Celebrating the Evolution of ACM-W Scholarships: Empowering Women in Computing

Project team:

  • Bushra Anjum (Doximity, California, US; ACM-W Standing committee chair)
  • Viviana Bono (University of Torino, Italy; ACM-W Scholarship chair Aug 2018-Feb 2023)
  • Sharon Kang (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, US; ACM intern, Spring-Summer 2022) 


  • Yelena Mejova (ISI Foundation, Torino, Italy; member of the ACM-W Scholarships committee)
  • Elaine Weyuker (University of Central Florida, US; founder of the ACM-W Scholarships program)

ACM-W scholarships have been instrumental in providing crucial support for women in computer science and related fields, enabling them to attend pivotal computing research conferences. These scholarships have not only paved the way for educational growth but also fostered diverse and impactful careers. Join us as we explore in this article the history, impact, and future of the ACM-W Scholarship program. 

The Scholarships History project team followed up on the historical scholarship data since its inception in 2006 to do a longitudinal assessment of the impact of the scholarship on the educational trajectory and career path of our scholars. The immense work of retrieving scholars, contacting them for their availability for a small survey on their participation in the ACM-W Scholarship program, and experimental data visualization was done by our ACM intern, Sharon Kang. Over the past year, we have been publishing the profiles of selected scholars as part of the “Above and Beyond Scholarship” blog series.  In this post, we highlight the learnings from the project. 

How was the ACM-W Scholarship program born?

Elaine Weyuker, the founder of the Program, saw an urgent need for the program when she was the chair of ACM-W in 2004: “I felt we really needed something that could serve as a recruitment and retention program for young women, particularly something that would encourage them to go on to graduate school. Having taught at  NYU, a major research institution, for almost 20 years, I saw how very few of our  undergraduate women students went on to get PhDs, and I was certain that that  was even more true for students coming from non-research (teaching) colleges.”

The initial program started with a modest budget of $5,000 from ACM-W, and Elaine embarked on an ambitious campaign, reaching out to the chairs of every Computer Science department that is an ACM institutional member, with a request to identify and nominate their top women students and match funding. 

“The first year, we selected 10 students giving each $500 and wrote to their department chair and dean asking them to at least match our scholarship. I also wrote to the chair of each selected conference and asked them to waive the registration fee for our scholars and provide a mentor to help them navigate the conference so that they really benefit from the experience. The vision was to particularly target undergraduate women students who came from non-top tier schools or students who were pursuing a terminal Master’s degree to encourage them to continue,” Elaine explained.

Over nearly two decades, the program expanded by engaging industry partners and has now helped hundreds of young women worldwide seize the opportunity it offers.


The research paints a compelling picture of demographic diversity, successful advancement in studies, and diverse career paths.

Demographic diversity of our scholars?

While the USA and India have the highest number of scholars, the scholarships were awarded to scholars coming from 44 different countries. 

How did our scholars advance in our studies?

We observe a high completion rate of degrees at all levels and Undergraduate and Master’s students embarking on Master’s and PhD degrees. Essentially, 68% of the undergraduate scholars proceeded to complete a graduate degree, either a Master’s or a Ph.D. in computing. 30% of the scholars who were Masters students at the time of scholarship went ahead and completed a Ph.D. degree.

What do our scholars do now?

A large percentage of our scholars continued their journey as researchers in academia, followed by practitioners in software, systems, and hardware and researchers in industry. They make up 62% of the respondents; we do also see a diversity of roles ranging from consultants to entrepreneurs. 

What has been a highlight of attending their conference?

Scholars who received ACM-W scholarships share their experiences through three overarching themes:

1. Validation and Self-confidence

Receiving the ACM-W scholarship gave me validation of my abilities at a time when I was not receiving very much from my graduate program. Although the scholarship provided much-needed financial support for attending a valuable conference, simply receiving the award itself was extremely helpful for my overall confidence and helping me finish my Ph.D.,” expressed a scholar from 2010.

“It helped me to realize that women can be very successful in both academia and industry. I become more proud of my professional experience,” noted another scholar from 2011.

I started to take pride in the fact that I’m in the Computing field as a woman,” concluded another 2015 scholar.

