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Women, computing and [email protected] Mateja Jamnik Computer Laboratory University of Cambridge Co-director of the [email protected] project Thanks to EPSRC, Univ. of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Microsoft Research, Intel Cambridge Research, CMI, OII, Newnham College Cambridge. What are the facts?.

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women computing and women@cl

Women, computing and [email protected]

Mateja Jamnik

Computer Laboratory

University of Cambridge

Co-director of the [email protected]

Thanks to EPSRC, Univ. of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Microsoft Research, Intel Cambridge Research, CMI, OII, Newnham College Cambridge

what are the facts
What are the facts?
  • 5% of young women are considering an IT career
  • 22% of the UK’s 1 million IT workforce are women
  • Half of UK and Oxbridge undergraduates are women
  • 1 in 3 academic women but 1 in 5 academic men aspire to leadership positions
facts computer science
Facts – Computer Science
  • Source: HESA data 2001-2002
  • Cambridge last 3 years: 14%, up from 10% 10 years ago (10% for home u/gs, 50% for overseas)
facts maths
Facts – Maths
  • Source: HESA data 2003-2004
  • National: 38.71% female
why so bad in uk
Poor image of computing:

Schools: accessible and gender neutral, but often boring and equated with office skills

Work: negative images such as nerdy, aggressive, dull

Failure to communicate:

What computer science is and why it is important

Computing can be exciting, rewarding, challenging; can lead to social careers; accommodates career breaks, flexible working

The variety of clearly differentiated computing careers

Why so bad in UK?
  • Failure to retain:
    • students and staff due to unconscious bias, lack of positive and supportive culture
does it matter
Does it matter?
  • To individuals
    • Loss of opportunity
  • To employers
    • Loss of talent
    • Despite tech slump/outsourcing, increase in demand for staff
  • To Universities
    • Major US corporation 2005: If we recruit to CS posts only from CS graduates we can’t meet our diversity targets
    • Access, Equal Opportunities, RAE....
  • UK legal position
    • Positive discrimination is illegal
    • Positive action is legal and encouraged
    • Increasing provision for flexible working, parental leave etc
    • Codes of practice, union agreements ...
what can be done good practice
What can be done? Good practice!
  • Carnegie Mellon Project: women up from 10% to 47% over 5 years
    • Long-term outreach to schools and teachers on APT
    • New entry criteria seek “Technology leaders of the future”
    • Remove inadvertent barriers – eg overvaluing systems skills
    • Parallel tracks through 1st year to aid confidence building
  • UC Berkeley project
    • Change climate through supportive atmosphere for women
    • Fostering community, alumni relations and PhD retention
    • Women students best ambassadors in recruitment
  • LinuxChix and Debian Women
    • For women in open source community - combat aggressive stance

All people will be comfortable and feel able to ask questions or comment at any time. People will feel that the channel is a sociable and friendly place.

what else can be done
What else can be done?
  • DTI study: women leave IT at 2 stages, after children and mid-career, hence
    • advocate flexible working, change in culture
    • what’s good for women is good for everybody
  • SIGIS EU project: recommends for UK
    • mentoring, support, opportunities for networking
    • women be supported and valued, but no special treatment
    • positive action programmes can cause hostility
    • women often like applications and interdisciplinary work
    • changing image to attract different kind of people
    • one size does not fit all
[email protected]

funded by EPSRC: co-directors

Prof. Ursula Martin and

Dr Mateja Jamnik

  • www.cl.cam.ac.uk/women
  • Cambridge ideal place with long history: 1949 Beatrice Worsley first woman PhD for computational work
[email protected]
  • [email protected] provides local, national and international activities for women engaged in computing research and academic leadership
  • Goal: support women and increase recruitment and retention, sustainable across a complex institution
  • Funding bodies, sponsors and supporters: with thanks to

EPSRC, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Intel Cambridge Research, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Newnham College Cambridge, Cambridge-MIT Institute, Oxford Internet Institute, British Computer Society

