Archive for the 'people' Category

Women in technology I admire…

Ada LovelaceLast year on Ada Lovelace‘s day, I wrote a post about someone I admire. I prepared a lot for that post, but I got very sick on that very day, so I had to crawl out of bed with fever to actually edit the post and publish it.

Call me superstitious, but I postponed taking the pledge this year, thinking that it would be safer to do it if and when I can, than dreading that I can’t do it. I don’t get to spend a lot of time on my blog these days and my sense of guilt is kind of going through the roof by now.

So for today, I would like to thank to some fellow bloggers from whom I’ve learned a lot during the years and who have been inspiration for me for many years now. The list is probably incomplete, and I’ll remember some more names when I’ll go to bed tonight, but here we go:

Nancy White(@nancywhite): although I have never had the chance to meet Nancy face-to-face, her work on online facilitation had a profound impact on everything I studied, wrote and did in both my professional and my social life. I attended her Online Facilitation workshop back in 2006, and I went back as a mentor in 2007. Nancy has a special gift of making everybody feel comfortable and important when participating in an online event,  she is amazingly creative and open to new perspectives. She lives in Seattle and when she’s not on the road, manages to work from home. She is also a well-known chocoholic:)

Stephanie Booth (@stephtara): I met Steph for the first time at Blogtalk 2 in Vienna, in 2004. She and Suw where like twins – always together! I always wanted to go to LIFT and to the Going Solo events she organised, but never made it. She came to Cork for Blogtalk 2008, and so we met again. Her blog is my special Sunday morning treat, many times when I read her posts I feel like someone is putting a mirror in front of me and makes me see things I usually avoid seeing! I learn a lot from her GTD endeavours and I am following on her steps trying out new tools on occasion. She lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, blogs in both English and French and I’m happy I can read in both. She started a coworking space last year and has a beautiful cat.

Suw Charman-Anderson(@suw). Suw is a prolific blogger- she blogs herehere and here. She’s based in London, is married to @kevglobal and has two lovely cats who tweet: @Grabbity and @SirMewton.

We only met once – in Vienna in 2004. Reading Suw is a delight – she’s interested in the same things, but she can put things in writing so much better than I could ever do! In November last year, she began to write to write on Computer Weekly’s Social Enterprise blog, covering various aspects of social technology in business. That was like my best Christmas present ever! Her hobby is making jewelry. She’s actually the one who initiated the whole Finding Ada movement.

Lilia Efimova (@mathemagenic) Lilia is a person I admire a lot. We were both interested in Knowledge Management, but at a time when Social Software was in its infancy (and somehow despised), she had the guts to embark on PhD research that put blogging practices at the centre of developing a knowledge-based ecosystem. She actually gave me the courage to go against the flow and consider what we call today Social Media as a research topic back in 2004!

How we first met: I missed Blogwalk1 because I was just out of hospital after surgery, but went to Blogwalk2 in Nuremberg in May 2004 and met Lilia and Elmine on that occasion. I remember that day very well: I was after a week of teaching at CNAM in Paris and I had to move from Germany to Luxembourg on that very Sunday, but I spent the Saturday in Nuremberg speaking and walking along with all these people whose blogs I was reading, and I was so happy I could be there!
Last summer, I had the honour to  be there when Lilia defended her thesis in Utrecht. Lilia lives in Enschede,  Netherlands.

Elmine Wijnia (@elmine) Elmine is a wise person who asks a lot of thought provoking questions. She’s always on a quest for what could help us live up to our values. The workshop she facilitated together with Ton Zijlstra at reboot9 in Copenhagen was one of those moments when you feel surrounded by creative and intelligent people, the ideas burst from all directions, and sky is the limit! Elmine and Ton live in Enschede, Netherlands, and I’m really looking forward to visit them this summer!

Carmen Holotescu (@cami13) – Carmen is teaching Software Engineering in a renowned Romanian Technical University in my hometown, Timisoara. But she’s also building fantastic apps., a sort of Romanian version of Twitter, but with far more capabilities built in, made her known worldwide. To me, she is the one who gave the Romanian blogosphere the much needed self-awareness, by putting together and maintaining a list of Romanian bloggers at a time when blogging started to take off in Romania back in 2005-2006.

Sabrina Dent (@sabrinadent)  Sabrina is a web designer extraordinaire living in Cork, Ireland with a dog and a husband;)  Although she’s working insanely too many hours, every now and again we get the chance to listen to her witty and thought-provoking presentations at various barcamp-style events across Ireland. Sabrina’s blog is a sort of focal point for many people involved in digital media here in Ireland, and on many occasions I’ve sent my students to have a look at her work and read her blog instead of reading yet another academic paper.  Sabrina is a real treasure and imho we are very lucky to have her here in Ireland!

Alexia Golez(@lexia) – Alexia is originally from Limerick and currently works for Microsoft in Dublin, Ireland. She blogs about everything from current affairs and technology to music and cultural events. And her Red Links are a delight to follow!  She’s part of the fantastic team that organizes the Irish Blog Awards every year – a great opportunity to meet face-to-face hundreds of bloggers from all the ways of life. I had the honour to have Alexia in my class last semester, giving a talk to my 4th year students, and I had the feeling that her insights about her work at Microsoft and the social media landscape in Ireland were extremely valuable for them!

