Lunch Keynotes

Lunch Keynote 1

Title: FemTech.dk: Broadening Participation to Computing
Speakers: Maria Menendez-Blanco and Pernille Bjørn, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Date: Tuesday 22 October 2019

Abstract: In the digital age, the fields and professions related to computing are having an unprecedented impact on our lives, and on societies. As computing becomes integrated in fundamental ways in healthcare, labor markets, and political processes, questions about who participates and takes decisions in developing digital technologies are becoming increasingly crucial and unavoidable. This keynote addresses this pressing issue by discussing gender issues in computing through our experience running FemTech.dk.
Denmark is often viewed as a progressive country with gender equality; therefore, the gender homogeneity displayed in computer science education often comes as a surprise. However, in 2016, only 8% of the incoming bachelor students were women at DIKU. This situation was the trigger for FemTech.dk, an action research project started in 2017 at DIKU. The project focuses on creating opportunities for young women with no prior interest in Computer Science to explore ways in which computing could match their personal interests.
Unsurprisingly, our results show that there is no silver bullet to address the gender gap in computing. Throughout this project we have developed a great amount of insights which can be useful for engaging in similar endeavors and prompting discussions among those interested in addressing the issue of women as gender minority in computing. These insights include the importance of changing computer science departments from “within”, the relevance of challenging stereotypical and narrow definitions of computer science, and the instrumentality of interactive artefacts in prompting change.

Maria Menendez-Blanco is a post-doctoral researcher at the Human-Centered Computing section (HCC) at the University of Copenhagen. She obtained her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Trento and before that she worked at Delft University and at Eindhoven University of Technology. She is the co-organizer of FemTech.dk. Her research focuses on interaction design for societal engagement with a special interest in how digital technologies foster, and hinder, democratic forms of participation. She a member of the program committee of several international conferences such as the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) and Participatory Design Conference (PDC).

Pernille Bjørn is full professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen. She just returned from her Fulbright Scholarship at University of Washington where she established the research project AtariWomen.org which is dedicated to tell stories about women and other minority groups contribution to the gaming industry in the 1970-80s. Her main field of research is Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), and she has published work on healthcare, global software development, and IT entrepreneurship. Throughout her carrier she spend time abroad as vising researcher at University of California, Irvine, Simon Fraser University, and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India. Currently she is paper co-chair for CHI2020 and CHI2021. For more information visit pernillebjorn.dk.