Gender Balance Women Viewpoint

Katharina Morik

At the last ECML PKDD community meeting, some of us encountered that for the next years, no woman will be part of the steering committee and, at the same time, the steering committee has become more powerful than the community meeting.

Why is this a problem?

  • We want to attract female scientists. Women in responsibility are more visible and signal that women are welcome.
  • Homogeneous buddy networks tend to forget aspects that might be of interest for female scientists. This is no negative intention but comes naturally. A woman in the group adds views and issues to the agenda.
  • We want to encourage young scientists. The confidence in young male scientists has pushed their career. This support should be given to young women as well.

How can this problem be solved?

  1. Including at least one female member in the PC becomes part of the qualification for running the conference. High quality shows,e.g., Osmar Zaiane’s ICDM 2011, where the committee is half and half:

  1. We can help finding qualified women, e.g., by maintaining a list of female researchers in Machine Learning and Data Mining.
  2. We might form a purely female proposal.
  3. We might send a representative to the steering committee who introduces female perspectives and encourages other women to participate in community affairs.
Elisa Fromont

My idea is that women are just less eager to gain more and more power than men are (there are exceptions in both sides). I do not think it is a drawback, it’s just (for me) a fact. For example, If I am reviewing for 2 or 3 conferences plus 2 journals in a year, I will decline an invitation to become a member of a journal board just because it’s it too much work for me to do it properly. Most of my male colleagues accept one thing after another without even considering the work load but just considering the increase of visibility and power. And it is a vicious (or virtuous depending on the position) circle: the more you accept, the more you are asked. … I really think that a scientifically good woman who wants to get involved in everything can do it (at least for ECML/PKDD) as a man can. She just has to start organizing tutorial, workshops, talking to people exactly as men do. But, in my opinion, most of the time they just do not want it.

Rosa Meo

There is one of such group (Women in Computer Science) also in Italy and we have this problem: to communicate to young people the creativity and the beauty of our work and how much we enjoy ourselves and we obtain results which are important and useful to people – one thing that women seem to prefer in the choice of their activity. I also agree with you that role models are important and facilitate the recruitment of new researchers in the field.

Silvia Chiappa

There is something wrong in the PC members selection process as there is not much diversity: nearly the same people are PC members of all major conferences in machine learning all the time. This is not fair and also not good for the reviewing process. How are these people selected? If we propose a list of female scientists, we may risk that only people in the list will be invited and therefore discriminate against female scientists not in the list, unless we ensure that everybody can in principle be included. I see only one way to achieve that, which will more in general enable a fairer selection of PC members. Each conference should have a system where people can subscribe, include their CV and express their interest in being a PC member for a year. Of course, minimum requirement (e.g. regarding publications) could be imposed. The selection of PC members should become a transparent process for the community.

Michele Sebag

First of all, a collective message saying that the reply to Katharina’s comments in Athens was despising “The less chair women in 2012 and 2013, the more they’ll want to participate in 2014 and thereafter” at least if it intended to be fun, we are not amused.

Letizia Tanca

Some of you may know the Informatics Europe association: which is the European association of computer science departments and research laboratories whose mission of the association is to foster the development of quality research and teaching in information and computer sciences.

During one of our conferences

we organized a workshop on gender issues in Computer Science:

Moreover, we have produced a report on the image of the discipline among young people

which addresses some of the points. It was produced in 2008, thus many topics might not be totally up-to-date, but there are also some references to people who have written much more ponderous essays on related topics, including gender.

Fosca Giannotti

I add an extra point:

  1. Let’s produce a video in different languages or in english where we record our messages on why more girls or why diversity. I agree with the argument for diversity in computer science (or anywhere else) by Steve Jobs, but I would add another argument:

ICT has changed and will change the society, now society will change ICT: this cannot be a matter of only one sex!

Carla Brodley

I agree that it is important for all of our younger colleagues to feel like they have role models who are in positions of leadership in our community — i.e., steering and program committees. Indeed, I believe that just as it is important to have diversity with respect to research area and country on any PC it is also important to have diversity with respect to gender. When I was general chair of ICML in 2004, through no intentional slight , Russ and Dale chose a senior PC with zero women. I asked them to put on at least 2 and gave them a list of names to choose from. They felt bad that they had not even noticed!!!

Dunja Mladenic

This is an official proposal to the steering committee:

  1. Including at least one representative of the underrepresented gender becomes part of the qualification for running the conference. It will be checked by the proposal chair. …
  2. In case that ECML PKDD Steering Committee is facing gender unbalance, the last active member of the underrepresented gender remains on the committee until a new representative of that gender is included via the regular procedure –

program chairs of the last three years.

Commonly agreed: not just the last representative in the steering c’tee but some engaged woman.