Author Archives: Bev Bachmayer

Meeting Women from Around the World – Crossing Borders

As the 3rd ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing kicked off inLinz, Austria, the first thought that came to mind was the theme of the event: Crossing Borders.  It was evident that we were in the presence of many different cultures and people from many countries.  The diversity was obvious when looking at the geographic origins of attendees, who came from four out of five continents, from as far west as Colorado in the US, to as far south as South Africa and as far east as Russia.  Attendees also had diverse interests. Thirty-two posters were presented  demonstrating the diversity of attendees’ studies: from benchmarking of linked 20160912152058-14fd1f98-even-smallerdata, neural networks, image processing, autonomous vehicles, tools for dyslexia, the list goes on and on.  The program underscored the diversity of the event: from programming in Android, to computational music,  perception, programming languages, entrepreneurship,wrapping up with a lively panel discussion.  With this event we crossed more than just geographical borders, we also shared our technology, cultural and networking interests.

It was a day that was diverse in many ways but one: gender.  Ninety-seven percent of the audience was female, which one would think is the desired target of such an event.  However, in order to promote and impact diversity in the computer science community we need to bring men into the discussion.  Our goal in the future should be to be inclusive of individuals from all backgrounds, cultures and genders.

JpegAt 16:00 on the 12th of September the Management Zentrum at Johannes Kepler Universitat in Linz, Austria began filling up.  Students hung their posters, networked with new friends and visited with representatives from industry who came to show their support.  The career fair is a very popular event for students and faculty at the university.  Feedback from students indicates that they value the interaction with industry representatives and see it as a major opportunity. Besides networking with the other attendees, they enjoy hearing about opportunities in industry.  ACM-W Europe and the womENcourage attendees are thankful for our supporters who provided the opportunity for 50 students to attend the womENcourage 2016.

SIGPLAN,  GOOGLE, Bloomberg, Oracle, Informatics Europe,  Intel and FreeBSD

The entire program has been recorded and is available on the ACM YouTube channel.   _MG_9160

The day kicked off with the first keynote by Lynda Hardman from CWI in the Netherlands,  her keynote address: “From Linked Data to Stories”  conveyed to the audience the assimilation of data into a story and how data taken out of context can convey a message not intended by the speaker.  This was an interesting start of a wonderful day.  The video of the presentation can be found here.

_MG_9170Android Development at Google” where  Robin Bennett, Google discussed her experience of learning programming for Android inspired the participants to learn the ins and outs of Android programming.  I heard from one of her professors at Imperial College, London that while she was studying at Imperial College London,  she shied away from programming.  Now through this talk she is encouraging women to program for Android with detailed examples and lots of enthusiasm. Her experiences of learning Android programming were inspiring and interesting.  Watch the video.Gerhard Widmer music

The diversity of the program was engaging.  With each presenter discussing a different topic
we were exposed to very different areas of computing.  The keynote: “
Computational Music Perception”  by Gerhard Widmer from Johannes Kepler University was incredibly enlightening; first by understanding that  people play different pieces of music according to their moods and then by demonstrating the research required for computers to play in a similar manner really makes one consider the possibilities for careers and research. A talk such as this one clearly demonstrates the vast number of opportunities in the tech field.  

Susan Sigplan talkProgramming languages are part of the core software required for computer programming. SIGPLAN is a supporter for womENcourage 2016.  In her talk  “Programming Language Research and Technical Disruption” , Susan Eisenbach of Imperial College London demonstrated how programming languages affect both financial and cybersecurity, and how programming languages can incorporate features that help us stay secure. Watch the video._MG_9506

The final keynote of the day  “Cross-disciplinary Modeling” presented by Gerti Kappel, Technical University of Vienna exemplified how modeling can address the issues of distributed computing.  Learning about new areas and topics incomputing can engage our curiosity about other topics and lead us along the path of lifelong learning. Watchthe video.

_MG_9520Entrepreneurship can help you reach goals beyond your reach when the necessary resources are not under your control.  “Entrepreneurship: the value of teams and social capital’ presented by NatasaMilic-Frayling, University of Nottingham, detailed the steps, and resources necessary to bring an idea to market.  Networking connects you to the rest of the ecosystem, using your social capital, which is your network and their reputation.  Watch the video.

  1. A Panel of Successful Computer Scientists


ACM-W Europe womENcourage 2016 wrapped up with a panel discussion on the topic  “
Promoters and Prohibitors for a Career in CS” led by Dame Wendy Hall, University of Southampton, along with the panelists:

  • Becky Plummer, Bloomberg LP
  • Pearl Pu, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • Toni Collis, University of Edinburgh
  • Jane Richardson, Oracle Academy

Dame Wendy Hall opened the panel by asking the panelists what has helped them to get where they are today, and what are their top tips for the audience. Top tips from the panelists include:

  • Continue to network. One of the most important things you can do is networking. As with the womENcourage event and its diverse topics, networking helps you look at things differently.
  • Your network is your job and career, you can be working on a global job from anywhere in the world.
  • Get advice on and ask someone to review your CV.   
  • Listen to all the advice you are given but take only those that you really feel will be important for you.
  • When you are curious about a topic, persist and acquire necessary skills.
  • If you are going to have technical interviews get involved with hackathons.
  • Distinguish people around you who are promoters.
  • Make your own physical and mental health a priority, meditate and practice yoga.
  • Don’t worry if you do not want to be perfect.
  • Most of us experience “imposter syndrome”.  In order to counter this, have advocates who you trust, who reinforce to you your qualities and accomplishments.
  • There is a huge demand for talent in the industry. The demand is there for you.
  1. Closing thoughts for #womENcourage2016. Looking forward to #womENcourage2017

ACM-WE is thankful to the organizer, volunteers and the attendees of womENcourage 2016 to make it a success. womENcourage 2017 is planned to take place on September 6-8, 2017 at Barcelona.


