Ursula Martin, University of Cambridge
Mateja Jamnik, University of Cambridge
The purpose of the network is to put in place a positive action program for women in computing research, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary research, leadership and enterprise. We seek support to initiate a programme of career development activities including regional and national workshops, mentoring, networking and summer schools, with a long term goal of:
· stimulating new research by bringing diverse viewpoints and expertise to bear, and ensuring that women are well placed to play an early leadership role in new and emerging research areas, especially interdisciplinary ones,
· increasing the recruitment and retention of women in computing research careers, by offering support to women researchers in computing and related disciplines;
· increasing women’s understanding of, and participation in, entrepreneurial ventures and commercialization;
· increasing public engagement in, and changing public perceptions of, computer science, by providing spokespersons who will contribute to changing the image of computer science.
The programme builds on successful regional and local activities, for example the annual Scottish Hoppers meeting for women in computing, and women’s leadership and entrepreneurship activities at the University of Cambridge
The proposal is led by the University of Cambridge, where Professor Ursula Martin holds a part-time position to lead activities for women in computer science, the women@CL project, and Dr Mateja Jamnik holds a lectureship and an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship. The steering committee consists of 7 female senior academics in 7 UK Universities, together with 5 senior women in other bodies: they will be supported by around 20 further senior women network members. Activities will be open to targeted groups of women in universities and industry, in computing research and related areas (mathematics, electronic engineering, biosciences etc.), to potential researchers at undergraduate or masters level, and to others, female or male, as appropriate.
The network will be supported in cash and kind by:
· British Computer Society (BCS) who will support events throughout the lifetime of the project, and will provide a framework through a new Forum for women, and web, mailing list and other infrastructure support, for sustainability after the end of the project. BCS women is a complementary body to our own providing support for women in industry.
· University of Cambridge Equal Opportunities Office, who have a long running program of positive action for women in science, including Springboard and women’s leadership programmes, and the recent appointment of staff to encourage applications from women
· Cambridge Enterprise, part of the University of Cambridge providing training and other support for technology transfer and for entrepreneurs at all stages.
This network is particularly concerned with interdisciplinary research as a vehicle for recruitment, retention and early leadership development of women in computing research, and we have initially identified three broad areas of focus, to be refined as our activities develop:
· Computing and the mathematical and natural sciences Computer science has transformed these disciplines through the use of computation to model and predict the physical world, and has in turn stimulated new work in the underlying sciences – for example in algorithms, statistical techniques or modes of reasoning. New paradigms like nanotechnology, quantum or optical computing require not just tackling fundamental problems in physics, chemistry or materials science to obtain the computational primitives, but also developing new computer science to compose them into computational engines
· Computing and medicine; New information technologies have the potential to dramatically improve health care: for example to help ensure that health-related information and services are available anytime and anywhere, permit health care practitioners to access patient information wherever it may be located, and help researchers better understand the human body, share information, and ultimately develop more beneficial treatments. Computer science is fundamental for bioinformatics research, not only in providing essential tools but also, by viewing biological processes as computational phenomena, in providing new models for understanding, explanation and prediction.
· Computing, interaction and creativity Ubiquitous computing – computational devices embedded in the very fabric of everything around us–brings with it enormous opportunities to transform every aspect of how people interact with eth world and each other. This covers areas such as: understanding the complex interactions of information technologies with people and society; the nature and dynamics of IT impacts on organization, business, education, communications, entertainment, and in the home; and development of innovative models for IT education and IT applications for learning. It complements computing research with work in psychology, linguistics, economics, cognitive and social sciences, arts, film and music, and contributions from artists and designers
Women in computing research Despite a few striking exceptions, the number of women in academic or entrepreneurial leadership roles in technology is small, women are under-represented at all stages in UK computing research, and the situation gets worse throughout the research pipeline, with the proportion of women declining at each career milestone: undergraduate to postgraduate, postgraduate to research assistant (RA) and RA into academic and industrial careers. For example, in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise 1460 academic staff were submitted as research active under Unit of Assessment 25, Computer Science: of these 190, or 13%, were female. This is despite many years of well-intentioned activities – for example “gender blind” appointment criteria.
