Welcome to ACM-W North America!
April 24, 2020
In 2019, the ACM-W Committee formed the North America region to carry out the ACM-W mission with a specific focus on North America. Our new region functions similarly to ACM-W Europe and ACM-W India, meeting the needs and growing the ACM community by supporting, celebrating, and promoting women who have chosen computing as a career or discipline of study.
Like others, at this point in my career I have many opportunities and interests that I could pursue. Why, then, would I spend my time volunteering for ACM-W? The pragmatic side of me understands that better products are created by diverse teams. There is a mountain of research on this, and it really is common sense. Diverse teams are less likely to move into “group think” and challenge each other more. Diverse teams are more representative and can help ensure that “others” are considered–like in visual recognition systems that are more likely to misclassify people of color or in credit card lending software that is more likely to extend higher credit limits to men.
The social side of me sees the great inequities across those holding well-paying jobs in computing. Computing is a great field to study and master, and computing careers are some of the most highly paid in the world. Yet, the field continues to be dominated by men. I can personally attest to the benefits from choosing to pursue computing as a field of study in college. As a single parent for many years, I was always aware that my financial stability for my family and me came significantly from me choosing a career that paid better than average. Everyone should have the same opportunity to be aware of and encouraged to choose computing as a career.
Finally, the joyful side of me has been intellectually challenged, motivated, and rewarded by working in the field. As I sit here writing this, I know that there are girls in my neighborhood and city that would enjoy this field as much as I have. Knowing that they may never have the opportunity because a counselor’s implicit biases encouraged them to pursue a field that has been more acceptable for women is discouraging. As a field, computing has been so personally rewarding. I want to ensure that other girls have the same opportunity that I had and that women who have chosen it as a career path are seen and heard.
I am honored to be serving as the inaugural chair of the new ACM-W North America committee. Frankly, it’s a win-win for me–not only do I have the opportunity to work with a group of talented women who have established careers in computing, I am able to do so while delivering a critical component of ACM designed to increase the diversity and inclusion in our field. That means more women and underrepresented groups pursuing their dreams and realizing their potential in a wonderful field unfettered by closed attitudes, minds and doors.
My very best wishes to you as you consider joining us in our mission and the many volunteers who already do. Whether it’s creating a local ACM-W Student Chapter at your college or university, running an ACM-W Celebrations event, or sharing your love of computing through our social media or through other outreach activities, we invite you to become a part of the ACM-W family. Please consider joining us in making an impactful and measurable difference throughout North America.
Monica McGill, ACM-W North America, Chair
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