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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 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 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 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, 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 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. 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.
Message from the ACM-W Europe chair
Why is diversity seemingly an NP-Hard Problem? Why can we not simplify the issue and just fix it? There are many issues involved, some of which we either have not identified yet or do not realize we are failing at. Sometimes we are afraid to try as we may fail and cause more damage. Making a change requires bravery. When solving a mathematical equation, we teach our children to do the easy bit first and then try to work out the rest. Starting is always the hardest bit. So let’s make a start, what easy thing can we do to make a positive change? Let’s begin by highlighting members in their diversity. #BlackLivesMatter is an incredible movement, and we want to do more to make a change rather than simply to speak the words. Help us move forward by nominating yourself or others for any of the following outlining the reasons why you/they should be considered:
- Volunteering with our Working Groups. Let’s make a change to ensure that we have greater diversity in our leadership roles
- Blogs/Diversity Heroes. Is there someone you would like to see featured? Suggest someone for one of our series.
- Wikipedia. We need to highlight more women in computing. Let’s work together to highlight another role model! Who would you choose?
- Nominate more women to ACM Distinguished Speaker Program.
These things are simply our starting point. We know that we want to do more for our members. We want to hear from you and work with you to make a positive change, so please do consider the above points. We can make progress as a community of professionals, and we can be passionate about the need for change as a family of like-minded people. Stay strong and stay hopeful for a brighter future for everyone.
Ruth G. Lennon, Chair of the ACM-W Europe
Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes
Starting from June 2020, we talk with several heroes about their tech career journey, about their perspective on intersectionality and reflect on initiatives for equality. Here is how they answered: “If you were to change something in the way we run tech communities and networks, what would you change?” Read more on our blog: https://acmweurope.acm.org/europeblog/
June 2020 – Bolanle Ojokoh: There should be more recognition and rewards for excellence. One important thing is outreach work, especially North-South collaboration and reaching out to the under-represented in developing settings, who are talented and would have been better contributors to developing the world if there had been more enlightenment. Improved industry-academic linkage, especially in the developing settings, should be more encouraged too.
July 2020 – Masshuda Glencross: I would grow diversity among people in senior decision-making roles to help build a much stronger commitment to supporting the whole community rather than just a certain section of the tech community. We still have too few women in senior academic positions, too few on boards of tech firms and even fewer people of colour in these roles. Decision-makers need to mirror the rich diversity of our community. We all bring strengths, through different perspectives, and these perspectives are too often overlooked.
August 2020 – Amani Boughalmi: I would suggest that tech companies and other tech initiatives facilitate international internship opportunities. These would allow women to sharpen their skills in a real work environment, working with experienced professionals and using specialised software and hardware. Finally, many talented people in the world are born in developing countries and are sometimes under-represented. They should be reached out to contribute to world development, and so, to ensure geographic diversity and equity.
womENcourage 2020, virtually hosted by ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan
24-27 September 2020
womENcourage team is working tirelessly to bring you an exciting program. The registration opened on the 20th of July. Register to hear from an impressive line-up of keynote speakers!
The participants will be welcomed by Vafa Kazdal, Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs at ADA University; Gabriela Kotsis, ACM President, and Ruth Lennon, ACM-W Europe chair. Nuria Oliver, Chief Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance will present the Data Science to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic: the Valencia Case. Prof. Cecilia Mascolo, Cambridge University will describe the progress in Health Diagnostics through Audio Signals Collection and Analysis. Georgia Koutrika, Research Director at Athena Research Center, will discuss Democratizing Data Access through Intelligent Data Exploration Tools. Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI at T-Labs, will question Who Makes Wiser Decisions? Men, Women or Machines? Silvana Badaloni, University of Padova, will talk on Gender Fairness of Machine Learning Techniques. They will be joined by Prof Sarit Kraus, Bar-Ilan University, who is an expert on the development of intelligent agents that can interact proficiently with people and with robots. Check the details of the program here: https://womencourage.acm.org/2020/program/
Like everyone, we are asking ourselves questions about the coming year. In particular, we have had lengthy discussions about how best to support and enable ACM Celebrations and ACM-W Student Chapters in North America during the 2020-21 academic year. This also means looking at events related to the move to virtual spaces and asking ourselves how we can use this as an opportunity to bring more Celebrations and Student Chapters to women.