However it is not just a matter of small numbers coming through the pipeline – research as presented in, for example, the recent Office of Science and Technology (OST) Greenfield Report, has shown that the greatest obstacles to the progression of women already launched in the high-tech field are lack of the support mechanisms such as mentoring, role models, and access to informal networks that give the next hand up the ladder. Recent data presented in the OST Athena Asset Survey of male and female university scientists showed that women, even at senior levels, felt disadvantaged in matters such as social inclusion and access to career development – yet 33% of women, as opposed to 22% of men, aspired to leadership positions.4 This is confirmed by more detailed US analysis of the position of women in the computer science pipeline carried out by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
While these issues arise across engineering and the physical sciences, they are particularly important in computing, both because of the low numbers of women compared with other sciences, and because of the role that computing researchers in universities and industry play in shaping new technologies with enormous commercial and societal implications. Better decisions will be taken if the nation does not lose the skills and talents of half the workforce in taking leadership roles to drive forward the knowledge economy. In particular it is important that women are not excluded from early stage leadership roles in technology, which is vital in driving agendas for research and commercial development.
Interdisciplinarity and entrepreneurship are areas of great opportunity for computer science, and ones where confidence and access to informal networks are particularly important in getting early competitive advantage. Women are underrepresented in entrepreneurial activity, and there are marked difference in attitudes to entrepreneurship between men and women. By contrast, women have often found interdisciplinary work attractive, and the proportion of women transferring to computing via masters/conversion courses from undergraduate degrees in other subjects, like maths or biosciences, has been relatively high (~25%):1 these women are ideal candidates for interdisciplinary research careers if mentored in the opportunities it offers.
The aim of this network is to provide a positive action program for women in computing research, with a particular focus on interdisciplinarity and entrepreneurship. The goal of positive action programs is to provide career development for under-represented groups, particularly through activities such as role-models, mentoring and access to informal networks. Note that while in the UK positive discrimination (for example appointing someone to a job just because they are female) is illegal, positive action is allowed for in legislation and encouraged by government through various programs of OST and HEFCE, and taken forward by many Universities as part of their strategies for equal opportunities and access.
Other disciplines such as the London Mathematical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and Institute of Physics already support such activities. The NSF runs ambitious programs through its Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) workforce initiative led by Caroline Wardle, who has kindly agreed to act as an advisor for our project. Women in computing activities in the UK are coordinated by a DTI Forum, chaired by Rebecca George of IBM: these include BCS-women (women in industry), Equalitec (a web initiative), and Women in Computing (a focus on sociological issues). These provide valuable complementary activities, but none organises activities for women in computing research.
The core of the project will be regular events which, will, we hope have acquired momentum and sustainability by the end of the project.
· Interdisciplinary think-tanks: These meetings, in the areas described above, will form the core of our activities. They will bring together women in computing research and women leaders in the complementary areas, with goals of stimulating new research in these areas, giving early leadership roles to women researchers, and providing motivation and role models for, younger women, especially those with interdisciplinary qualifications.
· Regional meetings: There will be up to four annual one day regional (Scotland, North, Midlands, London & SE) workshops for women in computing research (defined broadly), which bring together women at all stages of their technical careers from final year undergraduate up senior academic or industrial positions. The aim is to give the opportunity to hear technical and career planning talks from women in academia and industry, in computer science and related interdisciplinary fields. This will provide opportunities for networking, informal mentoring and interaction with role models, and stimulate discussion of interdisciplinary or entrepreneurial opportunities. The model is the annual Scottish Hoppers meeting, run since 1999 with ad hoc support from IEE, SHEFC and NESC.
· Postgraduate students: Intel Research Cambridge (Prof Derek Macauley) want to sponsor an annual event at the EPSRC PREP postgraduate conference for women students, concentrating on industry internships and the potential of interdisciplinary research.
We have a number of plans for possible one-off pilot events, to be run in collaboration with various third parties, and subject to careful evaluation to determine routes for sustainability. If a pilot event is successful, we hope this can be continued with other means of support.
