on MedTimeLine. On large projects in traditional settings, you’re often pigeonholed by your job title, but on that project, I got to use the full range of my skills: user experience research, visualization design, software engineering, and project management. I also appreciated that the mission of the project was to improve the quality of care for patients and the quality of life for clinicians by automating a tedious and error-prone process.

I am most proud of an award I won at Verily. Every year they distribute one award for each company’s key values. In 2018 I won the award for “Do More Good: Do more good for our patients, our people, and the communities in which we live and work.” It was an honor to receive the award, as I would rather be remembered for doing good than for any technical accomplishment.

Lauren with her son

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

So many aspects are challenging–both in negative and positive ways. On the negative side, it was hard in my very early career to find my feet and the confidence to assert my knowledge. I was often the youngest and the only woman in the room, further stacking the deck against me. But, with the help and encouragement of mentors and managers, I found my voice. Now my primary challenge is balancing my career with motherhood. Moving to 80% time was a game-changer for me in feeling like I could be both the mom and the employee I want to be, and I am grateful to see the work culture changing to give people more options like that.

For positive challenges–in the greenfield problems I’ve worked on the most, every day is a brand new challenge that no one has completed before. No copying and pasting from Stack Overflow will help! That can be intimidating but can also be exciting as you have the creative freedom to solve problems any way you’d like.

My current challenge is slowing down and thinking carefully about what to do next. Although I was happy at work and the layoff was a shock, this is an opportunity to step back and consider how I want to spend the next phase of my life. My husband was also laid off by Google, and we are grateful for the generous severance, so together, we’re taking some time off and having lots of conversations about our future. Where do we want to live? What jobs will best be in support of the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health of our entire family? What would a joyful and balanced life look like if we were making it up from scratch? There are real challenges and fears about getting new jobs, but it is also freeing and exciting to dream of what could be next and work together to make it happen.

What would you recommend to young people thinking of a career in computing?

Cultivate humility. Modern computational systems are so complex that no one person can hold all the knowledge to maintain it independently, so to succeed, you will need to admit when you don’t know something and ask for help from others. There is no shame in it, and if you pair humility with curiosity and a desire to learn, you will refine your own skills as you learn from others’ experiences.

Lauren’s career path

Welcome to our new ACM-W Northern America Regional Chair!

Dr Lindsay Jamieson
ACM-W North America Regional Chair

Dr Lindsay Jamieson is our Northern America Regional Chair of ACM-W, effective January 2023. Dr Jamieson is a teaching professor at the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University since 2021. Her area of research focuses on algorithms and theory. Before this, she was an associate professor of computer science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She earned her Doctorate in Computer Science from Clemson University and her Bachelor’s in computer science from DePauw University.

She has previously been associated with St. Mary’s College of Maryland Emerging Scholars program. Her research interests have expanded to CS Education. Specifically, she is interested in increasing the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science.