Our answer? We are still working on some of this, including looking at regional areas that have never held a Celebrations or formed a Student Chapter and using virtual means of supporting them. However, we do know a few things. One, existing Student Chapters have already begun to move to virtual spaces, like the University of Oregon’s Women in Computer Science chapter. This spring, they used the move to online meetings to invite UOregon and WiCS alumni, Sierra Battan, to discuss her engineering role at Nike.
Similarly, Arshia Khan, Associate Professor of Computer Science, decided to launch the first virtual Celebrations in North America for the Women in Computing Celebrations at University of Minnesota Duluth (MinneWIC). They condensed the 1.5 day planned Celebrations to 6 hours on a Saturday, with guest speakers and students sharing their research.
As we continue to consider how we can support you with Celebrations and Student Chapters, please feel free to reach out. In the meantime, we plan on announcing some new goals for helping Celebrations and Student Chapters grow in regions that are presently underserved by ACM-W.
ACM-W North America volunteers are the best! We are committed to celebrating, advocating, promoting, and supporting women in tech. Care to join us? We are in particular need of volunteers outside of the United States. If you live in North America and have experience with communications (e.g., interviewing, editing, preparing social media) or advocating for minoritized women, we would love to hear from you. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the newest ACM-W Student Chapter, Marymount University ACM-W Student Chapter in Virginia! Shout out to Rama Najib, the inaugural chair for the Chapter, and the faculty sponsor, Diane Murphy (Professor and Department Chair, IT, Data Science, and Cybersecurity). Thank you both for your time and commitment to in supporting women studying computing!
Student Spotlight: Erica Smith
What’s it like to pivot to online learning as a CS major? Erica Smith is a student from Richmond, Virginia. She is a Sophomore at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (NCAT) State University, pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. She is the ACM-W president for the NCAT chapter the 2020-2021 school year and a 2020 Google STEP intern.
How did you come to computing? What was the “spark” that made you know you wanted to be involved in computing?
I was first exposed to computing through Hour of Code in the eighth grade. This inspired me to sign up for an HTML/CSS course for the following school year. I remember, on the first day of class, we had an in-depth discussion about what a computer was and how they work. I found this conversation enthralling and I knew that I wanted to learn as much as possible about this field.
What is the biggest obstacle you face right now?
The biggest obstacle I face right now, is the current pandemic. Like many other people, I had to leave college early to come home, and since then, I haven’t been out much.
Doing school and work at home has been a constant battle of maintaining motivation and staying positive. I like to keep my spaces very separate, at school for learning, workplace for working, and home for relaxing. Now that they’ve been blurred, shifting headspaces for tasks has been difficult.
To maintain positivity, I just try to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing, that one day, things will get back to normal.
What things is your university or is your ACM-W chapter doing to address COVID-19 and keep interaction going?
Like most colleges, my school shut down their campus in March and sent everyone home. Since then, they’ve been regulating communicating to students about developments within the state and likeliness of campus opening for the upcoming fall semester.
Our ACM and ACM-W chapter has been keeping in contact with members of our organization through Slack, giving regular updates and sharing remote opportunities for this summer.
What are you most excited about right now in what you are doing or in computing?
Right now, I’m most excited about my internship at Google. I just started May 18th and I’ve already learned so much. It’s not the experience I thought I would be getting because of COVID-19. I’m making the most of the situation and I know I’m in for a very informative and compelling summer.
What’s something you learned that you’d like to pass along?
Always ask questions.
When it comes to school, jobs, and regular life, there will always be someone around that is willing to help and answer any question you may have.
There is no such thing as a stupid question. I had to learn this in quite a frustrating way. This past fall semester, I was stuck trying implementing a feature of a major programming project for three hours. I decided that I would go ask my teacher about it the next day. After asking my question, I was able to wrap up the entire project in about an hour. Since then, I have asked my teachers, mentors, or peers whenever I get stuck so I never have to repeat that experience.
