women@CL

UK Wide

We are grateful to the funding bodies, sponsors and supporters who made women@CL, on a national level, possible: EPSRC through a network grant, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Intel Cambridge Research, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Newnham College Cambridge, Cambridge-MIT Institute, Oxford Internet Institute, British Computer Society, IBM. The long-term underpinning support of the University of Cambridge’s world leading Computer Laboratory has been key in developing the activities of the network.

At the national level we have supported women in computing research, with a focus on interdisciplinary research, leadership and enterprise, through a programme of career development activities. This has included regional and national meetings, some with technical programmes; others are more career development orientated workshops:

  • 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

Following evaluation of the work of the EPSRC funded women@CL network, the following programme has been taken forward with the support of the British Computer Society and other sponsors. women@CL no longer runs at a national level however we are still active at a local level, please view our Calendar for more information about our current events and activities.

Career Workshops

The aim of our career workshops was to be relevant 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. These workshops were best organized alongside a major academic conference.
The talks were given 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
  • applying for jobs, grants and fellowships
  • work-life balance
  • mentoring and email lists support

It was important to provide at these workshops ample discussion periods and informal opportunities for networking.

Hoppers Workshops

These workshops are named after Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and a US Navy officer, one of the first programmers of the Mark I Calculator, and a developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language (she also coined the term “debugging” after ridding a computer of a moth bug). Hoppers workshops take form of regional meetings for women in computing research from Masters level up. They consist of technical talks, career planning sessions and informal networking opportunities (and lunch). Career planning sessions address questions like:

  • What makes a good research leader?
  • Identify some challenges for computing research in 2015?
  • What would help you to become a research leader?

Lessons learnt

A network like women@CL is a major undertaking. It is helpful that all the major bodies in the UK (and EU) are aware of the importance of the issue of women in ICT, and are thus actively getting involved. Here are some important lessons that we learnt through running this project:

What made this initiative a success?

  • Support from the top (e.g., Head of department) from Cambridge University  and sponsors;
  • Dedicated senior staff time and administrative 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.