1st Greek ACM-W Chapter Winter School on Fairness in AI

Starting this year, the Greek ACM-W Chapter, with the support of the ACM Europe Research Visibility working group (ACM Europe RAISE), organizes a series of annual winter schools, on timely computer science related topics. The main goal of the school is to offer the opportunity to young computer science professionals to learn, interact and make a difference.

The inaugural edition of the Greek ACM-W Chapter Winter School (GECSW22) took place online on February 24-25, 2022. Living the revolution of AI, with issues of biased treatments, exclusion, and unfairness being raised, the topic could not be anything else than “Fairness in AI”. Participation was free but limited to facilitate interactions. After the selection process, more than 60 participants from more than 20 countries had the opportunity to be part of the
GECSW22.

Introduction to GECSW22


Top scientists from around the world presented their exciting work on the topic in the two-day event. Participants learned, through scientific talks and tutorials, the fundamental theory behind algorithmic fairness, the state-of-the-art in ranking, recommendations, web search, online markets, computer vision & some software tools. Also, they understood the need for a broader, multidisciplinary treatment including police, education, legal, philosophical and societal views.

2 Full Days of Activities

For a more engaging and interactive virtual school, participants were divided into working groups. Each working group (7 people) had to complete a small task (see image). At the end of the conference, the participants presented their work and voted for the best presentation.

Working Group Assignment

The entire event was live-streamed with the help of people from Athena Research Center and has been recorded on the Greek ACM-W Chapter’s YouTube channel. (Respecting the personal data of the students, their presentations have not been recorded)

The full program of the event is still available on the official website of GECSW22.

GECSW22 Agenda

GECSW22 would like to thank its supporters and sponsors, all who contributed to make this event so successful, and of course its attendees for their participation and enthusiasm! Until the next GECSW, see you at the 4th Summit on Gender Equality in Computing by the Greek ACM-W Chapter!

Ruth Lennon selected as the next ACM-W Chair

Ruth Lennon

Ruth Lennon, current chair of ACM-W Europe, has been selected as the next Global Chair of ACM-W. Ruth is the director of Craobh Technology Consulting, an organization that provides personalized solutions to industry problems.

Ruth is also a Lecturer with 20 years of experience in the Department of Computing in Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland. Ruth’s research interests focus on enterprise scale systems with a particular focus on DevOps and Cloud technologies. She has been a member of many technical panels and committees including chairing the NSAI/TC 2/SC 11 on cloud and distributed systems, and working on the IEEE 2675 DevOps standard. Ruth’s goal in DevOps is to ensure that security and performance are seen as core to development projects just as it is in configuration projects.

Ruth has been a member of the ACM for over 20 years and is the Chair of the ACM-W Europe. She has worked on projects to support and encourage women in computing and engineering career pathways for as long as she has been in the ACM. Highlighting the vital role that women can play in any technical team is core to her voluntary work.

When asked about her vision for ACM-W Ruth states, “I look forward to working with the team to define a strategic approach to build stronger international links in our global community of skilled, collaborative and enthusiastic researchers and practitioners. Over the next two years we will explore new ways to provide greater value to our members locally, regionally and globally.”

ACM-W North America: Designing for Sustainability and Inclusion

Monica McGill
Dr. Monica McGill, Immediate Past Chair,
ACM-W North America
A. Nicki Washington, Ph.D.
Chair, ACM-W North America

In the summer of 2019, the ACM-W North America Executive Committee began the task of formally organizing. Led by Immediate Past Chair Dr. Monica McGill, the Committee embarked on the mission of supporting, celebrating, informing, and advocating for women and nonbinary people in computing across Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Suffice it to say that this was a heavy lift. Not only were we a small committee of volunteers. We were also starting from the ground up. Over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, the Committee worked to ensure that sustainability and inclusion were at the forefront of all activities. As such, we implemented the following things to support these goals.