· Undergraduate students: Two day summer school for women undergraduates concentrating on the excitement and challenges of interdisciplinary research.
· Postdocs and Early-career women: Leadership and career planning workshop for early career women, with an emphasis on the nature of research leadership, choosing an independent research area and building a team, and juggling work-life balance. This will be based on a program already run by the University of Cambridge.
· Entrepreneurs workshop: This will be for women in computing research (defined broadly), based on programs currently provided by Cambridge Enterprise, a division of the University of Cambridge which provides entrepreneurial training and advice.
Mentoring is recognised as a key activity for recruitment and retention of women in SET careers, and the national scale of our activities means we can draw on a wider pool of mentors, for both informal and formal support. To organise the latter, and to save on the overhead of setting up our own scheme, we intend to negotiate with two schemes:
· MentorSet is a National “face to face” Mentoring Scheme for Women in SET, run by AWISE the Womens Engineering Society.
· EWM, European Women in Mathematics, run an e-mentoring scheme, based at Oxford Brookes University, http://ewm.brookes.ac.uk and are extending this to computer science
As our project takes shape we will identify stories and themes suitable for wider dissemination, perhaps through media training or other public understanding efforts, and in collaboratio with other bodies concerned with In particular we expect to:
· Monitor participation of women in professional and policy activities, and ensure, for example, that women apply for fellowship status in BCS/IEE.
· Maintain a roster of women speakers, and publicise this to departments.
· Maintain web pages including information about careers and role models, data on women in computing research careers and so on.
· Report progress and achievements of women more formally through EPSRC, BCS, IEE and other mechanisms.
· In addition, we will ensure that the wider academic and scientific community is kept apprised of our activities and their effectiveness in developing the careers of women in computing research through partnership with the OST Athena project and the proposed new Working Science Centre.
The beneficiaries are: the women concerned who we hope will have enhanced career opportunities through this program; their current and future employers who will have the benefit of their talents; the wider academic and industrial computing research community through their enhanced scientific and leadership contribution; and the more general scientific and academic community through the example that this project gives in recruitment and retention.
Key to making this work, so that the activities do not become an additional burden on those they are meant to serve, is effective administrative support for maintaining web pages, databases and mailing lists, organising events, and publicity and dissemination as described below. To this end we have costed on the basis of a part time administrator who will be based in Cambridge.
We are aware that many of our potential participants have family responsibilities and will try to be family friendly in the organisation of our activities: for example, avoiding overnight stays where possible. In particular we will budget specifically for a flexible childcare fund, so that participants at meetings can claim for childcare arrangements.
Network grants are intended to pump-prime new activity. Sustainability in our context means two things – of the novel interdisciplinary research activities stimulated by our activities, and of the positive action program itself. For the former we will rely on the usual mechanisms that sustain research, including application for competitive funds,
For the latter, our aim is to pilot a number of activities, and create robust and credible models for activities to recruit and retain women which can then be fairly readily replicated thereafter, with support from individual enthusiasts committed to carrying forward the activity, Universities through their own positive action programs, professional communities (such as BCS or ACM SIGs) and professional organisations such as BCS and IEE. BCS, the British Computer Society, is the major UK professional organisation for computing science, with 70,000 members in industry and academia. Its current President, Professor Wendy Hall, has made issues to do with women a top priority of her presidency. BCS will provide administrative and logistical support through web hosting, email and distribution lists, and in addition have pledged support for various events during the lifetime of the project, including a workshop on to be held at the annual conference of professors of computing at Newcastle in March 2004.
BCS Forums provide high level strategic leadership for themes of significant professional or research interest: from 2005 BCS plan a Forum for women in computer science, which will hold a wide brief for positive action, recruitment and retention for women in all aspects of the profession, working with the DTI Forum described above. For women in computing research our network grant will initiate the program and enable it to achieve rapid impact: the BCS Forum will be responsible for its long-term development beyond the end of the EPSRC funding.
