Sunday, 5 July 2015

Why would I attend WomEncourage 2015? Memories from WomEncourage 2014!

I am marking my calendar for the second WomENcourage conference that is going to be at Uppsala University, Sweden from 24-26 September 2015.  I recall my last year WomENcourage conference experiences, and wonderful memories, which I'm writing here to share with others.

The very first WomENcourage, 2014 Conference held on March 1, 2013, in Manchester, UK.  Having prior experience of attending Women in Computing - Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) conference, I was looking forward to attending the WomEncourge 2014. I was kind of expecting a similar or better experience from it. Even I assumed WomEncourge would be a pretty much similar like GHC, but my motivations for attending the events were not the same. That was because there were a number of things that had changed or progressed since 2009 in both personal and professional front.  

Now you would be wondering why am I sharing all these here. The reason is very obvious.  I think many of you can relate your personal or professional stages to mine, and could find it useful to find the answer to the question.

The Question is "Why would I attend WomEncourage 2015?"

In 2009, being a second year Ph.D. and only female student in the group, GHC seemed very attractive venue for networking, especially for meeting other female students, well-known professors, and top IT companies' recruiters.  It was one of the best experience I have ever had.  GHC was full fun-filled, warm and friendly yet professionally organized networking event.

In 2014, WomEncourage was my first conference after my personal one-year career break and it was an excellent opportunity to get back to the track.  This time more than networking, I was looking for mentors and their inspiring stories and suggestions on how to balance personal and professional life, especially in an academic environment.  And I am glad I made efforts to attend the event, which provided me the great opportunity network and speak to some of very warm and friendly female professors, lecturers as well students. Everyone inspired me in some or other way!

I am sharing some of the advice/suggestions I heard from them here:
"Ohh, you are already doing so good! Managing a year old child with full-time research job is totally awesome, I wish I could do the same when I get into that stage." - from a first year Ph.D. student.

The impact of this statement is much more than what you can think. This statement made me think how I can balance both my personal and professional life so I can be a source of inspiration for others?

"Don't worry about not publishing work or working late nights. Just lean in, time flies so quickly, things will be on track eventually, but don't give up. Trust your instincts and work what suits better for you. Resist the urge to finish things with perfection. Embrace imperfection."  - from a senior professor, while advising on balancing a young family with an early research career.

"Delegate tasks to others!!! When at home, share household chores with your partner or family members! Make time for quality time with your family and friends, this helps in recharging your batteries. When at work, share tasks with students, other co-workers, and collaborators. Resist the habit of doing all things yourself. Especially when you think no one else can do better than you. If that is the case then take the time to train and mentor others, and the most important,  learn to accept imperfection!" - from a senior lecturer.

You may have heard or read these types of suggestions few times before. But when you get the real stories from others how these tricks helped them in achieving their goals, leave a solid impression on you.

So in short, you should attend WomEncourage 2015 if you are interested in:
1. building your support network: meeting female students, academicians, technology evangelists and
2. learning new research ideas and widening your research domains.
3. finding new research collaborators.
4. publicizing your research work either by presenting research papers or posters.
5. finding mentors.
6. mentoring and motivating others.
7. raising awareness of an important issue by discussing it in a panel or workshop.
8. learning from others- intelligent and creative minds.