An interview with ACM-W Europe Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage 2016 keynote speaker Prof. Gerhard Widmer 



The program committee of ACM-W Europe womENcourage 2016 announces that Gerhard Widmer, a professor at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, where he heads the Institute
for Computational Perception, will present a keynote address at the 3rd womENcourage. In addition to his work at JKU, Gerhard also founded and leads the Intelligent Music Processing and Machine Learning Group at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI), Vienna. He is a Fellow of the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI),
and the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant (2015) of the European Research Council.

His keynote address intends to give the audience a glimpse of what it means for a computer to ‘perceive’ and in some (limited) sense ‘understand’ music, and what such musically literate machines can do for us. In particular, he will show how computers can give us new insights into the complex and subtle art of music performance; how they enable us to intuitively explore large sound and music collections; and how they will provide the basis for humans to interact with music in new ways. The goal of this talk is not so much to explain the mathematical and algorithmic details of the underlying methods, but to motivate and inspire the conference participants to consider music as an exciting and rewarding and worthwhile field for computer science research.

Bev Bachmayer spoke to Gerhard about his planned presentation and his motivation for speaking.

Bev: In your opinion, why should students attend womENcourage 2016?

Gerhard: It is a great opportunity to get to know interesting and nice and like-minded persons (of either sex). You get to learn about what they do, get inspired by their ideas and enthusiasm and big and small successes. You can find out that you are not the only person in the world facing certain difficulties, and get inspiration from how others deal with these.

Bev: What do you hope the attendees will take away from your talk?

Gerhard: That computer science is an exciting field, and that there are still many open research frontiers. And that scientific research is beautiful and even fun (sometimes).

Bev: Why is womENcourage important to you?

Gerhard: Because its goals are important. The field of computer science is in dire need of creative young researchers, and we should do anything we can to encourage them to venture into this field, to connect to others, and to persevere. Actually, the word that I like best in the conference’s self-description is celebration: it’s not (only) about problems of women in computer science, it’s also about opportunities, successful role models, inspiration, and creative ideas.

Bev: Why did you choose your topic for womENcourage?

Gerhard: My goal is to encourage and motivate students to consider computer science as an exciting research field, and one that has more facets than they might have thought. And I believe the best and most convincing way to do so is to talk about things that are close to one’s heart — and that, in my case, is music, computational music research, and how it connects both scientific and technological and human questions.

Ada’s Legacy was celebrated at ADA University in Azerbaijan


Attendees at the ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing.

The first ever ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing in Azerbaijan was held at ADA University on 30 April. Just two days before the university was hosting the UN-sponsored International Girls in ICT Day. Visitors were puzzled by the question posted next to a life-size figure of a Victorian age lady: “Do you know who she is? You may take her photo and image-search in Google or you may come here on Saturday, 30 April at 14:00”. Taking selfies and posing with her, not many recognized Ada Lovelace – the first programmer in the human history.


Azerbaijan ACM Chapter with support from ADA University and ACM-W Europe brought together more than 80 students, researchers and professionals from academia and industry to celebrate women in computing, as well as promote ACM-W Europe Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage 2016 conference.  ACM-W Europe chair Reyyan Ayfer, who traveled to Baku, set the tone for motivational speeches in the first part of the event. Other speakers presenting their personal story of a woman in computing included a highly decorated academician, who back in 1970’s took a challenge of studying in one of the leading research centres abroad, an honorary engineer, who serves as director of technologies in a local industry leader, an entrepreneur, who is actively promoting women participation through the Femmes Digitales club, and two sisters from a province, who won the 2nd prize in the global finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup competition last year. After the break two potential entries for womENcourage conference were presented to the panel to get their feedback.

The positive atmosphere and active open discussions encouraged the participants increased the participation through the extended schedule. Two nation-wide television channels and a popular internet radio aired reports about the gathering. The post-event survey showed that more than 70% of respondents rated it as outstanding, the rest as an excellent event.image-29

ACM-W Europe Celebration of Women in Computing

womENcourage 2016 CALL for Posters
Linz, Austria, September 12-13

The ACM-W Europe Celebration of Women in Computing (womENcourage 2016) aims to celebrate, connect, inspire, and encourage women in computing. The conference brings together undergraduate, MSc, and PhD students, as well as researchers and professionals, to present and share their achievements and experience in computer science.