Creation of Constitution & Bylaws

It was extremely important for us to establish governance early, to ensure that all current and future members followed a process that supported the ACM-W mission and our ideals as founding members of the North America Committee. These were approved by members of the Executive Committee and address everything from responsibilities of subcommittees and chairs to the addition/removal of new members (including subcommittees) and processes for amending the bylaws.

Examples of this intentionality include the required representation of the Committee:

Members from systemically marginalized races/ethnicities shall represent a minimum of 50% of the ACM-W North America Committee.”

Given that approximately 78% of all women in computing racially identify as white and Asian, this requirement ensured that those identifying as Black, Indigenous, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Latina were not pushed to the margins for leadership positions.

Creation of the Empowerment of Marginalized Communities Subcommittee

The Empowerment of Marginalized Communities (Empowerment, for short) Subcommittee leads efforts to empower, support, and connect individuals who have been systemically pushed to the fringes in computing. It promotes computing in communities throughout North America that are underserved due to the detrimental effects of slavery, colonialization, and continued marginalization.

The Executive Committee recognizes the ways in which women and non-binary people from marginalized communities have been intentionally decentered in conversations related to gender diversity, equity, and inclusion in computing. This Subcommittee provides valuable programming and strategies that center those who’ve long been pushed to the margins. In addition, at least one member of the Empowerment Subcommittee must also serve on the Nominations Subcommittee [which is responsible for identifying, vetting, and/or presenting potential candidates for ACM-W North America (including the Executive Committee)].

Creation of Student Co-Chairs

The Committee recognizes that our student chapters drive our regional activities. As a result, it is important that they participate in the sustained support across the region. Each North America Subcommittee (Celebrations, Communications, Student Chapters, Nominations, and Empowerment) shall include at least one student chair, who helps to also serves as a liaison between the Committee and student chapters/members throughout North America. We are currently soliciting self-nominations for student chairs. Interested students should review the self-nomination information and apply here no later than April 1, 2022.

The ACM-W NA Executive Committee understands the importance of designing to include. While there are sure to be unexpected changes in the future, we are proud of the intentionality we used to create a regional Committee that prioritizes inclusion and equity for generations to come.

We welcome you to learn more about and join us in this important work.

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 – Barbora Buhnova Our March 2021 guest was Barbara Buhnova, is a Co-Founder and Governing Board member of  Czechitas,  the community behind the scenes of the womENcourage 2021 conference. This Czech non-profit organisation emerged in 2014 to empower girls and women to engage in computing education or career transition. Bara is an Associate Professor and vice-dean at Masaryk University (MU), Faculty of Informatics in Brno. She leads multiple research teams at the Faculty of Informatics MU (software architecture), the Institute of Computer Science MU (big data analytics), and the Czech CyberCrime Centre of Excellence C4e (critical infrastructures). Bara is a leading member of multiple initiatives engaging more women in tech (e.g. Czechitas, Informatics Europe working group Women in Informatics Research and Education (WIRE), EU COST Action: European Network for Gender Balance in Informatics) reaching across the entire Europe. Read more from Barbora on our blog.

Blog Series: Telling our Stories: Aayesha March 2021 postwas by Aayesha, who recently completed her MS in Computer Science from Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), Pakistan. Her research focuses on automating the detection of epileptic seizures using machine learning techniques.   “When I enrolled for MS in computing, I was confused about picking my research topic, and I could not find assistance from my teachers. After several days of searching on the web, I chose machine learning-based epilepsy detection as a research topic. I wrote a complete thesis on this topic as well as two research articles.”   Well done Aayesha for persevering and discovering your passion! Read more from Aayesha on our blog.

How to organise an ACM-Women Europe Celebration in 10 Steps In April 2021, we caught up with Laura Castro from the Spanish celebrations to share their insights and lessons learnt. Laura Castro is a professor at the University of A Coruña, where she has been teaching since 2005 on Software Architecture and Software Validation. Her research focuses on software testing (automated, model and property-based testing), applied to software in general, and distributed, concurrent, functional systems in particular (mainly working with Erlang/OTP and Elixir). She shared with us the top lessons she learnt for creating a new celebration. It starts with: A few friends that want to make a difference can come together and create a celebration! For the rest visit our blog!