What advice would you give to a young student in computing to be successful?
Never doubt yourself and your abilities.
I’ve done plenty of that myself and it harms more than it helps. If computing is truly a field you’re interested in, pursue it. Never think that you don’t belong in this field, because you do.
ACM-W India emphasizes on women empowerment in computer-related fields and domains. It focuses on providing a platform for sharing resources, information, ideas, and experiences with its diverse range of activities so that women can effectively tackle the challenges in their computing careers. It aims to promote computer literacy and provide strong networking opportunities, enabling women towards being independent, confident, self-reliant, and successful.
The Computing Research Association-Widening Participation (CRA-WP) is an international computing body that started conducting the Grad Cohort workshops from 2004 in the different educational institutions of the USA. Over the last 15 years, these sessions have guided many women through their academic and professional years. Drawing inspiration from it, ACM-W India decided to adopt this workshop model to the Indian setting. As a result, the first edition was organized at IIT Bombay in July 2018 and the second one was held at IIT Delhi in 2019.
ACM India Grad Cohort 2020, the third installment of this pan-India workshop series, was virtually co-organized by the CSE Discipline at IIT Gandhinagar and ACM-W from 24th – 26th July 2020. It kick started with a warm welcome address by Dr. Neeldhara Misra (faculty, IITGN and member, ACM-W), followed by the opening remarks from Dr. Heena Timani (chairperson, ACM-W India)Cofounder and Director, iAnanya Datalytix Pvt.Ltd, Dr. Nutan Limaye (faculty, IIT Bombay and vice-chairperson, ACM-W) and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza (faculty, IIIT Bangalore). They highlighted that the long term objective is to positively shape the future of our societies by celebrating and advocating women in computing.
On Day 1, the first keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Sunita Sarawagi (professor at IIT Bombay and the Infosys Prize 2019 winner), during which she talked about the journey of machine learning models, starting from their birth and going all the way to how they are serving the real world in the current times. Although they have an amazing number of applications, a lot more still needs to be done and this is the reason ML continues to be a fascinating area for further research in computing. The next talk was given by Dr. Manik Gupta (faculty, BITS Pilani-Hyderabad), where she provided her perspectives on how women can plan and progress in their computing careers. The key is to embrace womanhood, be focused, work hard, carve our own career paths, and define our own success. In another session, Dr. Bhavana Kanukurthi (faculty, IISc Bangalore) spoke on choosing a research advisor, topic, and group. According to her, the process should be well-planned, align with our skills, and exhibit practical relevance. Dr. Aparna Taneja (software engineer, Google research) described the practical aspects of this topic by sharing experiences and insights from her own thesis and present job responsibility.
Jaya Sreevalsan Nair (faculty, IIIT Bangalore) gave examples of some eminent minds in various fields and discussed the latest topics of online presence and personal branding. She stated that the trick is to maintain a proper combination of one’s online and offline persona. This was followed by a captivating panel discussion that shed light on some aspects of remote working and maintaining a proper work-life balance. The panelists of this session were Dr. Tulika Mitra (Provost’s Chair Professor of Computer Science, National University of Singapore), Dr. Joycee Mekie (faculty, IITGN), Dr. Hemangee Kapoor (faculty, IIT Guwahati), Dr. Rekha Singhal (senior research scientist, TCS) and Dr. Akanksha Agrawal (postdoctoral researcher, Ben-Gurion University, Israel).
Talking about their personal and professional experiences, they motivated the participants and advised them on how to carve their own niche in computer science.
Day 2 opened with the second keynote lecture of this event that was delivered by Dr. Meena Mahajan (professor, Institute of Mathematical Sciences). An eminent contributor in Discrete Algorithms, Complexity Theory, Matching Theory, Combinatorics, and Proof Complexity, she recounted some interesting experiences from her life and expressed that she grew increasingly fond of theoretical computing with time and proceeded to pursue her Ph.D. in this domain. She described some fascinating facets of this field. In her words, every unknown in complexity theory is like a creative puzzle yet to be solved and there is a place for everyone to work in this exciting area of education and research. The next session was given by Dr. Prajakta Nimbhorkar (faculty, Chennai Mathematical Institute), where she discussed the background preparation (breadth and depth) for Ph.D.