  • Prominent support of Univ. of Cambridge’s world leading department vital to send signal of importance
women@cl cambridge
[email protected] – Cambridge
  • Consultation with women staff and students:
    • isolated, valued support but not to be seen as “different”
  • Review undergraduate recruitment:
    • course already stresses interdisciplinarity, applications and entrepreneurship, but is very poorly presented and marketed, with confusion over entry requirements
  • Formal connection with existing bodies with similar goals:
    • Equality and Diversity Unit: recruitment officers, Springboard
    • Raised awareness of legislation and good practice
  • Set up web pages, FAQs, mailing lists, data collection
  • [email protected] lunches: provide women role models
women@cl cambridge lunches
[email protected] Cambridge - Lunches
  • Provide early-career women role models in academic research, industry or start-ups:
    • Speakers from Univ. of Cambridge, Intel, MSR, Google, IBM, biotech entrepreneurs, Goldman Sachs, Oman, Canada, USA,…
  • Women in Gaming event:
    • explore issues surrounding women in games industry, as both producers and consumers of games and game-related media
    • play videogames on variety of consoles
  • Careers workshops:
    • applying for jobs in academia and industry
  • Free lunch, chocolate cake, open to all, high attendance, 50-50 women-men
women@cl uk
[email protected] - UK
  • Career development workshops at major conferences:
    • IJCAI 2005, W3C 2006, HCI 2006
  • Regional Hoppers meetings for women in computing:
    • London, Manchester, Scotland
  • Senior Women’s Leadership Summit in 2005 and 2007:
    • Newnham College Cambridge
  • Childcare Initiative
  • Evaluation, media training, ensuring visibility of women
  • Visions of the future initiative with BCS, OII
women@cl uk career workshops
[email protected] UK - Career Workshops
  • Mission Statement:To be of relevance to women in computing research, providing a forum for the interchange of ideas for successful academic careers, to address the particular needs of professional women and to provide an opportunity for peer networking.
  • Talks by women at various stages in their career about:
  • their work and how they got there
  • the opportunities encountered
  • how to choose an independent research area and build a team
  • how to apply for a PhD
  • how to apply for an industrial job
  • how to apply for grants
  • how to apply for fellowships
  • work-life balance
  • funding opportunities
  • mentoring and email lists support
  • Discussion periods
  • Networking opportunities
women@cl uk hoppers workshops
[email protected] UK – Hoppers Workshops
  • Regional meetings for women in computing research from Masters level up.
  • Technical talks
  • Career planning:
    • What makes a good research leader?
      • It can be hard, but worth it to make a difference
    • Identify some challenges for computing research in 2015?
      • Sustainability, ageing population, maintaining humanity
    • What would help you to become a research leader?
      • Mentoring, support, opportunities like this.
  • Networking (and lunch).
women@cl uk childcare scheme
[email protected] UK – Childcare Scheme
  • Many academics are prevented from attending conferences due to extra costs for childcare.
  • [email protected] supplementary grant of £150 towards extra childcare costs while at CS related conference.
  • Open to everyone, staff or student, female or male at UK University doing computer science research.
lessons learnt
Lessons Learnt
  • What is making this initiative a success?
    • Support from the top in Cambridge Univ. and sponsors
    • Dedicated senior staff time and admin support
    • Enthusiastic staff and student team
  • What’s good for women is good for everyone
  • What do we need next?
    • Major campaign to change the image of computer science
    • Improve presentation and understanding in schools
    • Grand challenges exercise to create visions of future research
    • Find exciting worthwhile ways to develop leadership skills
    • BCS to take the lead and coordinate all this
other initiatives awards
Other Initiatives: Awards
  • Athena award for IT in support of women in science
  • BCS awards for companies working for women in IT
  • Astar awards: best girl in ICT A level and GCSE
  • BCS Roger Needham award
  • BCS CPHC Distinguished Dissertation award
  • BCS Young IT practitioner award
other initiatives cc4g
Other Initiatives: CC4G
  • Around 100 clubs for 10-14 year old girls, rolling out nationally, linked to national curriculum

CC4G is all about making technology fun.

We leave all the boring stuff to the boys.


  • Link CC4G schools near Cambridge with [email protected]
  • EPSRC PPA Sodarace for schools, pilot with CC4G


other initiatives bcs
Other Initiatives: BCS
  • Establish Forum:
    • to coordinate women/diversity initiatives
    • to think about image of the profession
    • teaching of computing in schools
  • New future initiative in collaboration with BCS and OII, to ensure the sustainability and continuity of [email protected]
thank you
Thank you!


my experience
My Experience
  • UWC Italy; Math and Computer Studies, Canada; Master Cambridge; PhD in Artificial Intelligence Edinburgh
  • EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, Cambridge Uni
  • Lectureship (Associate Prof), Cambridge Uni
  • Research: formalizing on machines “informal” human problem solving techniques (eg, using diagrams)
  • Work/Life: married, 2 children, working part-time 50%