5 Reasons to Join Us at womENcourage 2021

womENcourageTM 2021 that is going to be virtual (coordinated from Prague, Czech Republic), 22-24 September, 2021.The slogan of this year’s event 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.

Here are 5 reasons to join us at the womENcourage 2021 this year:

  1. For inspiration and connection: Continue building the future of opportunity. Get inspired by the leading figures in computing, many of which are women. Inspire others and make connections. Find your voice among a diverse community of early-career to mid-career or transition to new directions (retired / returning) colleagues. Pave the way for cooperation by meeting and connecting with like-minded individuals and top minds in your field.
  2. For challenge and validation: Challenges are important parts of life that shape us. Learn to understand the value of your ideas and push them from the drawing board into reality. Continue growing your self – esteem and appreciating the ideas you bring to the table.
  3. For encouragement and support: We all have faced struggles and obstacles and, at one point or another, have not always seen the best in ourselves. If you feel like you could use a bit of help from others in your area of expertise, this is a conference for you. After all, #womENcourage embeds the support in the title itself.
  4. For purpose: Research/poster sessions that represent the social impact on challenges facing our communities and the world. Join or start projects that might bring breakthrough progress to our society.
  5. For opportunity: Women in computing across sectors are making change real and possible across a changing business, policy, and cultural landscape. From employment to partnerships to investment, learn what’s happening around the world and how you can grow opportunities for yourself, your company, and your networks.

Get A  Scholarship

Thanks to the generous womENcourageTM supporters, local and international alike, you have a chance to receive a participation scholarship to join the event. Together with our supporters we are proud to announce scholarships to a number of students, who actively participate in the conference (with poster, workshop, tutorial, hackathon). A small number of scholarships will be offered to students who do not contribute to the program actively, but have shown exceptional interest in the relevant fields, and are preferably in the first year(s) of their studies

Important Dates

Registration openJune 1, 2021
Scholarship applications dueJune 10, 2021
Hackathon interest to participate dueAugust 10, 2021

To learn more, follow this link to the Call to Take Part.

Wish to organize the 2023 womENcourage? – Call for Proposals Open

The call for hosting womENcourage 2022 is now closed. The venue will be announced on 24 September 2021 during the closing session of womENcourage 2021. We are now looking for proposals to host womENcourage 2023.

The proposal process includes two phases (all the templates you will need are provided at the end):

  • Expressions of Interest (EoI) to be submitted no later than 17 June 2021 23:59 AoE, but earlier submissions are welcome and indeed highly recommended. Submitting an EoI does not constitute a firm commitment to hosting. It is a first step towards a conversation with ACM-W Europe which will help you navigate the process of applying to be a host venue, by thinking early about what you need to have in place to fulfill the requirements to host the event. Notification of a successful EoI proposal will be communicated via email by 2 July 2021.
  • Full Hosting Proposals to be submitted by 12 August 2021 23:59 AoE. Notification of the final decision on 10 February 2021.

Here are the links to the call documents:

Expression of Interest Due17 June 2021 23:59 AoE
Notification of a successful Expression of Interest proposalby 2 July 2021  
Full Proposal deadline12 August 2021 23:59 AoE
Notification of a successful Full Proposalby 1 October 2021

ACM-W Europe Report

womENcourage 2021: Preparing for Prague

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

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

ACM recognizes two European Women as Fellow and Distinguished Member

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

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

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

Read about her brilliant career on our blog.