Dr. Ranjita Bhagwan (senior principal researcher, Microsoft) talked about confidence and encouragement by narrating some instances from her life and emphasized that failures are our path to success since they teach us how to firmly believe in ourselves and live positively. Akanksha Agrawal gave a session on quantity versus quality in publishing from the viewpoint of research in theoretical computing, and Tulika Mitra highlighted this topic with respect to the early career researcher level, giving examples from systems research. A thought-provoking panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lipika Dey (principal scientist, TCS) included Meena Mahajan, Dr. Uttama Lahiri (faculty, IITGN), and Dr. Arpita Korwar (faculty, IIT Goa) as panelists. They shared their life-journeys and provided quality guidance to the participants on how to cope up positively and effectively with uncertainty and other related challenges. After this, all the participants enjoyed the online screening of an inspirational documentary movie that is based on the life works of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman and the first Iranian to win the greatest prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal.
The third and final day of this workshop was initiated with an interactive session by Dr. Sushmita Gupta (faculty, National Institute of Science Education and Research). She discussed whether going for a post-doctorate is really a hit or a miss based on her experiences in theoretical computing. Next in line was a process-oriented talk given by Arpita Korwar, during which she explained the process of managing a job hunt and stated that it is all about constantly and actively being in the game. Richa Singh (faculty, IIT Jodhpur) and Anasua Bhowmik (Fellow Design Engineer, AMD Bangalore) provided valuable guidance on post-Ph.D. career options in the industry and academia respectively.
The ACM India Grad Cohort 2020 offered a perfect place for women in computing to connect with one another via several virtual platforms such as zoom, gather.town, WhatsApp, and social media.
Moreover, it also housed three major contests for women participants, with a chance to win exciting prizes. The last date for entry-submissions was 31st July 2020 and the goodies were sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services. The results were announced on 10th August 2020 over email, on the event website, and on different social media platforms.
With an attendance of more than 195 registered participants (students, researchers, and leading experts from industry and academia), the workshop was a huge success and concluded on an optimistic note. It proved to be an excellent platform for women in computing and its allied areas to build discussion forums with some of the most eminent minds in this field. Several participants voiced their views on how enriching it was to meet their women role-models. We received very good response of the participants on virtual format of Grad Cohort workshop. Opinion was taken using menti.com.
The next edition of this Grad Cohort will be conducted at IIT Jodhpur, with Dr. Richa Singh being its organizer. Dr. Heena Timani also shared the list of some upcoming interesting ACM India events. In their concluding remarks, Dr. Neeldhara Misra, Dr. Nutan Limaye, and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza thanked IIT Gandhinagar, ACM-W, Google, TCS, the team of volunteers and all the Participants for massively supporting this event and making it a smashing success. Everyone bid adieu with the promise of staying connected to each other through these events, as a supportive and strong women community in the field of computer science education, research, and industry.
Message from ACM-W Europe Chair
On behalf of all of the ACM-W Europe, I would like to thank you for continuing to be you. Covid-19 has caused stress for many of us. We worry about our health, our jobs and our general state of mind. We may not always feel ok, and this is fine. Everyone finds it hard sometimes. Whatever the world holds for us, there will be an end to the difficulties.
Perhaps this is a time to take on something new or perhaps it is a time to simply value all that we have. Do whatever is best for you. Do not feel under pressure to work longer and harder. Be kind to yourself. We do not need to compete against ourselves. We decide what our measure of success is.