Ina O’Murchu (@Ina) Ina lives in Galway, Ireland. She’s a brilliant community facilitator and a passionate promoter of the semantic web technologies.  She’s always up-to-date with the latest technologies and is very active organising Social Media events in her area.  She was the first blogger I met after I moved to Ireland – I found her blog by accident and then we organised to meet in person when I travelled to Galway. She was the one who introduced me to the Irish blogging scene.

So, on Ada Lovelace’s Day, thank you, ladies, for sharing your knowledge, reflections and enthusiasm day-by-day through your blogs, and for being such a great inspiration for me and for others!

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March 24 2010 | iHCI and Ireland and Life and people and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Every day is a great day

I took the pledge initiated by Suw Charman-Anderson to write a blog post about a woman in technology on Ada Lovelace’s day a few months ago. The following day I started thinking about who would be that woman. I know a lot of remarkable women among bloggers, researchers, software engineers, entrepreneurs, freelancers – I could probably fill a good few pages with names only! And then the choice came naturally: I will honour someone who is an authority in my field of research, and at the same time a fellow country woman.

Daniela Damian In June 2005, I had just started my work on a Global Software Development project at the University of Limerick when I heard her name mentioned: Dr. Daniela Damian, at the time Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria, Canada was the organiser of an International Workshop on Distributed Software Development collocated with the IEEE Requirements Engineering conference – to take place in Paris in August. Some names have such a specific Romanian resonance that you know with certainty when you hear them… I was so glad to find out that a Romanian, and especially a woman  was working in my new field of research!

A few months after, I wrote to her about the idea of creating a collaboration platform for the Global Software Engineering community.  She accepted my suggestions, but  was already a few steps ahead, and the platform became reality soon after that. We stayed in touch, my group invited her to Limerick, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it- her second baby was on the way. The first time we met face to face was at the second international conference on Global Software Engineering – ICGSE’07 in Munich – but it felt like we knew each other for a long, long time.

The ICGSE series of conferences are the continuation of a series of workshops organised or co-organised by Daniela since 2002 that had the role of bringing together a pretty diverse community of academics, researchers and practitioners interested in the field. We have the honour of hosting it here in Limerick this year, and I’m involved in the organisation.

Daniela studied Computer Science in Romania, where she graduated in 1995. She went on to do a masters, and then a PhD in Computer Science/Software Engineering at the University of Calgary in Canada. She finished both her MSc and PhD in 5 years in total, a very short time (5 years is the usual time for a PhD only). Daniela got her PhD in 2001. After one year spent as an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia and working with Unisys,  she returned to Canada and joined the University of Victoria as an Assistant Professor. In 2007, she became an Associate Professor. She is the initiator and the head of the Software Engineering Global interAction Lab – SEGAL at UVic.

This academic year, Daniela is on sabbatical. She spent the first half in Europe and now she’s in Australia. Her husband and two kids are accompanying her. With all her hectic schedule, she was kind enough to answer to a few questions I asked in preparation for this blog post.

I wanted to know what made her choose Computer Science/Software Engineering in the first place, and what attracted her to academia. Here is her answer:

I was very good in math. I was one of the very few young girls competing in national math competitions along with my good male colleagues in middle and high school. A turning point happened in my life when I was discussing with my mom about university… it became clear that I was made to pursue impact in my life, and chose Informatics as a university major because i could apply my strong math skills in the domain of computer science. The specialization in Software Engineering was the result of further inclination for practical application — learning about software development and the challenge of translating customers’ needs into a workable product was just the right for me.Academia also came as a natural choice given my enthusiasm in teaching young minds to be good software engineers themselves. A post-doc in an industrial environment (Unisys) made me be sure that I wished to pursue an academic environment in which to teach students about and how to address the real world software problems, as well as to mentor students become researchers in Software Engineering themselves.

Next thing I wanted to know was if the fact of being a woman working in a technological domain has made any difference:

I think so. Having trained and competed with my boy classmates in math competitions, I always had to convince myself that I could do as well as anybody else. Perhaps that gave me the extra energy to do well. Later on, as a teacher, researcher, supervisor AND a mother in recent years has really been a great challenge but also an opportunity to realize how much women raise to the expectations around them, how well they figure out how to prioritize things in their lives, and how great they are BECAUSE they have this opportunity and experience.

My final question was about something that intrigued me ever since I heard about Daniela:

What is the secret of your fantastic energy? You’re involved in so many things, you have a family and kids at the same time, and you’re following your students very closely. How in the world can one cover all this?

And here is her answer:

I just love what I do :). Or perhaps I just do what I love. I have great mentors, and I listen to them. I surround myself with people that enjoy life and what they do. I take energy from positive people, and I try to empower and inspire others with same positive energy. I have become more humble every year recently, and I try to learn as much as I can from others everyday. As such, every day is a great day because the world around me is what and how I decide to see it. The students I collaborate with are a great source of energy for me themselves, teaching me how to stay sharp so I can help them become who they want to be.

Daniela was very generous sharing “her secret” with every one. We all have our ups and downs. If every one of us could remember that “every day is a great day” and it all depends on what we decide to make of it, this would be a better world!

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March 24 2009 | people and Research and Software engineering and Uncategorized | 2 Comments »