ACM-W Europe blog

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

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

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

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

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

5th ACM-W India National Level Virtual Hackathon 2020

19th -20th December, 2020                                                                            

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

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

Glimpse of Virtual Inaugural Function of Hackathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

womENcourage 2020 Took Place Online, 24-27th September

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

The ACM-W Europe Chair, Ruth Lennon wrote:

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

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

ACM-W Europe 2020 blog

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

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

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

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

ACM-W North America News

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

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

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

Monica

Volunteers Needed

ACM-W North America volunteers are the best! We are committed to celebrating, advocating, promoting, and supporting women in tech. Care to join us? We are in particular need of volunteers outside of the United States. If you live in North America and have experience with communications (e.g., interviewing, editing, preparing social media), forming student chapters or advocating for marginalized groups, we would love to hear from you. Reach us at acm-w-na@volunteer.acm.org.

New Chapters

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

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

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

ACM Celebrations in North America

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

ACM-W North America Profiles

We have recently interviewed six women in North America:

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

New from ACM-W Europe

Message from the ACM-W Europe chair

Why is diversity seemingly an NP-Hard Problem? Why can we not simplify the issue and just fix it? There are many issues involved, some of which we either have not identified yet or do not realize we are failing at. Sometimes we are afraid to try as we may fail and cause more damage. Making a change requires bravery. When solving a mathematical equation, we teach our children to do the easy bit first and then try to work out the rest. Starting is always the hardest bit. So let’s make a start, what easy thing can we do to make a positive change? Let’s begin by highlighting members in their diversity. #BlackLivesMatter is an incredible movement, and we want to do more to make a change rather than simply to speak the words. Help us move forward by nominating yourself or others for any of the following outlining the reasons why you/they should be considered:

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

These things are simply our starting point. We know that we want to do more for our members. We want to hear from you and work with you to make a positive change, so please do consider the above points. We can make progress as a community of professionals, and we can be passionate about the need for change as a family of like-minded people. Stay strong and stay hopeful for a brighter future for everyone.

Ruth G. Lennon, Chair of the ACM-W Europe

Breath of Fresh Air: Diversity Heroes

Starting from June 2020, we talk with several heroes about their tech career journey, about their perspective on intersectionality and reflect on initiatives for equality. Here is how they answered: “If you were to change something in the way we run tech communities and networks, what would you change?”  Read more on our blog: https://acmweurope.acm.org/europeblog/

Bolanle Ojokoh

June 2020 – Bolanle Ojokoh: There should be more recognition and rewards for excellence. One important thing is outreach work,  especially North-South collaboration and reaching out to the under-represented in developing settings, who are talented and would have been better contributors to developing the world if there had been more enlightenment. Improved industry-academic linkage, especially in the developing settings, should be more encouraged too.

Masshuda Glencross

July 2020 – Masshuda Glencross: I would grow diversity among people in senior decision-making roles to help build a much stronger commitment to supporting the whole community rather than just a certain section of the tech community. We still have too few women in senior academic positions, too few on boards of tech firms and even fewer people of colour in these roles. Decision-makers need to mirror the rich diversity of our community. We all bring strengths, through different perspectives, and these perspectives are too often overlooked.

Amani Boughalmi

August 2020 – Amani Boughalmi: I would suggest that tech companies and other tech initiatives facilitate international internship opportunities. These would allow women to sharpen their skills in a real work environment, working with experienced professionals and using specialised software and hardware.  Finally, many talented people in the world are born in developing countries and are sometimes under-represented. They should be reached out to contribute to world development, and so, to ensure geographic diversity and equity.

womENcourage 2020,  virtually hosted by ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan

24-27 September 2020

womENcourage team is working tirelessly to bring you an exciting program. The registration opened on the 20th of July. Register to hear from an impressive line-up of keynote speakers!