WomENcourage solicits posters from all areas of Computer Science. Posters offer the opportunity to engage with other conference attendees, disseminate research work, receive comments, practice presentation skills, benefit from discussing ideas with other researchers from the same field.

Submissions should present novel ideas, designs, techniques, systems, tools, evaluations, scientific investigations, methodologies, social issues or policy issues related to any area of computing. Authors may submit original work or versions of previously published work. Posters are ideal for presenting early stage research. There will be two poster categories, one for undergraduate students and one for graduate (MSc and PhD) students.

Posters are to be submitted electronically through EasyChair at Submissions should introduce the area in which the work has been done and should emphasize the originality and importance of the contribution. All submissions must be in English, in pdf format. They must not exceed one page in length and they must use the ACM conference publication format.  This one-page extended abstract must be submitted to EasyChair as a paper which also contains a short (one paragraph) abstract.  Poster abstracts that do not follow the submission guidelines will not be reviewed.

All submissions will be peer reviewed by an international Poster Evaluation Committee. Accepted submissions will be archived on the conference website (but there will be no proceedings). The Guide to a Successful Submission provides tips for preparing a good poster and provides information about the reviewing criteria.

At least one author of each accepted submission is expected to attend the conference to present the ideas discussed in the submission. Information about student scholarships for accepted posters is available here.


Important Dates

Poster abstracts due May 9, 2016
Notification of accepted posters June 13, 2016
Final poster abstracts due due June 27, 2016
Poster pdf due August 1, 2016


Poster Evaluation Committee


  1. Susanne Albers, Technische Universität München, Germany
  2. Georgios Chalkiadakis, Technical University of Crete, Greece
  3. Arsenia Chorti, University of Essex, UK
  4. Antinisca Di Marco,  University of L’Aquila, Italy
  5. Alev Elci, Aksaray University, Turkey
  6. Panagiota Fatourou, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas & University of Crete, Greece (chair)
  7. Paraskevi Fragopoulou, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, and Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  8. Irini Fundulaki, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  9. Fabrizio Gagliardi, Microsoft Research Center, Barcelona, Spain
  10. Judith Gal-Ezer, Open University of Israel, Israel
  11. George Giakkoupis, IRISA/INRIA Rennes, France
  12. Elizabeth Godoy, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, USA
  13. Saskia Groenewegen, SPAX Solution, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  14. Marieke Huisman, University of Twente, The Netherlands
  15. Paola Inverardi, University of L’Aquila, Italy
  16. Eleni Kanellou, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  17. Kleanthi Lakiotaki, University of Crete, Greece
  18. Maria Markaki, University of Crete, Greece
  19. Vangelis Markakis, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece
  20. Euripides Markou, University of Thessaly, Greece
  21. Bilha Mendelson, Optitura,  Israel
  22. Alessia Milani, University of Bordeaux, France
  23. Athanasia Panousopoulou, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  24. Vassilis Papaefstathiou, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
  25. Marina Papatriantafilou, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
  26. Sebastiano Peluso, Virginia Tech, USA
  27. Evaggelia Pitoura, University of Ioannina, Greece
  28. Mema Roussopoulos, University of Athens, Greece
  29. Maria Serna, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain
  30. Romina Spalazzese, Malmö University, Sweden
  31. Christi Simeonidou, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  32. Pinar Tozun, IBM Almaden Research Center, USA
  33. Ageliki Tsioliaridou, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Greece
  34. Christos Tzagkarakis, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands



It’s Confirmed: Women Love Tech!  

And the participants of ACM-W Europe womENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing deemed that the Celebration was a huge success! Over 180 participants from 28 countries attended the womENcourage Celebration which exceeded their expectations from the lively socializing during the career fair and the poster session before the opening Keynote on Friday 25th September until the ending Keynote on Saturday afternoon. The attendees participated in several interesting activities including keynote talks, panel discussions, technical paper sessions, workshops, case studies, unconference sessions, and the hackathon. See the photos taken by our photographers, Kristina Lidayova and Tomas Oravec, and view the recorded sessions.


In the opening, Virginia Grande welcomed all womENcouragers attending the celebration at the impressive main building of Uppsala University. She also thanked all of our wonderful sponsors ACM, ACM-W, and Uppsala University, and supporters: Google, Inria, Oracle, Bloomberg, Cisco, Facebook, IAR Systems, FreeBSD, Informatics Europe, Intel and Microsoft Research. As a result of their generous support, 53 students were able to attend the Celebration with travel scholarships.  Virginia did not omit to give special mention to all men in the room. The first speaker ACM President Alex Wolf welcoming everyone to womENcourage,  effectually pointed out that “We would not be here at all if there was not a problem in our community. I want to make sure that all of us understand that this is not a women’s problem! This is a community problem! And it takes everyone to solve this problem.”  

Vicki Hanson’s keynote “The Human Side of Computing”vickie keynote

Vicki Hanson opened womENcourage with a keynote address on her research, highlighting Inclusive Technologies. Computing has often been envisioned as a way of augmenting human abilities.    Nowhere is such a computing goal more evident than in the field of accessibility where researchers seek to create devices and software to address needs of people who through age or disability face exclusion from full societal participation.   In creating accessible technology and novel accessibility tools, research has not only facilitated digital interactions and quality of life needs for many, but also has served to advance the field of computing more generally. By talking about her career and how she advanced, she encouraged the audience to think about opportunities in computing.

