On 12-13 of June, Warsaw Expo Centre held the annual Women in Tech Summit; as a Shesnnovation (a Perspektywy Foundation mentoring program) alumni, Emilia got a free pass for the summit.
On Tuesday, Janina Bąk gave a lecture on the main stage, gathering, as always, the whole house. Janina is our bellowed statistician who, with unceasing humor, speaks about education, rights of minorities (and majorities -women), psychological health and proved that a book or even now two books about statistics could become bestsellers.
The lecture, as always, was a rollercoaster of jokes, funny facts, and digressions that, in the meantime, showed that system of education functions in a way that kills the natural ability for maths and leads girls to change their minds about their skills and possibilities. She also mentioned Intel’s action “Bajki zaktualizowane,” which rewrote popular children’s stories to give girl characters the freedom to be more than just beautiful and passive and “to be rescued” parts of the tales. Emilia already has a copy and can recommend the new Cinderella with all her heart.
After the inspirational talk Emilia participated in a Gender Equality Plans in Action session, during which Prof. Maria Klawe, previously Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, told how as a president managed to change the Harvey Mudd College to be an inclusive institution, with excellent teaching scores.
She deliberately chose a small institution even though after being dean at Princeton, she had offers from top universities because she thought it would be possible to make a difference in such a place, as the structures would be smaller and less rigid. It still was a struggle that started with making a strategic plan. Like in Pixar, a few-day event was organized, starting with an inspiring lecture given by an outside professor, after which people could join breakout sessions to talk about specific topics: Why is diversity important? What is essential in undergrad education? On the second day, people were asked to join their or other sessions to discuss implementing the ideas developed during the first day. It was still a long way. However, today, Harvey Mudd College is based on student collaboration rather than competitions; mentoring; it has no “weed out” courses. Since 2016 the number of students graduating is not biased by gender, even in majors like computer science.
The session was also a chance to check how Polish institutions are doing on this topic, with an excellent presentation from Gdańsk University. After the talk, Emilia had an opportunity to talk with GEP (Gender Equality Plan) representatives from several institutions to exchange ideas and good practices.
On the second day, Emilia and Marcin participated in Dziewczyny do Nauki project meeting led by prof. Marta Gmurek from Lodz University of Technology during which participants discussed different ideas on how the project could evolve in the future to encompass not only students but also Ph.D. candidates and postdocs. After the discussion prof. Iwona Chlebicka from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics, and Mechanics, University of Warsaw, talked about her carrier and how it intertwined with her personal life. The talk was an example of the presentation we could give students to inspire them to start a page in STEM.