The participants will be welcomed by Vafa Kazdal, Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs at ADA University; Gabriela Kotsis, ACM President, and Ruth Lennon, ACM-W Europe chair. Nuria Oliver, Chief Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance will present the Data Science to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic: the Valencia Case. Prof. Cecilia Mascolo, Cambridge University will describe the progress in Health Diagnostics through Audio Signals Collection and Analysis. Georgia Koutrika, Research Director at Athena Research Center, will discuss Democratizing Data Access through Intelligent Data Exploration Tools. Claudia Pohlink, Head of AI at T-Labs, will question Who Makes Wiser Decisions? Men, Women or Machines? Silvana Badaloni, University of Padova, will talk on Gender Fairness of Machine Learning Techniques. They will be joined by Prof Sarit Kraus, Bar-Ilan University, who is an expert on the development of intelligent agents that can interact proficiently with people and with robots. Check the details of the program here: https://womencourage.acm.org/2020/program/

ACM-W North America News

Like everyone, we are asking ourselves questions about the coming year. In particular, we have had lengthy discussions about how best to support and enable ACM Celebrations and ACM-W Student Chapters in North America during the 2020-21 academic year. This also means looking at events related to the move to virtual spaces and asking ourselves how we can use this as an opportunity to bring more Celebrations and Student Chapters to women.

Our answer? We are still working on some of this, including looking at regional areas that have never held a Celebrations or formed a Student Chapter and using virtual means of supporting them. However, we do know a few things. One, existing Student Chapters have already begun to move to virtual spaces, like the University of Oregon’s Women in Computer Science chapter. This spring, they used the move to online meetings to invite UOregon and WiCS alumni, Sierra Battan, to discuss her engineering role at Nike.

Similarly, Arshia Khan, Associate Professor of Computer Science, decided to launch the first virtual Celebrations in North America for the Women in Computing Celebrations at University of Minnesota Duluth (MinneWIC). They condensed the 1.5 day planned Celebrations to 6 hours on a Saturday, with guest speakers and students sharing their research.

As we continue to consider how we can support you with Celebrations and Student Chapters, please feel free to reach out. In the meantime, we plan on announcing some new goals for helping Celebrations and Student Chapters grow in regions that are presently underserved by ACM-W.

Monica

Volunteers Needed

ACM-W North America volunteers are the best! We are committed to celebrating, advocating, promoting, and supporting women in tech. Care to join us? We are in particular need of volunteers outside of the United States. If you live in North America and have experience with communications (e.g., interviewing, editing, preparing social media) or advocating for minoritized women, we would love to hear from you. Reach us at acm-w-na@volunteer.acm.org.

New Chapters

Welcome to the newest ACM-W Student Chapter, Marymount University ACM-W Student Chapter in Virginia! Shout out to Rama Najib, the inaugural chair for the Chapter, and the faculty sponsor, Diane Murphy (Professor and Department Chair, IT, Data Science, and Cybersecurity). Thank you both for your time and commitment to in supporting women studying computing!

Student Spotlight: Erica Smith

What’s it like to pivot to online learning as a CS major? Erica Smith is a student from Richmond, Virginia. She is a Sophomore at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (NCAT) State University, pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. She is the ACM-W president for the NCAT chapter the 2020-2021 school year and a 2020 Google STEP intern.

How did you come to computing? What was the “spark” that made you know you wanted to be involved in computing?

I was first exposed to computing through Hour of Code in the eighth grade. This inspired me to sign up for an HTML/CSS course for the following school year. I remember, on the first day of class, we had an in-depth discussion about what a computer was and how they work. I found this conversation enthralling and I knew that I wanted to learn as much as possible about this field.

What is the biggest obstacle you face right now?

The biggest obstacle I face right now, is the current pandemic. Like many other people, I had to leave college early to come home, and since then, I haven’t been out much.

Doing school and work at home has been a constant battle of maintaining motivation and staying positive. I like to keep my spaces very separate, at school for learning, workplace for working, and home for relaxing. Now that they’ve been blurred, shifting headspaces for tasks has been difficult.

To maintain positivity, I just try to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing, that one day, things will get back to normal.

What things is your university or is your ACM-W chapter doing to address COVID-19 and keep interaction going?

Like most colleges, my school shut down their campus in March and sent everyone home. Since then, they’ve been regulating communicating to students about developments within the state and likeliness of campus opening for the upcoming fall semester.

Our ACM and ACM-W chapter has been keeping in contact with members of our organization through Slack, giving regular updates and sharing remote opportunities for this summer.