2. Inspiration to continue with graduate studies

Had I not attended, I would likely not have applied to the PhD program at Stanford; attending graduate school was a pivotal choice in shaping my career,” said a scholar from 2007.

The conference exposed me to research and helped me decide to go to grad school for a PhD. The conference was held at CMU, and attending the conference helped me meet my future PhD advisor at CMU”, noted another scholar from 2007.

Attending the conference helped me realize that I wanted to proceed with a career in research, and it is one of the main reasons I applied for a PhD,” shared a scholar from 2019.

3. Building a lasting network of opportunities

Being able to attend the ICPC conference thanks to the ACM-W scholarship helped me feel part of a research community and feel like I have found my place in the field. I have been involved with that conference (ICPC) ever since, acting as Steering Committee Member, Steering Committee Chair, Program Chair, Track Chair, and Publicity Chair over the years since the first conference I attended. It has remained the conference and the community where I feel most comfortable and welcome, all thanks to that first conference I was able to attend,” recounted a scholar from 2008.

The networking at that conference helped me make connections that led to my first job after my master’s,” noted a scholar from 2011.

I could attend the conference thanks to the scholarship and was offered a postdoctoral fellowship during this conference,” explained another scholar from 2013.


As we reflect on the journey from 2006 to 2021, connecting with past scholars has been both insightful and rewarding. Several key conclusions have emerged:

  • The opportunity to attend a Computer Science research conference when one is a student is invaluable with respect to future professional choices. 
  • There is a good diversity among the scholars’ countries of origin, but we acknowledge we have more work to do.
  • Our scholars predominantly shared feelings of gratitude towards ACM-W and shared eagerness to give back. 

As we expand the scholarship criteria to non-CS and interdisciplinary students engaging in computing research, we believe we are moving in a step in the right direction. Since May 2020, we have considered applications from Mathematics, Statistics, Media studies, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Design, Transport Studies, Life Sciences and Health, Medicine, Learning Technologies, Neuroscience, Veterinary Sciences, and Mechanical engineering. In the span of August 2020 to February 2023, 27 applicants from non-CS departments have applied for the scholarship, and 12 were awarded; that is, on average, 3 out of 4 cycles see a non-CS applicant awarded a scholarship. We look forward to supporting even more women as they pursue their dreams in computing.

Current Scholarship Offerings and Application Procedure

The current ACM-W scholarship program for women students—both undergraduate and graduate—in computer science and correlated disciplines is categorized into two types based on the geographical proximity of the computing research conference: 

  1. up to $600 for intra-continental and 
  2. up to $1200 for intercontinental conference travel.

To apply, candidates are required to create an ACM web account and fill out the scholarship application form. The form encapsulates personal details, specifics about the conference they wish to attend, a statement articulating the motivation behind attending the conference, and a support letter from their academic advisor.  We at ACM-W ardently encourage the home departments of our scholarship recipients to match the scholarship award, thus locally acknowledging and celebrating the students’ achievements. This initiative not only provides financial support but also cultivates a community of women scholars, where we together foster a culture of inclusivity and academic excellence in the field of computing.

The application timelines are meticulously structured with six distinct deadlines throughout the year, catering to different conference dates. For instance, for conferences occurring between December 1, 2023, and January 30, 2024, the application deadline is set for October 15, 2023. All dates can be found on the ACM-W scholarships page. We are looking forward to receiving your applications.

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Hsiu-Chin Lin

Hsiu-Chin Lin profile photo
Hsiu-Chin Lin

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: 2008

Country of Origin: Taiwan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hsiu-Chin Lin Social Profile

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

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

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

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

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

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

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Adriana Wilde, PhD

Dr Adriana Wilde

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

Country of Origin: Venezuela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

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

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

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

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

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Dilrukshi Gamage, PhD

Dilrukshi Gamage is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Tokyo Institute of Technology

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

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dilrukshi with her family

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

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

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

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

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

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

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Lauren Cairco Dukes, PhD

Lauren Cairco Dukes is a software engineer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren with her son

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren’s career path

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Nova Ahmed, PhD

Professor Nova Ahmed is a computer scientist living in Bangladesh, teaching at North South University.

