ACM-W India Workshop on Women in Computer Science and Research
14 February 2020, IIT Gandhinagar
Participants of the ACM-W workshop 2020 with Dr. Cherri Pancake (President, ACM)
An ACM-W workshop on the theme “Women in Computer Science and Research” was organized on 14 February 2020 during the ACM Annual Event 2020 by the CSE Discipline at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar. Its aim was to raise awareness about the opportunities available for women in the growing field of computer science through a diverse range of discussions and talks by women executives from academia and industry.
The event kick-started with a welcome address by Dr. Heena Timani (Chair, ACM-W India), in which she highlighted the critical functions of ACM-W and several programs and activities of this Council, such as the India chapters, Hackathon, the Summer and Winter Schools for girls, Grad Cohort, and scholarships, etc.
(L to R) Dr. Cherri M Pancake (Professor Emeritus-Oregon State University, Director-NASCE, President-ACM) and Dr. Heena Timani (Chair, ACM-W India)
The first keynote was delivered by Dr. Cherri M Pancake (President, ACM). She highlighted how ACM-W encourages young girls to revolutionize the field of CSE research. Sharing her life story, she stressed on the fact that ACM-W is all about being proactive change agents, progressive and patient to be able to face challenges head-on, and help fellow women explore the latest developments in computing.
(L to R) Dr. Arati M. Dixit (Senior Scientist, ARA; Research Associate Professor, NC State University, Raleigh, USA) and Dr. Lipika Dey (Principal Scientist, TCS Innovation Lab)
Next up was an engaging session by Dr. Arati M. Dixit (Senior Scientist, ARA; Research Associate Professor, NC State University, Raleigh, USA), in which she shed light on the growing ACM-W leadership team. Already established in several regional groups viz., ACM-W North America, ACM-W Europe, and ACM-W South-Pacific Regions, the community is in the process of expanding to Africa as well. Dr. Dixit proceeded to make the audience aware of the various scholarships available for enthusiastic and brilliant women in the field. She also discussed the future possibilities of efficient connections among different student chapters in a particular region.
Dr. Lipika Dey (Principal Scientist, TCS Innovation Lab) on Data Analytics, talked about the rapidly-changing buzz words in Computing and also discussed the main challenges of this domain, viz., consistency, explainability, security, reproducibility, and integrity. The session concluded with the message that proper utilization of data analytics is essential to properly utilize data and convert it to knowledge. Dr. Dey also advised the audience to always strive to do their best, and fearlessly lead from the frontline.
(L to R) Dr. Chitra Babu (Professor and HOD, SSN College of Engineering), Dr. Meenakshi D'Souza (Associate Professor, IIIT Bangalore), Dr. Arati M. Dixit and Dr. Nutan Limaye (Associate Professor, IIT Bombay)
One of the most thought-provoking sessions of this workshop was a panel discussion focussing on the challenges women face in the computing domain. The panel comprised Dr. Meenakshi D'Souza (Associate Professor, IIIT Bangalore), Dr. Chitra Babu (Professor and HOD, SSN College of Engineering), Dr. Arati M. Dixit , and Dr. Nutan Limaye (Associate Professor, IIT Bombay). The panel also highlighted the issue of gender ratio in the educational institutes of the country, and advised the female participants to carve a niche for themselves.
Dr. Kalika Bali (Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Lab, India) delivered an enlightening talk on computing technologies that could help in promoting the low resource languages, while explaining the importance of data techniques, and applications in extending these languages and, hence, enabling efficient networking among communities.
Dr. Joycee Mekie (Assistant Professor, IIT Gandhinagar) provided insights into the world of approximations in computing, answering questions such as what should and shouldn't undergo approximation in an application, and how so, what sort of algorithms should go into it? How to tune it (accuracy) and where to apply it?
(L to R) Dr. Kalika Bali (Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Lab, India) and Dr. Joycee Mekie (Assistant Professor, IIT Gandhinagar)
The event concluded with a valedictory function and a networking session.
With an attendance of more than 100 participants—students, researchers, and leading experts—this workshop was a huge success. It proved an excellent platform for women in computer science and allied areas to build discussion forums with some of the most eminent minds in the field of computing education and research. Workshop was successfully completed under the encouraging support of Dr. Neeldhara Misra (Assistant Professor IITGN), Dr. Rutvi Shah (Assistant Professor CPICA) and Ms. Apeksha Srivastava (Senior Project Associate, IITGN).