Part time administrator, 2 days a week + overhead 22319
Student interns (web pages etc) 3x1000 3000
Preparation of posters, print material etc 3000
3 x Steering committee 3000
12 x Regional one day meetings: lunch + student travel subsidy 9000
3 x think tanks 7500
3 x pilot activities 7500
Childcare fund 4681
Ursula Martin is Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London, and a member of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, and is also a Fellow of Newnham College. She was Professor of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews 1992-2002, and in 1999 spent a year at SRI International in California, funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Foresight Fellowship. She served on the 2001 RAE panel in Computer Science, and is on the EPSRC strategic advisory team for mathematics. She chairs ACM-W, the Committee on Women of the US-based ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery - the world’s largest professional association for computing with 80,000 members. As Director of women@CL in the Department of Computer Science in Cambridge her long-term goal is to produce a simple grass-roots model that is effective, replicable and sustainable across science and engineering departments in a complex institution. Her current research, a collaboration with Qinetiq and Intel Research Cambridge, concerns understanding how computational logic can be applied to engineering: for example avionics or network monitoring.
Mateja Jamnik has been a University Lecturer at the Computer Laboratory since January 2003, and is currently on leave to hold the EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship “Automating Informal Human Mathematical Reasoning”. Mateja Jamnik obtained her doctorate at the Department of Artificial Intelligence in the University of Edinburgh. Her doctoral thesis, “Automating Diagrammatic Proofs of Arithmetic Arguments” broke new ground in automated reasoning, and as a result, she was invited by CSLI Press, Stanford, to write a book about her work -- “Mathematical Reasoning with Diagrams: From Intuition to Automation” (2001). Dr Jamnik’s main research is on the exploration of informal human cognitive processes in mathematics. She aims to investigate and mechanise some of human mathematical reasoning, in particular the use of diagrams in proofs of mathematical theorems, the exploitation of learning from examples in order to devise general solutions to problems in mathematics, and in the use of proof planning to guide automatic theorem proving and to explore the structure of mathematical proofs. In order to advance automated reasoning systems, it is important to integrate some of the informal human reasoning techniques with successful formal techniques, such as different types of logic. This will not only make the reasoning systems more powerful, but such systems can then serve as tools to study and explore the nature of human reasoning.
· Professor Muffy Calder, University of Glasgow
· Professor Carole Goble, University of Manchester
· Professor Wendy Hall, University of Southampton, President BCS
· Dr Felicity Hunt, Equal Opportunities Office University of Cambridge
· Dr Mateja Jamnik, University of Cambridge
· Professor Marta Kwiatkowska, University of Birmingham
· Professor Gillian Lovegrove, University of Northumbria, Past Chair CPH
· Professor Ursula Martin, QMUL/University of Cambridge
· Dr Laura Meagher, Technology Development Group, Cupar
· Rosa Michaelson, Coordinator for women in science, SHEFC
· Dr Janet Stack, DTI Equalitec
· Dr Caroline Wardle, NSF CISE programme for workforce diversity
· Professor Maggie Boden, University of Sussex
· Professor Hilary Buxton , University of Sussex
· Professor Susan Craw, Robert Gordon University
· Professor Maria Fox, University of Strathclyde
· Professor Rachel Harrison, University of Reading
· Professor Elizabeth Hull, University of Ulster
· Professor Antonia J Jones, University of Cardiff
· Professor Hilary Kahn, University of Manchester
· Professor Heather Liddell, QMUL
· Professor Johanna Moore, University of Edinburgh
· Professor Alexandra Poulovassilis, Birkbeck University of London
· Professor Anne De Roeck, Open University
· Professor Angela Sasse, UCL
· Professor Karen Sparck-Jones, University of Cambridge
· Professor Susan Stepney, University of York
· Professor Marilyn Walker University of Sheffield
· Professor Bonnie Webber, University of Edinburgh
 HESA and other data available at http://www.set4women.gov.uk.
 Greenfield report, OST, 2003.
 What’s holding women back, Wellington et al, Harvard Business Review, June 2003.
 The incredible shrinking pipeline, T Camp and D Gurer, see http://www.acm.org/women.
 Alternative entrepreneurial images, W A Lucas, MIT Sloan, survey, 2003.