Woman Hackers Talk & Cocktail
We got together on March 31 for a one-of-a-kind meetup intended to gather computer scientists, engineers, students and academicians to discuss gender equality in the field of computer science.
We had a fireside chat with Binnur Görer Ph.D Candidate (Anita Borg Scholar ‘15) moderated by Gönül Aycı. The highlights of the discussion were:
- Binnur’s personal experience with Women Techmakers Scholars Program - formerly called Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Program
- Problems woman engineers face while in their undergrad, master and Ph.D level education
- Scholarship programs in machine learning, robotics and other areas of computer science and engineering
- Support mechanisms
'ROBOTICS ARE NOW A SPECIES'
Binnur’s passion for Artificial Intelligence comes from her satisfaction out of quick results. She explains that computer science is a huge flock of opportunities waiting to be explored, but only if you love what you do.
Turkey is comparatively good at women computer scientist ratio, but this is mostly because of people’s attention to the possible high incomes from this profession. We are in the age of technology, and it is quite easy to achieve information, which means you can make better, more conscious choices when it comes to education and career. You can explore and find your passion, Binnur argues.
'I'M GLAD I ENJOY WHAT I DO'
It is important to explore what you’ll love to do, and if you choose computer science, to decide which field of it you’ll enjoy the most. Because no matter which field you choose, seeing your profession as a burden is not the way to go.
WOMEN IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
Even though there are considerable changes in how we perceive women in society, it wouldn’t be absurd to say that they are still underestimated in many fields, including computer science. It is even suggested that women also find themselves less capable than men under specific conditions. Similarly, women who are in the process of being a computer scientist, lack mentorship and support. Binnur, after pointing out this problem, mentioned her idea of a Youtube channel for online mentorship in computer science in Turkish, since there are many young women in Turkey who do not have access to educational programs outside of the internet.
Female/male ratio of employment in computer science is approximately 1/9. However, today there are many initiatives, scholarships and other types of programs which aim to encourage women, which is a very promising opportunity for aspiring women to follow their path. Young women need to be informed and motivated about such initiatives.
It is also important to sustain the communication between successful women in technology and young women. These role models are one of the biggest inspirations for women and are actual proofs that women are no less capable than men. On another note, there are limited resources for Turkish women. They should unite their powers and support each other to create a generation of successful women in computer science so that gender discrimination will no longer be a problem.
WOMEN TECHMAKERS SCHOLARS PROGRAM
Women Techmakers Scholars Program is an academic scholarship, awarded based on academic performance, leadership, and impact on the community of women in tech. As a former scholar of this program, Binnur gave information on the application and scholarship processes, as well as sharing her own experience and giving tips.
- It is very important to be original in your application and not to be a reprint.
- Integrating your personal experience is much valued.
- Applications are scrutinized separately each year, which means even though you weren’t chosen the first time you applied, keep trying and improve your application.
Scholars not only benefit from the scholarship, but they also continue to improve gender equality in computer science. That is achieved by working groups which regularly meet online, each group focusing on a problem and coming up with applicable solutions for it. This is why the program is also an opportunity to enlarge your network and meet fellow scientists and engineers.
GRACE HOPPER CELEBRATION
Grace Hopper Celebration is a conference held once a year, aimed at bringing women scientists together to encourage women in computer science. It has a vast scope including students, academicians, researchers and industry professionals. This two-day event gives its participants the chance to get to know the community, provides career opportunities and empowers women.
When asked what she acquired from Anita Borg Scholarship and Grace Hopper Conference, Binnur states that her experiences expanded her vision, which is why she wants to share it with others in universities and other communities, such as in Woman Hackers Talk & Cocktail. She says it is important to reach people with the same problems as you and make connections with more.
DISCUSSION & COCKTAIL
After the fireside chat, we had a cocktail and networking with guests, inzva members and friends, and welcomed professors from computer science departments in several universities. We had a further discussion on how inzva can act as an institution to better include women in computer science and other related areas.
Putting together the outcomes of the event and our drive for improving computer science society, we’ve come up with a mentorship programme which will serve as a tool for bringing together young women and role models such as Binnur and Gönül. The plan is to regularly arrange meetings with the mentors and the mentees and eventually create a community of people working to include more women in computer science.