India’s First-Ever Celebration of Women in Computing

September 22, 2010
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

“We need to help women break barriers and boundaries,” stated Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, at the opening of the Amrita ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing conference organized at the Coimbatore campus last week by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Women Computing

The first-ever such conference organized in India, it drew 800 delegates including students, faculty and professionals, from all parts of the country.

As general chair of the conference, Dr. Krishnashree welcomed delegates and invitees including Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, Amma’s senior disciple; Dr. Venkat Rangan, Vice-Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Dr. Sheela Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Avinashilingam University for Women.

Women Computing

ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, was represented by Ms. Gayatri Burgohain, ACM-W Ambassador in India and Dr. Srinivas Padmanabhuni of Infosys, Chair of the ACM chapter in Bangalore.

“Chancellor Amma has said that women play a key role in the progress of society,” Dr. Krishnashree added. “There are emerging trends in computing that students should learn about and participate in.”

And over the two days, students and professionals had an opportunity to do just that as they attended key note speeches, panel discussions, paper and poster presentations.

Women Computing

Prominent women in computing from the US including Dr. Rema Padman from Carnegie Mellon University and Dr. Radha Nandakumar from University of Illinois at Urbana Champiagn delivered key note addresses.

Panel discussions focused on topics such as Challenges for Women in Higher Education and Research and Road Ahead for Women in Computing.

Women Computing

Participants in the panel discussions included Dr. Hema Murthy and Dr. Kamala Krithivasan, both from IIT Madras, Dr. Rohini Srihari (University at Buffalo), Dr. Lakshmi Vaideeswaran (Dow Chemicals), Dr. Deanna Kosaraju (Anita Borg Institute of Women, California), Dr. Nilima Kadambi (Swiss Reinsurance), Dr. Sangeetha Bhattacharya (Intel), Ms. Hema Gopal (Tata Consultancy Services) and Dr. Padmavathi Ganapathi (Avinashilingam University).

Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham was represented by Dr. Nirmala Vasudevan, Dr. Shikha Tripathi, Dr. Harini Jayaraman and Ms. Bhavani Bijlani.

Women Computing

A session on Awakening of the Universal Motherhood – Transforming Ordinary to Extraordinary – by Bri. Meera highlighted the message from Chancellor Amma’s life and teachings to the distinguished audience.

Quoting from Chancellor Amma’s keynote speech on Awakening Universal Motherhood delivered in Geneva in 2002, Bri. Meera emphasized that there is a man in the depths of every woman and a woman in the depths of every man, and that the feminine and masculine qualities in one should balance.

Earlier Swamini Krishnamrita Prana had shared Amma’s message with the same audience. “Women have the great gift of multi-tasking. They can bring success to work and happiness to the home.”

Women Computing

“There is infinite light within us. Tap into the inner reservoir. By your sincerity and self-confidence, grace will flow. Work with optimism. If you fall, get up, move forward with enthusiasm. With persistence and a selfless attitude, women can accomplish miracles.”
Read Complete Speech »

“It was very good event,” stated Hemalatha G., Assistant Professor at Karunya University, who attended. “The keynote speakers were really inspiring. Such conferences should be conducted frequently to encourage women.”

The event also saw the release of a directory of Women in Computing in India. The Amrita ACM-W chapter was inaugurated. Students attended workshops on career development and writing research papers.

Women Computing

“The conference gave us women in computing a lot of confidence,” added Supriya M from Amrita’s campus at Bengaluru.

An exhibition that showcased innovative student projects was a popular destination for delegates during breaks.

Key organizers including Dr. Latha Parameshwaran, Dr. Vidhya Balasubramanian and Ms. V. Smrithi Rekha commented. “This was a great experience for us. Working as one team, answering queries, interacting with everyone was a wonderful learning experience.”

“We wanted to motivate women – both students and young researchers – to pursue higher education and research in the field of computing. And we are happy to state that the objective was definitely met.”

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