ACM-W Board: Cristal Hermasillo ’17, Sierra Magnotta ’18, Anushikha Sharma, Professor Darakhshan Mir, Laura Poulton ’18, Tongyu Yang ’18
By Sean Gilchrist ’17, Staff Writer
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) has awarded Bucknell’s new chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery-Women (ACM-W) with a $3000 grant to be used as a startup seed fund. The grant will allow for the growth and development of Bucknell’s ACM-W, a student group that aims to mentor and inspire women in computer science.
One of only seven recipients, Bucknell was selected from a pool of applicants from many colleges and universities within the United States. The Bucknell chapter of ACM-W consists of around 20 active members, and plans to continue recruiting members and serving students through several academic and social programs throughout the semester. Initiatives for this year include a diversity panel where students can ask questions to alumni, professors and their peers who have been actively involved in the STEM disciplines and a peer mentoring program that pairs first-year students with upperclassmen. Additionally, the startup seed fund will fund mentor training, weekly lunches, mini-hackathons, bonding activities and tutoring sessions.
Sponsored by Google.org, the gift recognizes the hard work and energetic initiatives of the dedicated ACM-W student leaders: President Anushikha Sharma ’18, computer science & engineering and women’s & gender studies; Vice President Laura Poulton ’18, computer engineering; Treasurer Cristal Hermosillo ’17, computer science; Secretary Sierra Magnotta ’18, linguistics; and Outreach Liaison Tongyu Yang ’18, computer science & engineering.
“ACM-W at Bucknell is an example of what students can do when they are dedicated to improving their and their fellow students’ learning experiences — when they take matters in their own hands,” said Professor Darakhshan Mir, computer science, the ACM-W faculty adviser. “The current ACM-W leaders envision ACM-W as a vehicle to create a more inclusive environment in computer science, and as an expression of commitment by our community of students to inclusivity in computing, whether they are women or not. In fact, I am delighted by the words of support I have been receiving from male students on the accomplishments of ACM-W. The entire community has an important role to play here, and ACM-W intends to include everyone. I am looking forward to working with them on these initiatives.”
Women currently comprise 20 percent of the software workforce and similarly, only about 20 percent of computer science majors at the University. This year’s programs will help build ACM-W as an organization where students find support and encouragement among their peers. The organization is open not only to women but to all students who might find interest in computer science or who want to support the organization as allies, whether they identify as women or not.