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: ACM/IFP/Usenix Middleware 2008

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

Dr Nova Ahmed is a computer scientist living in Bangladesh. She has finished her PhD at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and came back to Bangladesh to make changes. She used her experiences working with sensors to fight social challenges, such as systems protecting women from sexual harassment. She continues to use her work that could support marginal communities with low-cost, locally available solutions. She has worked with Google to explore the inclusion of women and marginal communities in technology. She is currently working on a funded project to enhance the inclusion of women in digital finance by enabling better technology designs funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work ensures social justice and feminist human-computer interaction.

Nova is a Professor at North South University. A founder and EC of National Young Academy Bangladesh, former EC of Global Young Academy, EC of Biomedical Research Foundation Fellow of Sangat, the feminist network in South Asia, and founding board member of Kaan Pete Roi: a suicide prevention call centre. She is an active volunteer in Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad, Children’s Science Congress and Missing Daughter’s Initiative. She has organized the Ada Lovelace Celebration to include more women in technology in Bangladesh for 2020 and 2021. In her free time, she is busy with her two daughters and a fun partner! 

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

The scholarship experience enabled me to attend a conference when I was feeling that I was falling behind having a newborn baby; it gave me the strength I needed to find my confidence. It was amazing. I received it at a time when that assurance was needed. I recommended many others to apply for it, and several of my young colleagues and students from Bangladesh received it.

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

I received an ACM-W scholarship to join a conference in 2008, right after I had a baby girl. I was feeling very down at that time as it was the middle of my PhD, and I was feeling sluggish and slow. The scholarship was a window for me to look away and look at what I was doing from afar. It was an amazing experience for me. I also realized how much I missed my baby girl being away from her! I wish everyone else could get this support when they need a boost. I have recommended many I mentored to apply for the ACM-W scholarship once I received it (and many have achieved it).

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

I returned to Bangladesh after finishing my PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA. I was able to apply many things I learned to solve local problems taking into account the local context here. I am proud that I am working in a developing country, teaching young ones here who would be able to dream big and contribute where it is most needed.

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

In a developing country, resource constraint is a challenge where staying connected and joining international conferences and workshops become challenging. I wish there were more opportunities for mid-career and senior women who are in economically backward regions. The funding structure and country-wide priorities are very different here compared to developed ones.

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

It’s a lot of fun; please consider it! You can code anything you can dream of and beyond!

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Julita Inca Chiroque

Julita Inca Chiroque has a high profile in High-Performance Computing and participated in the trailer of ISC 2023, the HPC Conference, along with the most experienced HPC authorities around the world.

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 2012

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

Julita Inca Chiroque is a High-Performance Computing Scientist. She has worked as a High-Performance Computing Software Specialist in the nuclear fusion field at UKAEA after graduating with a Master’s in High-Performance Computing at the University of Edinburgh in 2019. She has previous experience in High-Performance Computing in the U.S. at ORNL, where she worked with supercomputers such as Titan and Summit in 2018. Julita has over 10 years of experience working on worldwide Linux projects such as GNOME and Fedora. She has also been working in the IT industry in Peru for companies such as IBM, GMD and Atento Peru. She was a researcher and lecturer at universities in Peru, such as UNI, USIL and PUCP. She works as a reviewer of the Technological Magazine of ESPOL-RTE and also as an online trainer at BackTrackAcademy. She is a creative professional who writes actively in her blog. She is a worldwide speaker, graphic designer, content creator, press communicator, and photographer.

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

It was the first time I went to an overseas conference of outstanding and innovative private companies such as Google, IBM, Xerox and other top universities such as Uni of Texas, Illinois, Manchester, Hong Kong, and others. I was able to witness PhD and MS-level cutting-edge projects. This strongly inspired me to be an excellent Computer Science professional.

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

Being one of the three winners in the ACM-W around the world positively impacted my career; it encouraged me to start off my computer science career in an international way. I was able to see how many successful women were directors and insightful leaders in the field. It gave me the confidence to plot my own path to success.

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

I am proud of being a role model for many students and professionals around the world. GNOME and Fedora mostly helped me to broaden my exposition on this matter. I was able to be a leader in my community, and in my role as an ambassador, for the part of the world from where I come.