We hope to see you sometime soon at one of our many conferences and celebrations. For now, let’s celebrate and be proud of who
ACM-W Europe Chair
womENcourage 2020 will run as an online virtual event
The womENcourage team has been closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. It’s now been decided that womENcourage 2020 will run as an online virtual event to ensure the health and welfare of our attendees. At this time, the team is still looking forward to your contributions – still not too late to submit workshop/tutorial proposals.
womENcourage 2020 virtual information session held at ADA’s Legacy
As a precursor to womENcourage, ADA University ran an online event on the 23-24th of April. The event was moderated by Araz Yusubov (Dean, School of IT and Engineering, ADA University). On the 23rd of April, Sevinj Jafarli, Ilaha Manafova, and Lala Shahbandayeva shared their experiences of participating at womENcourage and how it helped with their career. Zeynab Rzayeva talked about poster submissions, and hints and tips for successful submission. Bev Bachmayer of womENcourage Steering Committee related the history of womEncourage and the team behind the scenes. On the 24th of April, Ulviyya Jafarli and Nijat Mursali talked about Big Data and AI education, and Samir Mammadov, and Natavan Akhundova talked about their Big Data and AI projects, and their advice for those who want to enter the field? These topics are also the themes of the womENcourage main conference.
Blog ACM-W Europe Blog
We’ve been hosting guest bloggers on our ACM-W Europe blog. Here is a selection.
System of Equations – Sabina Mammadova
One of the best things about womENcourage is its unique networking opportunity with women at all levels of their career from Europe in one place. So, let’s start with meeting people online! In April, a junior bachelor student in information technologies at Ada University, Sabina Mammadova, wrote for us about her career in computing and her thoughts on academic excellence. Read more on our blog.
Blog Series: Reflections on womENcourage 2019
The theme for womENcourage 2020 is “The equation has two sides”, as this year’s event aims to increase the number of male participants to break the women-only event stereotype. Inclusivity and involving all parties are crucial for resolving the diversity issues. So, May’s guest blogger is very timely – Burak Karabulut, who participated in womENcourage 2019, wrote about his experience of the event. Burak studies Computer Technology and Information Systems at Bilkent University in Turkey and is a Candidate Engineer at HAVELSAN. Read more from Burak on our blog.
BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium by Adriana Wilde
A very timely blog article as womENcourage 2020 moves online. In May, we’ve had the privilege of Adriana Wilde writing her experience attending BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, which ran for the first time online due to the pandemic. Adriana Wilde is part of the womENcourage steering and organizing committee and is pursuing a part-time PhD in Computer Science at the University of Southampton. We thank her for this marvellous account of the event, and the inspiration for participating in online events such as the upcoming womENcourage. Read more here.
New Additions to Wikipedia!
In March, to celebrate International Women’s day, some members of our team started contributing to English Wikipedia with articles about women that are in computing, and from as many European countries as possible. We are delighted that three entries were accepted to be created. Click to read more on:
- Sihem Amer-Yahia (CNRS, University of Grenoble Alpes, France) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihem_Amer-Yahia
- Geraldine Fitzpatrick (TU-Wien, Austria) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Fitzpatrick
- Dita Přikrylová (Czechitas, Czech Republic) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dita_P%C5%99ikrylov%C3%A1
Join the ACM-W Europe Communications and Outreach Team
We are always on the lookout for new talent to join our communications team. You will be part of a dynamic volunteer team passionately working to disseminate information of interest to our community. The team publishes monthly newsletters, regular blog posts, and promotes relevant gender issues in computing and celebrates community success in social media (Facebook, and Twitter).
You can work with us on any number of our initiatives:
- The newsletter: Interview community members, and write articles
- Social media: Help create social media campaigns; expand our reach in Linkedin.
- Website: Help maintain a dynamic website with up-to-date community news
- Blog: Write blog articles, or work with community members on blog series.
- Outreach campaigns: E.g., reach out to ACM-W chapters for regular communication series
- Wikipedia campaign: Help us create a database of women in computing in Europe and regularly draft articles for Wikipedia.
If you are interested, please contact us at email@example.com with a brief cover letter explaining why you would like to work with us.
Over the last two months, three Celebrations were held in three countries of North America reaching over 1,000 students! Celebrations were held by the Caribbean Celebration of Women in Computing (in Puerto Rico), Canadian Celebration (in Ontario, Canada), and a four-state Celebration in the U.S. (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas). Special shout-out to Nayda Santiago, Carol Spradling, and Wendy Powley and their volunteer teams for their time and efforts in supporting and encouraging future tech leaders. Next up are Celebrations in the U.S., including Carolina Women in Computing (North and South Carolina), Tri-state Women in Computing Conference (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana), and Capital Area Women in Computing (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey).
