Why “Celebrate Women in Computing”?

The ACM-W society is one of the biggest advocates of women in computing. They dedicate several events and awards to celebrate prominent women in computer science and related fields. In September this year, the ACM-W Europe chapter held the second womEncourage event in Uppsala University, Sweden. WomEncourage creates an environment for women with similar scientific backgrounds to interact, network, and explore career opportunities. In this event, two hundred people are participating from twenty-eight countries including the Middle East, India, China and the U.S.A.

But why is there a need for events dedicated to women in computer science?

Gender stereotypes threaten women in male-dominated work environments with discrimination from three sources: men, other women, and self discrimination. Commonly, the ratio of women to men decreases rapidly in more advanced academic or professional positions. In her keynote, Prof. Åsa Cajander mentioned as a consequence of this phenomenon women are perceived less competent within a group and are assigned to the group’s social tasks. This leaves a woman feeling isolated in her team, and could eventually affect her performance.

A higher risk women face comes from within. Prof. Cajander called this risk the imposter syndrome, where a woman feels that she does not deserve her success and assigns it to chance or to other people. Some women also believe that similar success could have been achieved by a male-counterpart with less time and effort. Positive discrimination, such as scholarships offered for women or women quota systems, also threaten women. In many situations, this type of discrimination leads women to be more criticized for their actions compared to males, especially by other women. Continue reading