Åsa Cajander’s keynote “On Grit and Being the Token Figure”

Åsa’s talk about “On Grit and Being the Token Figure” brought up many of the topics that most of the women in the audience have experienced.  Many a somber faces listened to her tell her story,  each knowingly nodding as they were reminded of similar situations they had experienced.

AsaCMany kinds of grit are needed to survive in our current environment, Asa confirmed that we are not alone when faced with such circumstances. Asa said “Change comes slowly, but it is changing, we all need to continue to encourage these changes.”  The recording for this talk is here.


Marie-Paule Cani’s keynote “Towards Expressive 3D Modeling: An example of Career in Computer Graphic”      marie-paule audience

Through examples and videos Marie-Paule taught us why graphical design is essential for human creativity, including the fact that graphical simulation is difficult to control, and she described the new methodology which is emerging to ease the interactive design of complex shapes, objects and characters, possibly in motion.  During her summary she 2015-09-26 160523advised everyone to collaborate with others to succeed.  She also talked about being flexible when looking for a career.  And she emphasized that you should choose your own field,  twist your work to be what you want and to be open to opportunities. You can watch the recording here.


Red Chair  

Sitting on the red chair is symbolic. People sit on the red chair to recognize tSitWithMe12smallhe stories’ and contributions of women in computing.

During the entire celebration, the attendees enjoyed writing their quotes and having their photos taken while sitting on the Red Chair supporting the SitwithMe campaign. Read more about the SitwithMe  website and see the pictures taken during the celebration on their website.


Panel Discussions

WomENcourage hosted three panel discussions which provided participants with substantial insight into the following interesting topics from varying perspectives:

  1. Open Source as a Career PathPanel2
  2. Teaching and Learning 3.0
  3. Out of the Ordinary Jobs

Thanks to our fabulous panelists, attendees were given the opportunity to actively participate, ask and discuss questions during the panels.  All panels have been recorded and are available here.


Through the papers sessions, undergraduate, MSc, and PhD students were given the opportunity to present and share their current research work and their achievements with researchers and professionals who were attending the conference and receive valuable feedback by them. The womENcourage programme included 4 sessions of technical talks which aimed at sharing research ideas and discussing exciting new research directions.

The topics of the presented papers belong in the following four categories:

  •         Computing to Assist Disabled Individuals or Older Adults,
  •         Computation and Graphics,
  •         Human-Computer Interaction, and
  •         Gender issues in computing education.

All presented papers were interesting and they represented a decent range of topics in computing research. Their presentations resulted in four active paper sessions with several questions and interesting discussions following each talk.  The papers are posted on the womENcourage website here.


 The  unconference sessions effectuated interesting discussions on one or more subjects suggested by their participants who are also actively involved in the discussions. Thus, they were organized, structured, and led by their attendees. Once the idea of the Unconference was introduced to womENcourage attendees (at the beginning of the conference), they enthusiastically reacted by suggesting interesting topics that they wanted to discuss. Based on their suggestions, womENcourage hosted five unconference sessions on the following subjects: Feminism in computing, Women in computing: work-life balance, Improper Syndrome, Data mining, and Learning analytics on the second day of the conference and lasted for an hour each. They were all very successful with a lot of attendees being involved in them which resulted in lively and interesting discussions.


 ‘The workshops were brilliant, I really enjoyed the hands on experience” echos the resounding message from the participants.  Each of the 7 workshops were well attended and they all learned something new from basic electronics to creating wearables to understanding open source code.  Each of the workshops were created by dedicated volunteers who put their time and money into teaching something new: 

  • Making Your Ideas into Realityworkshop
  • Coding for All
  • Prototyping: Wearable Electronics
  • Introducing Alice
  • Contributing to Open Source
  • Queer Women in Tech
  • ACM-W Volunteers

Results of the feedback shows that this was the most requested part of the program, each of the sessions were full and even had waiting lists.

ACM-W Europe and Coddess Hackathon sponsored by Intel and Microsoft Research

hackathonThe Hackathon kicked off the womENcourage Celebration in Uppsala. At around 8:30 on Thursday morning, the participants, who came from 17 different countries, began arriving and they were immediately encouraged to mingle and discuss projects. Quickly we saw teams forming and project enthusiasm grow. After a short introduction and some technical instructions, they perused the hardware, collecting sensors and boards, and began with the discussion planning and the implementation of their projects. Team members collaborated nicely and we could see that they became fast friends.

The winning team came from 4 countries: Palestine, Burma, Russia and Sweden. Their project, called “Free Fall”, created a device which can be attached to a person’s wrist or belt and alert if the person suddenly faces a fall.  Specifically, in case of a fall, the proposed device takes the following actions:

  1. If the person is unconscious it will contact the person’s primary contact stored in the device
  2. If the person is conscious, s/he is given the capability to push a button to cancel the produced alert
  3. The capability to contact a secondary contact, stored in the device, is also provided.