What are you most excited about right now in what you are doing or in computing?

Right now, I’m most excited about my internship at Google. I just started May 18th and I’ve already learned so much. It’s not the experience I thought I would be getting because of COVID-19. I’m making the most of the situation and I know I’m in for a very informative and compelling summer.

What’s something you learned that you’d like to pass along?

Always ask questions.

When it comes to school, jobs, and regular life, there will always be someone around that is willing to help and answer any question you may have.

There is no such thing as a stupid question. I had to learn this in quite a frustrating way. This past fall semester, I was stuck trying implementing a feature of a major programming project for three hours. I decided that I would go ask my teacher about it the next day. After asking my question, I was able to wrap up the entire project in about an hour. Since then, I have asked my teachers, mentors, or peers whenever I get stuck so I never have to repeat that experience.

What advice would you give to a young student in computing to be successful?

Never doubt yourself and your abilities.

I’ve done plenty of that myself and it harms more than it helps. If computing is truly a field you’re interested in, pursue it. Never think that you don’t belong in this field, because you do.

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

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

ACM-W India emphasizes on women empowerment in computer-related fields and domains. It focuses on providing a platform for sharing resources, information, ideas, and experiences with its diverse range of activities so that women can effectively tackle the challenges in their computing careers. It aims to promote computer literacy and provide strong networking opportunities, enabling women towards being independent, confident, self-reliant, and successful.

The Computing Research Association-Widening Participation (CRA-WP) is an international computing body that started conducting the Grad Cohort workshops from 2004 in the different educational institutions of the USA. Over the last 15 years, these sessions have guided many women through their academic and professional years. Drawing inspiration from it, ACM-W India decided to adopt this workshop model to the Indian setting. As a result, the first edition was organized at IIT Bombay in July 2018 and the second one was held at IIT Delhi in 2019.

ACM India Grad Cohort 2020, the third installment of this pan-India workshop series, was virtually co-organized by the CSE Discipline at IIT Gandhinagar and ACM-W from 24th – 26th July 2020. It kick started with a warm welcome address by Dr. Neeldhara Misra (faculty, IITGN and member, ACM-W), followed by the opening remarks from Dr. Heena Timani (chairperson, ACM-W India)Cofounder and Director, iAnanya Datalytix Pvt.Ltd, Dr. Nutan Limaye (faculty, IIT Bombay and vice-chairperson, ACM-W) and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza (faculty, IIIT Bangalore). They highlighted that the long term objective is to positively shape the future of our societies by celebrating and advocating women in computing.

On Day 1, the first keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Sunita Sarawagi (professor at IIT Bombay and the Infosys Prize 2019 winner), during which she talked about the journey of machine learning models, starting from their birth and going all the way to how they are serving the real world in the current times. Although they have an amazing number of applications, a lot more still needs to be done and this is the reason ML continues to be a fascinating area for further research in computing. The next talk was given by Dr. Manik Gupta (faculty, BITS Pilani-Hyderabad), where she provided her perspectives on how women can plan and progress in their computing careers. The key is to embrace womanhood, be focused, work hard, carve our own career paths, and define our own success. In another session, Dr. Bhavana Kanukurthi (faculty, IISc Bangalore) spoke on choosing a research advisor, topic, and group. According to her, the process should be well-planned, align with our skills, and exhibit practical relevance. Dr. Aparna Taneja (software engineer, Google research) described the practical aspects of this topic by sharing experiences and insights from her own thesis and present job responsibility.

Jaya Sreevalsan Nair (faculty, IIIT Bangalore) gave examples of some eminent minds in various fields and discussed the latest topics of online presence and personal branding. She stated that the trick is to maintain a proper combination of one’s online and offline persona. This was followed by a captivating panel discussion that shed light on some aspects of remote working and maintaining a proper work-life balance. The panelists of this session were Dr. Tulika Mitra (Provost’s Chair Professor of Computer Science, National University of Singapore), Dr. Joycee Mekie (faculty, IITGN), Dr. Hemangee Kapoor (faculty, IIT Guwahati), Dr. Rekha Singhal (senior research scientist, TCS) and Dr. Akanksha Agrawal (postdoctoral researcher, Ben-Gurion University, Israel).