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

This computer world is led by a guys club. I did not only feel the difference of being a woman in IT in Peru, but I also felt the same in the two countries I have worked for, such as the US and the UK. I am still working on being a calm thinker like some of my male colleagues. However, I also feel my communication and interpersonal skills put me ahead.

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

First of all, determine the path in computing you want to follow. Nowadays, we have AI, HPC, data analysis, quantum computing, and other subsections that are part of the computing world. As soon as you decide your path, learn the algorithms that rule that sub-field. The programming language is later. You can study the impact of how to apply that technology in a specific sector, to finally choose an organization according to your knowledge and values.

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

Like all stories of success, I faced several failures in my life, but I learned from those early failures. That made me the strong, positive, ambitious woman I am today. I developed my creativity by learning new skills every day. I am still learning, looking to improve myself each day, not just to be a better professional but also to better serve the community around me.

Above and Beyond Scholarship – Vetria Byrd, PhD

Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: Life Sciences Society Computational Systems Bioinformatics Conference, 2006

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

Dr Vetria Byrd is a Computer Scientist and Biomedical Engineering by training, and a Visualization Scientist by experience. She is an Associate Professor of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University, the founder of BPViz: Broadening Participation in Visualization Workshop and a member of ACM and IEEE. Dr Byrd’s research practice focuses on building the data visualization capacity of novice visualizers. Her research practices are informed by research interests: data visualization pedagogy, visualizing heterogeneous data, utilizing visualization techniques to advance the study, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 

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

Relationship and network building with conference attendees whom I remained in contact with and would become mentors and supporters of me throughout my career.

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

The travel scholarship from ACM-W to attend the  2006 Life Sciences Society Computational Systems Bioinformatics Conference at Stanford University, led to valuable networking that would prove beneficial in my career as I continued to earn graduate degrees and attend other conferences.

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

I am the first in my family to earn a PhD and go on to earn tenure at a research-intensive university. This is an achievement for my family, for me and for other first-generation graduates. It shows it can be done! Earning the PhD has opened up many professional doors. I am most proud of persevering and not giving up (even when there were far too MANY, justifiable reasons to do so). I am most proud of using the trials and triumphs as learning experiences to inform how to navigate the landscape of being an African American female in STEM. 

After completing 2019 5K Cupcake Run/Walk for public education

What aspects of your career have you found challenging?

I have found every step/stage of my career has been made of character-building experiences. There are challenges associated with being the only female, being the only person of color, in some cases, being the only American in my graduate programs, dealing with microaggressions, having to prove your worth every single day, and the list goes on. Challenges build character, which builds resilience, and faith in a higher power. I have learned how to be an advocate not only for others but also for myself.

Was the connection to ACM-W helpful or important in any immediate way, and in any lasting way?

I am the founder of BPViz: Broadening Participation in Visualization Workshop. The 1st Biennial BPViz Workshop was funded by NSF and CRA-W/Coalition to Diversify Computing. Utilizing connections made by way of the conference I attended in 2006, I was able to reach out to colleagues in 2014 who showed up in support of the initiative. That initiative led to NSF funding to host the first REU Site with a primary focus on Data Visualization. The funding from ACM-W helped build professional relationships and confidence, enabling me to continue my academic journey from PhD to Associate Professor. 

I am forever grateful for the opportunities, and lasting professional and mentoring opportunities the ACM-W Travel Scholarship has afforded me.

Announcing the New ACM-W “Above and Beyond Scholarship” project

We are delighted to introduce “Above and Beyond Scholarship”, a special project focused on the ACM-W Scholarships Program. The ACM-W Scholarships provide support for women undergraduate and graduate students in Computer Science and related programs to attend computing research conferences.  The project aims to follow up on the historical scholarship data since its inception in 2006 to do a potential longitudinal assessment of the impact of the scholarship on the educational trajectory and career path of our scholars.

The project team worked very hard to reach out to approximately 400 scholars, and with a 40% return rate, the team was blown away by the success stories shared with them.  So, we are starting an interview series, “Above and Beyond Scholarship”, where we will share and celebrate the individual success stories of our scholars. We will be publishing these stories on our ACM-W website, social media channels, and also the ACM-W newsletter. 

Listen from Dr Bushra Anjum, Dr Viviana Bono, and Sharon Kang about how they brought this project to life. 

And stay tuned!