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Women, computing and women@CL. Mateja Jamnik Computer Laboratory University of Cambridge Co-director of the women@CL 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 women@CL

Mateja Jamnik

Computer Laboratory

University of Cambridge

Co-director of the women@CLproject

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


  • 2003 women@CL launched at Cambridge Uni. Computer Laboratory with support from Microsoft Research and Intel

  • 2004 national women@CL network,

    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


  • women@CL 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
women@CL – 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

  • women@CL lunches: provide women role models

Women@cl cambridge lunches
women@CL 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
women@CL - 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
women@CL 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
women@CL 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
women@CL UK – Childcare Scheme

  • Many academics are prevented from attending conferences due to extra costs for childcare.

  • women@CL 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 women@CL

  • 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 women@CL.

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%