The second award called “SAfeHome” went to a portable CO2 and gas alarm system which would be used in houses that have no electricity and that heat with propane.  The idea was that this could save many people in impoverished areas of India and Africa. The device would be inexpensive and easily able to carry with you to use in any situation.

The third award was given to the project “Be My Eyes” which designed a device useful for visually impaired people. The device can be put on their walking stick to provide information about the site they are on, obstacles that they have to avoid, or tourist attractions that are nearby. The device uses GPS which interfaces via Bluetooth to other devices.

At the end of day, there were participants that admitted: “This is the most fun I have had in one day EVER!”   

Thanks to celebration committee, who worked hard to make womENcourage 2015 a big success!


Following this big success, plans are set in place for the next womENcourage 2016 in Linz, Austria, next September.



Women in HPC

Two years ago, the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) set up the Women in High Performance Computing to address the gender imbalance in High Performance Computing (HPC).  Women in HPC is a network that supports collaboration and networking by bringing together female HPC scientists, researchers, developers, users and technicians from across Europe.

The Women in High Performance Computing (WHPC) Network works to raise the professional profile of Women in HPC by:

  • Bringing together female HPC scientists, researchers, developers, users and technicians;
  • Raising the professional profile of women working in HPC;
  • Increasing the participation of women in outreach activities;
  • Assessing the influence of equality initiatives on the HPC community.

To encourage women to participate in HPC Women in HPC aims to:

  • Increase the visibility of experienced female role models in HPC;
  • Provide opportunities for networking amongst women in HPC, both peer-to-peer and peer-to-role model;
  • Raise awareness that gender-balancing of research groups improves scientific output.

This initiative encourages women working with HPC to engage in outreach activities and improve the visibility of inspirational role models. Its activities are complemented by providing opportunities for networking amongst women in HPC, both peer-to-peer and peer-to-role model and raise awareness that gender-balancing of research groups improves scientific output.

Gender inequality is a key problem across all scientific disciplines, both in academia and industry. The European Commission report on gender inequality (published in 2012, but using figures from 2009-2010) shows that, across the 27 countries in the EU, there is a significant gender gap in science education and beyond (Laroche 2013). These figures indicate that women educated to tertiary level were more likely to have a technical or professional job than men with a similar level of education. Despite this, women were found to be less likely to be scientists or engineers than men and were less likely to use a science-based PhD in a research career than men.

HPC is a discipline that spans multiple traditional science subjects and relies on leading-edge scientific research. It would be plausible that the gender inequality issue, which has been identified and quantified across many fields of science and scientific research, is overcome by the broad range of traditional subjects that contribute towards HPC. However, research by

Women in HPC has found that women make up between 5% and 17% of HPC users, researchers and conference attendees. For example at the largest supercomputing conference in the world in 2014, SC14, only 11% of the attendees were female, at EASC 2015 the proportion of women was 15%, but for the more specialist conference PGAS 2013, only 5.1% of the attendees were women. The numbers improve slightly when considering participants in HPC: of the registered users of the UK national HPC facility, ARCHER, 17% are female.

Despite an apparently low starting point, the supercomputing community has an opportunity to take advantage of its multi-disciplinary roots and encourage women from diverse backgrounds into the field of HPC. To motivate action, we must measure and publicise the magnitude of the problem we face. To be effective, we must understand why women do not pursue careers in HPC so that our efforts can be appropriately targeted.

Women in HPC run annual events at the two largest HPC conferences in the world: ISC, SC. In addition we run one UK workshop as well as training in HPC specifically for women. In July 2015 we signed our first international agreement, welcoming Compute Canada as our first international chapter. In collaboration with PRACE Women in HPC has run a training and networking event at the PRACEDays 2015 conference in Dublin, Ireland and we have jointly published a ‘Women in HPC’ magazine highlighting the impact of the work done by women using European HPC facilities. However, with no more than 17% of HPC users being female, the HPC community and the work done by Women in HPC still has a long way to go.

The next upcoming event will be the third international Women in HPC workshop at Supercomputing 2015 on November 20th in Austin, Texas. The workshop aims to address gender issues in HPC research and innovation, the challenges facing women and how gender inequality can impact efficacy of the scientific method and research quality. It will include talks from female early career researchers panel discussions on how to improve diversity in HPC as well as an invited talk by researchers working on addressing the gender imbalance in HPC
There are some opportunities to foster a relationship between ACM-W and Women in HPC.

Come to the ACM Volunteer workshop to know more or approach to the poster session in ACM womENcourage 2015!