Talking about their personal and professional experiences, they motivated the participants and advised them on how to carve their own niche in computer science.

Day 2 opened with the second keynote lecture of this event that was delivered by Dr. Meena Mahajan (professor, Institute of Mathematical Sciences). An eminent contributor in Discrete Algorithms, Complexity Theory, Matching Theory, Combinatorics, and Proof Complexity, she recounted some interesting experiences from her life and expressed that she grew increasingly fond of theoretical computing with time and proceeded to pursue her Ph.D. in this domain. She described some fascinating facets of this field. In her words, every unknown in complexity theory is like a creative puzzle yet to be solved and there is a place for everyone to work in this exciting area of education and research. The next session was given by Dr. Prajakta Nimbhorkar (faculty, Chennai Mathematical Institute), where she discussed the background preparation (breadth and depth) for Ph.D.

Dr. Ranjita Bhagwan (senior principal researcher, Microsoft) talked about confidence and encouragement by narrating some instances from her life and emphasized that failures are our path to success since they teach us how to firmly believe in ourselves and live positively. Akanksha Agrawal gave a session on quantity versus quality in publishing from the viewpoint of research in theoretical computing, and Tulika Mitra highlighted this topic with respect to the early career researcher level, giving examples from systems research. A thought-provoking panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lipika Dey (principal scientist, TCS) included Meena Mahajan, Dr. Uttama Lahiri (faculty, IITGN), and Dr. Arpita Korwar (faculty, IIT Goa) as panelists. They shared their life-journeys and provided quality guidance to the participants on how to cope up positively and effectively with uncertainty and other related challenges. After this, all the participants enjoyed the online screening of an inspirational documentary movie that is based on the life works of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman and the first Iranian to win the greatest prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal.

The third and final day of this workshop was initiated with an interactive session by Dr. Sushmita Gupta (faculty, National Institute of Science Education and Research). She discussed whether going for a post-doctorate is really a hit or a miss based on her experiences in theoretical computing. Next in line was a process-oriented talk given by Arpita Korwar, during which she explained the process of managing a job hunt and stated that it is all about constantly and actively being in the game. Richa Singh (faculty, IIT Jodhpur) and Anasua Bhowmik (Fellow Design Engineer, AMD Bangalore) provided valuable guidance on post-Ph.D. career options in the industry and academia respectively.

The ACM India Grad Cohort 2020 offered a perfect place for women in computing to connect with one another via several virtual platforms such as zoom, gather.town, WhatsApp, and social media.

Moreover, it also housed three major contests for women participants, with a chance to win exciting prizes. The last date for entry-submissions was 31st July 2020 and the goodies were sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services. The results were announced on 10th August 2020 over email, on the event website, and on different social media platforms.

With an attendance of more than 195 registered participants (students, researchers, and leading experts from industry and academia), the workshop was a huge success and concluded on an optimistic note. It proved to be an excellent platform for women in computing and its allied areas to build discussion forums with some of the most eminent minds in this field. Several participants voiced their views on how enriching it was to meet their women role-models. We received very good response of the participants on virtual format of Grad Cohort workshop. Opinion was taken using menti.com.

The next edition of this Grad Cohort will be conducted at IIT Jodhpur, with Dr. Richa Singh being its organizer. Dr. Heena Timani also shared the list of some upcoming interesting ACM India events. In their concluding remarks, Dr. Neeldhara Misra, Dr. Nutan Limaye, and Dr. Meenakshi D’Souza thanked IIT Gandhinagar, ACM-W, Google, TCS, the team of volunteers and all the Participants for massively supporting this event and making it a smashing success. Everyone bid adieu with the promise of staying connected to each other through these events, as a supportive and strong women community in the field of computer science education, research, and industry.