Telling Our Stories – Beatrice Evelin Gherbezan
Each year we meet incredible women at womENcourage™ celebrations. We ask womENcourage participants to tell their stories in blog posts. We continue 2022 with Beatrice Eveline Gherbezan, who is a 3rd-year Chemical Engineering student at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland who was hesitant to participate in a celebration not related to her course but found a family in womENcourage.
My different POVs into the ACM conference
By Beatrice Evelin Gherbezan
“…a chemical engineer student participating & volunteering at a computing conference…”
This September, I had the opportunity to participate in the yearly 3-day conference organised by ACM entitled womENcourage. At first, I was hesitant about taking part in this event as it is not closely related to the course I am currently studying. Yet, I decided to give it my best and volunteer on top of participating. It turns out that participating in such an event was extremely helpful, and I would recommend it to everyone, from students to academics and researchers.
Being the first conference of such proportions that I had attended, I did not know what expectations to have. I was highly interested and nervous about attending the research/poster sessions as my team’s poster was one of the accepted posters. On the day, we had a private booth where people could join and ask us questions about the concept behind the poster and what inspired us to do our research.
Visiting the different poster booths during the conference was great. I got to see others’ views on challenges our communities and the world are facing and their different inspirations for their research projects.
“…more than just a conference, being part of a determined team…”
As I was not only participating but also volunteering at the event, I got to take part or at least see snippets of each and all the talks and tutorials. I could never pick one of the events over the others, yet I could admit that “How to start a local chapter” helped me realise that I should focus on myself rather than on how others are doing. Being part of the volunteering team made me realise the importance of open but professional communication. I learned how to listen to other people better. I can wholeheartedly say that the ACM womENcourage conference helped me improve my teamwork, management, orientation, and computer skills as at the helpdesk, you are helping people dealing with many different problems. At the end of the day, I could say the volunteering team and the organisers made me feel so welcome that it felt like we were one big family.
“…new insights into the world of computing…”
Before attending this conference, I did not realise how broad computing is and how it is present in almost every field of work.
This conference did not only help me broaden my understanding of computing in the working fields, but it also allowed me to make connections by meeting like-minded undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, academics, and engineers from Europe and beyond. I believe that these connections will guide me through my professional journey serving as leading figures and role models, offering advice on getting over obstacles and help/support on the computing side of chemical engineering. It also introduced me to a pool of different ideas and gave me different inspirations for my future innovations.
I did not expect the people to be so involved. I thought it would be someone on the screen talking about a subject, yet the interactions between the presenters and the audience were terrific.
The implication of both the Czechitas team, the ACM team and people from all over the world left me speechless. It was a great conference, and it showed me that there are people out there that want to help support women and girls like me to get more confident in their abilities. Also, the conference running so smoothly on an online platform proved that anything could be done properly if the people were interested.
“…a great conference with a wide variety of speakers, offering useful advice for everyone…”
People like the organisers of the conference and speakers like Anett Numa, Digital Transformation Adviser; Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency; Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Professor of Technology Design and Assessment and heads the Human-Computer Interaction Group at TU Wien; Barbara Sicher, Head of Software Engineering, ŠKODA AUTO; Lydia Logan, Global Vice President of Education, IBM; and many others, talked to us about their different experiences in the working field and told us that a good opportunity is always worth a shot. Having such a wide variety of speakers made sure that everyone present could relate to someone and not feel excluded no matter the time and place they are at in their lives.
“…next year and following…”
This was the first womENcourage conference by ACM that I ever attended, yet I can honestly say that it is not the last. I cannot wait for the following year’s one in Cyprus, and hopefully, I will get to experience it in person. I am sure it will live up to my expectations and even better, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in meeting new people and STEM.