Women in HPC:
Laroche, Gilles et al. She Figures 2012 – Gender in Research and Innovation. European Commission, Germany: European Union, 2013.
Williams Woolley, Anita, Christopher F. Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone. “Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups.” Science 330, no. 6004 (10 2010): 686-688.
Supercomputing 2014,,
3rd Annual Exascale and Applications Software Conference, EASC 2014,, EPCC, University of Edinburgh
7th international conference on PGAS programming models, PGAS2013,, EPCC, University of Edinburgh
ARCHER,, EPSRC and EPCC, University of Edinburgh
Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE),

Steam Camp

Growing together

Thursday aftIMG_0350webernoon, after the drag races, we began working on implementing WIFI with the Intel Galileo boards, the girls worked again in teams of 2 to follow the directions we had prepared, no hesitation exists anymore in trying new ideas or going beyond the initial instructions. As they had put LEDs on their cars for headlights and taillights and programmed the turns and twists of the race, they now tested and implemented the WIFI and then began discussing the guidelines for the next week’s projects. I was amazed at how competent they had become in just a few days. They were to use the knowledge they had gained this week to plan a project that would have impact on their community. Some continued to enhance the cars they built earlier, others change the overall design of their ideas to begin the idea of the project they would complete.. All of them were engaged and ready to move forward with new team members. I heard several ideas as teams were being formed. Guidelines stated they needed a country diverse group (no more than two team members from the same country) but they were not restricted to their current classrooms. As we wrapped up the last session of the day, I knew in my mind that the next week was going to be more amazing than this week. Looking back, I think I learned more from this group of students than they learned from me. Teaching is an art that grows with experience and this experience has changed the way I teach.

Final week

IMG_0659webMonday morning started with a beautiful sunrise. From my hotel I could see the sliver of a moon as the sun rose with the red hues of morning light. This was the beginning of our final week. We no longer had content to prepare or teach, the week and the progress was totally dependent upon the projects that our students dreamed about. With the partners we encouraged the teams to develop a project abstract that would allow us to evaluate and give feedback on their ideas. Some teams had decided upon the project and were already working on implementation. Other teams had multiple ideas and they could not decide which to implement, they wanted me to decide for them, which I could not do.

Five projects were assigned to my room, I have different girls than last week, some I know from last week and some I get to know this week. Abstracts are written and delivered to be reviewed. We determined the hardware they needed and I collected and brought each team their sensors and other items that were critical to their project. Most of the sensors were new to our technical team so we all picked a few and started testing.  Our worst nightmare was that the students would run into a technical problem that we could not fix. On Monday and Tuesday everything ran smoothly. I was worried about one project as they never seemed to be around and did not appear to be working. After testing the two sensors they needed they were gone, as opposed to a very technical project that was constantly asking for help and to which we kept adding more sensors

We workedIMG_0678web through all the technical topics, they delivered pitches, I listened to them and they listened to me, we worked together, and panicked together when a sensor failed, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when it worked. What was hidden from me, was the work on the presentation and marketing pitches, we focused on the technical and not so much on the rest of the project. This amazing result became evident to me on the final day.  The product and marketing info far surpassed my expectations.IMG_0680web

IMG_0673webI could not be prouder of the results of the IMG_0677webprojects, these young women excelled in everything they did. Even the one where I had concerns, they exceeded my expectations. I post these photos to bear witness to what amazing women were in my group.

As I walked to the last dinner at the camp, 4 young women, my students, approached me and gave me big hugs, they said ‘Thank you for coming to teach us, it is inspiring for us to see a woman in the role of trainer, you have taught us so much, thank you for this, we will never forget!”

I am sitting on the plane the last leg of my journey back to my real job, and home. I am reading the biographies of my students in the handbook, which the girls wrote prior to WiSCI 2015. I am proud of what they learned, proud of how they have changed, and very proud that I had the opportunity to teach them.

Crash Course

Lucky me!!! Selected from a wide field of applicants, I joined the volunteer team from Intel as a technical train20258760082_04ff01f705_zer for WiSCI 2015, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) camp for 120 High School Students from 9 different countries (90 from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and 30 from the USA) . As the only female technical trainer in a team of 4 volunteer technical trainers, I feel especially thankful for this opportunity. After months of preparation and planning we arrived in Rwanda late evening with only 4 days before we would start teaching the girls the basics of programming and electronics using the Intel Galileo Board. I met four of my teammates with whom I had only spoken to on the phone at the airport in Brussels, the other three I met at Kigali airport when we landed. Throwing 8 people into a bus, is certainly a good way to get to know each other, the conversations were fast and furious.


Preparation at the school started Thursday afternoon after a long bus ride, our arrival at Gashora Girls Academy was met with shy hellos and direct questions “Are you the Intel teachers?” The girls were finishing the first week of Codu training from Microsoft and had already heard that we were arriving that afternoon. Unpacking the three pallets of equipment was the first order of business, followed by training the Gashora teachers on Friday morning. Friday afternoon we saw the results of the first week of Codu training when the girls presented the games they had developed. I am amazed at the presence they have during the presentation with each of them pitching their resulting projects. This was the first real impression of the girls, I saw accomplished girls who demonstrated their work, some a bit shy, some confident and others hanging back, standing behind their teammates. I knew the next two weeks would be amazing. 

Monday morning, after a long weekend of setup and finalizing the curriculum and content. I walked into my class of 29 young women, they were all full of smiles and laughter. Most had no experience with programming or electronics, but all were eager to learn. The ratio 3 to 30 (1 teacher from Gashora Girls School, 1 helper from our non-technical team members, and myself as the lead trainer to 30 students) presented a difficult situation. My experience working with younger boys and girls for a class earlier in the year, proved that we needed one helper for two teams of two (4 students), unfortunately we were not afforded that luxury at the WiSci 2015. Working with care and precision through the instructions with breadboards, LEDs, wires and resistors, we finally had smiles and shrieks as one LED after another started blinking. Those smiles are my reward for all the work completed in the previous months.

