Telling Our Stories – Ihsan Kamil

Each year we meet incredible women at womENcourage™ celebrations. We ask womENcourage participants to tell their stories in blog posts. We continue 2023 with Ihsan Kamil, who was  a final year Product Design and Technology student, at the University of Limerick in Ireland.She attended the conference in 2021 when the event was held virtually.

Hi, my name’s Ihsan and I’m a final year Product Design and Technology student. I study at the University of Limerick in Ireland and hope to become a leading design researcher in the field of design for health and wellbeing. I have a particular interest in design for women’s health and as such, am completing my Final Design Project on the topic of ‘Home-birthing’. My aim is to create a user-centred design solution that nurtures more positive experiences of home-birthing. In the future, I’d like to take the design research skills I have developed throughout my undergraduate degree and implement them into various industries within the design for health and wellbeing sector. 

I am honoured to have been awarded a ‘Participation Scholarship’ for ACM-WomEncourage 2021 and to have had the opportunity to present at the ‘Poster Sessions’. This was the first academic/research conference I’ve ever attended and if there’s one regret I have, it’s not having engaged more with the workshops and activities. 

This year’s conference was virtual and so I feel like it was easier to get ‘lost’ and miss activities, especially when you are new to the world of conferences and networking events. I imagine that if you attend in person there is a more prominent obligation on you to attend more workshops, network, and build connections. I feel like this was something I missed out on. I definitely should have taken more of an initiative when it came to attending workshops and activities. 

My other regret is not having attended the ‘Hackathon’. Before attending the conference, I had never heard of a ‘Hackathon’ and assumed it related to computer science and coding (especially since the conference was for Women in Computing!). I’m a design student and do not code or know much about computer science. However, I discovered afterwards that a ‘Hackathon’ is in fact all about problem solving, innovating, and ideating solutions, which is exactly up my alley! Having missed out on that because of my inexperience is a shame, but I can safely say I will, without a doubt, attend the next ‘Hackathon’ I come across and I recommend you do the same! 

Aside from presenting at the ‘Poster Sessions’, I also represented my research team at the ‘Poster Roundtable’, where I got the opportunity to speak about our research in a more informal manner and learn about other research projects. I really enjoyed this aspect of the conference and got to answer questions about the importance of our research project and why I believe representing women within STEMMD is critical. 

In conclusion, if there’s anyone new to conferences and research reading this, I’d highly recommend interacting and engaging with as many activities as you possibly can, I know in the future I will. If you are thinking about attending the next ACM WomEncourage conference, I hope you can learn from my mistakes and make the most of this amazing networking opportunity! 

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