If you want to learn more about Celebrations in North America or are interested in volunteering, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can now follow us on Facebook! @ACMWNorthAmerica
In December 2019, Prof. Elena Ferrari (University of Insubria) and Prof. Wendy Mackay (Inria -Saclay) were awarded ACM Fellowships, the two women from Europe to be recognised as ACM fellows.
Prof Elena Ferrari was recognised for her contributions to security and privacy of data and social network systems, and Prof. Wendy Mackay was recognised for her contributions to human-computer interaction, mixed reality and participatory design, and leadership in ACM SIGCHI. Meet these wonderful women who are trailblazers in their respective fields.
Elena Ferrari, inspiring the next generation of women into cybersecurity
Elena Ferrari is a full professor of Computer Science at the University of Insubria, Italy where she leads the STRICT SociaLab. She received her PhD and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Milano (Italy).
Prof. Ferrari is a world-renowned researcher and leader with high impact research and technology contributions to data security and privacy. She leads research projects that create technologies to enable efficient and effective data sharing without sacrificing privacy or security. Prof. Ferrari’s research, ranging from social network privacy and IoT to online privacy, critical infrastructure protection, has received funding from several institutions and enterprises, including EU Commission, Google, IBM, and the Italian Ministry for University and Research. She has published several books and more than 240 papers in international journals and conference proceedings.
Prof. Ferrari is the recipient of several awards, including the ACM CODASPY Research Award for lasting and innovative research contributions to the cybersecurity and privacy fields (2019) and the ACM SACMAT 10 Year Test of Time Award (2019). She became an IEEE Fellow in 2012 for her research contribution to security and privacy for data and applications. In 2018, Prof. Ferrari was named one of the 50 most influential Italian women in tech.
Prof. Ferrari promotes cybersecurity and privacy to women extensively and has supervised numerous female PhD students. As part of the CONCORDIA EU research project on cybersecurity, she actively participates in promoting women in cyber and has co-organized a workshop at our flagship event, ACM WomenEncourage: Women in Cybersecurity: A manifesto for TODAY. To date, women represent only 24% of the workforce in the cybersecurity domain. While the figure increased over the years, it is still far from the ideal of a balanced representation of both genders. Through the workshop at womENcourage, Prof. Ferrari and her co-organisers provided a much-needed forum for engaging with stakeholders from different areas of cybersecurity to agree on common objectives to bridge this gender gap.
Wendy Mackay, exploring the limits of technology interaction
Wendy Mackay is a Research Director at INRIA, Paris-Saclay and the Université Paris-Saclay (formerly Université Paris-Sud), the first and only woman promoted to Inria’s highest research rank. She received her PhD from MIT in Management of Technological Innovation, and an MA from Northeastern University in Experimental Psychology. In 2017, she was awarded Doctorem Scientarum Honoris Causa in the Faculty of Science by Aarhus University, Denmark for her whole career, particularly for her work on interactive video, participatory design and mixed reality.
She is responsible for many computing firsts: At Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), she wrote the original authoring software for IVIS, the world’s first commercial interactive video system (1983, pre-Macintosh). At MIT, she conducted the first major study of email and cognitive overload (the 1980s). At Xerox PARC, she helped establish a new community for computer augmented environments.
Prof. Mackay is currently leading the Ex)situ research group in Human-Computer Interaction at Inria. Her current research on human-computer partnerships fundamentally reenvisions interaction and shifts the perspective on the role of AI in interactive systems. Her Ex)situ research group explores the limits of interaction — how extreme users interact with technology in extreme situations. Her work particularly focuses on creative professionals, artists and designers who rewrite the rules as they create new works, and scientists who seek to understand complex phenomena through creative exploration of large quantities of data.
Prof. Mackay is a recognized leader in the international Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community, holding numerous leadership roles in ACM and SIGCHI, and has been instrumental in developing a strong HCI community in France. She received the ACM/SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award for Service this year. She is also a recipient of a European Research Council Advanced Grant.
We congratulate both professors wholeheartedly for their amazing careers, and for serving as great role models for all of us.