First morning of classes

First morning of classes

After a short introduction to programming and introducing the sensors of the Seeed Studio Grove Starter Kit, I saw apprehension creeping into the room. The long day began to take its toll and I heard multiple times ‘I don’t understand’. We continued to work slowly toward 6PM, adding more concepts and materials throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Hindsight is always 20-20 vision and I can see now that the day was much too long. In our first debrief at the end of the day, we made our first change to our original plan, slowing down a bit and agreeing to end classes the rest of the week by 5pm instead of 6 in the evening.

The next morning the students were full of excitement, electronic concepts clouded the vision and small technical issues tended to slow the progress of each of the teams. Our technical team worked during lunch again to resolve some issues and after finding a fix, the bright smiles again filled the rooms. Each girl seemed to glow more as the LCD printed the messages, their smiles

Building our cars

Building our cars

and laughter showed a confidence that did not exist before. Two days into the class we already saw the beginnings of makers and ideas as they became creative during the challenge sessions. In the late afternoon the girls were given a kit to build a robot car, in teams of two they began creating the small vehicles that would be their entries into the drag races.

On the third day, technical issues plagued the teams, I went from group to group to resolve issues. Another lunch hour working and finding a fix. Finally we saw robot cars turning and racing across the room, followed by laughing girls and happy faces. Stepping through the code that controls the direction of driving on the robot car, I explained the concepts and more details of programming. Soon the concept of binary numbers, digital writes and reading the sensors

The winning car

The winning car

became old news. The immediate result in the direction of movement gave each of them the confidence to try more programming to see how to make the cars drive in circles and along straight lines. With each turn of the wheel and buzz of the motors, I celebrated the opportunity to see each of them growing their knowledge as well as their confidence. Thankful again that I had this amazing opportunity to share technology with each and every one.

If you haven’t already, please check out some of the documentation of the camp via these photos and videos:

“Meet the Girls” AOL Video:

“Women in Tech” AOL Video:

“The Final Week” AOL Videl:



Improve your bottom line-improve diversity

The question I get asked by my management on a regular basis is how do we find technical women to hire? And the second question is how do we keep the women that we have? Working in this field for the past 30 years where, in the beginning, my group was 60% women, to now, being in a group where I am the only technical female, I understand the concerns of management. It’s definitely a problem!

Because of these concerns, I focus on supporting technical women in any way I am able. One of the most inspiring experiences that I, as a technical woman, have experienced is womENcourage 2014 in Manchester, UK. Women appreciate having women colleagues. ‘Being the only woman in a workplace, or even one of 2 or 3 in a large workplace can be a very isolating experience.’1 The opportunity to meet other technical women, and come to the realization that you are not alone, is a very inspiring and encouraging experience. As an employer, you now have an opportunity to provide this experience to both your female and male employees.  Inspire your employees by sending them to womENcourage 2015. They will thank you for the mentoring, networking and inspiration. You will see a more inspired workforce.

Why is Diversity important?

It has been shown in multiple studies that diversity and gender equality at the management level of a company improves the bottom line of the company. Essentially ‘Companies led by women get better results2 ‘ and it is shown that this improvement in productivity works at all levels of an organization. When you consider that women are most likely the consumer of your products, doesn’t it make sense that having them on the design and development team would make a better product. 3
Even so in STEM fields, both in academia and industry, the number of women are severely lagging behind.

Multiple topics arise when we consider the gender diversity gap.

● ‘My manager says no woman applied for our open positions.’
● Unconscious bias from both women and men interviewers impact the number of women initially hired.
● A friendly workplace helps to retain women.
● Organizations with good management practices retain more women.
Several studies4,5 show that making small changes to address these topics can make a difference.

What can you do?

What can we do to create a work environment that increases the number of women we interview, hire, and retain in our companies?

Quite frankly, we cannot hire women if they do not apply for our positions. That means they need to know positions are available. Changing how and where we post and how we network can increase the number of applications; how we search out and post on mailing lists. Additionally, we need to change the way we write the job description to be more inclusive of women. Lastly, in order to hire women become part of their network, we need to relate to the women, support women and join their network.

It is important to recognize that unconscious bias exists and plan to avoid it, identify fair interview processes, understand interviewing stereotypes that impact how women are perceived.6 Implement an interview plan to determines the best candidate for the position.

Providing both men and women with challenging projects, good development opportunities and a supportive equal environment is just good management. We know that organizations with good management practices retain more women. Creating a welcoming environment for all employees which allows a work life balance, with a positive and respectful environment and with the opportunity for mentoring and networking.

Allowing technical women to develop through networking, challenging projects, mentoring and role models will benefit both the women and the bottom line of your company. womENcourage 2015 provides women with opportunities to expand their network throughout Europe. Your employees can exchange ideas and information with like-minded women and men. Support your employees, send them to womENcourage 2015! Have them register here



Meet the Keynote speakers of womENcourage 2015

As a continuation of the series on keynote speakers of womENcourage 2015, this month we travel to Grenoble, France to meet with Marie-Paule Cani! As a Professor of Computer Science at Grenoble University (Grenoble Institute of Technology & Inria) Marie-Paule is an inspiration to her students and her peers. Her research interests cover both Shape Modelling and Computer Animation. She contributed over the years to a number of high level models for shapes and motion such as implicit surfaces, multi-resolution physically-based animation and hybrid representations for real-time natural scenes. Following a long lasting interest for virtual sculpture, she has been recently searching for more efficient ways to create 3D content such as combining sketch-based interfaces with procedural models expressing a priori knowledge. She received the Eurographics outstanding technical contributions award in 2011 and a silver medal from CNRS in 2012 for this work.

Cani-photoMarie-Paule Cani served in the program committees of all major conferences in computer Graphics and was program chair a number of times. She served in the steering committees of SCA, SBIM and SMI, and in the editorial board of Graphical Models, IEEE TVCG and CGF. She was an EC member of ACM SIGGRAPH from 2007 to 2011, and she represented Computer Graphics in the ACM Publication Board from 2011 to 2014. In France, she belongs to the executive board of the GDR IG (Informatique Graphique) and to the CA of the French chapter of Eurographics. She has been Vice President of Eurographics since January 2013.  As the chair of the Outreach Committee of ACM-WE, Bev Bachmayer, had the opportunity to catch up with Marie-Paule for a short discussion last month.

1. Why is the conference important to you?

I have been trying to encourage young women to do Computer Science – and especially Computer Graphics which is my area of research – for many years now. And I really believe that networking and meeting with women more advanced in their career can play a major role in the motivation of young female students. So the womENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing is exactly among the kind of actions I’m finding the most useful.

More specifically, we were 50% of girls during my graduate studies in Computer Science in France at the end of the eighties. But I realized when I became assistant professor and then full prof that fewer and fewer of my students were girls (the proportion of girls went down to about 10% of the students). It is like if “Computers are for boys” was becoming a new stereotype in our digital societies. Moreover, careers in sciences were not necessarily easy for women. I therefore joined the “Femmes et Science” (Women and sciences) French association since its creation.

When I was in Sabbatical in New Zealand in 2007, I was invited to give a talk about ‘Women in Computer Science’ in their gender seminar, and this gave me the opportunity to read a lot of very interesting studies about the birth of this stereotype. In parallel, I had tried over the years to keep a good proportion of girls among my PhD student -and they succeeded very well, so in recognition for these two types of actions, I received the ‘Irene Jolliet Curie’ award (a French national award) in 2007 in the ‘mentoring’ category, for my action for supporting women in computing.

More recently, during the summer 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a Computer Science workshop only for women “Women in Shape”, at UCLA.

There I was given the opportunity to define a research project and work during one week with a team of young women, from graduate students to assistant professors, full time on this projects. 4 teams of women were working in parallel and staying together in a “sorority house”. This was a wonderful experience! It helped a lot for networking, and also organized round tables about careers, raising children at the same time, etc. Even if “womENcourage” is a more classical conference with talks, I’m expecting to find there the same kind of networking opportunity, but at a wider scale.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?
– I really enjoy working with others: in France we work in teams, I am the head of a team of about 35 people, with 6 faculty – 2 or which are women, PhD students, master students, post-docs visitor and engineers.

– I love sharing ideas, both through research and through teaching : this year I was lucky enough to be elected as the yearly “Computing and digital sciences” chair at College de France, where I have the opportunity to give lecture about my research that are open to the general public as well:

– I really like meeting old friends from many different countries at international conferences: I attended my first ACM SIGGRAPH conference in 1987, when I was a graduate student. Now most of the friends I met at this period and after are professors on different parts of the worlds, we are always trying to set up collaborations.

– And above all, I love my research domain all about creation of shapes and motions in 3D!

3. What would you want the participants to learn from your keynote speech or the conference in general?

My key-note is going to be a scientific talk, but I am lucky enough with my research topic: it is very visual and can be easily explained to people who are not working in the area of Computer Graphics. The goal of my research is to turn digital media into a tool enabling anybody (no matter if they are scientists, engineers, or the general public) to express and progressively refine the 3D shapes and motions they have in mind, as easily and much more efficiently as if they were using a pen. Contrary to what you may think, this is not a matter of interface: the key of the approach is to develop a new generation of “user-centered graphical models”, that can be created using simple gestures and actions (sketching, sculpting, stretching, and copy-pasting) and react the way a human user expects under these gestures, thanks to embedded knowledge. I’m going to illustrate this approach through various examples, from creating virtual garments from a sketch, animating them in real time and transferring them to characters with a different morphology – thanks to embedded knowledge on developable surfaces; sketching and sculpting arbitrary solid shapes to be printed; modeling in minute’s plausible biological objects such as trees, needed to populate virtual worlds.

To learn from the conference: I expect that young female students will learn that careers in Computer Sciences are definitively for them, that we need diversity in this domain as in all others domains, and that they can count on a network of women who are more advanced in their career to help them.