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Informatics PhD students engage and shine at the womENcourage conference

PhD students from the Department of Informatics share their experience at the 10th ACM womENcourage conference.

Four PhD students from the Department of Informatics were welcomed at the 10th ACM womENcourage conference in Trondheim, Norway. The conference, focused on fostering connections among women in various STEM fields and supporting their journey in computing, revolved around the theme Computing Connecting Everyone. This theme emphasised computing as a tool to bring together diverse minds and cultures from academia and industry, particularly poignant in a world seeking reconnection after the pandemic. Representing the Department of Informatics in person were Madeleine Waller, Elfia Bezou Vrakatseli, Carlota Vazquez Gonzalez, and Yiwen Xing from the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence and Human Centred Computing (HCC) groups.


On the first day, there was a Hackathon and the EUGAIN workshop, in which King’s students immersed themselves. In the hackathon, they teamed up with students from different institutions, working on the topic Social Sustainability through Integration and Inclusion – Addressing Future Challenges in Computer Science. The EUGAIN workshop broadened their horizons with a diverse range of perspectives during its panel discussion, focusing on enhancing gender balance across all levels of the Informatics field. This was achieved through the creation of a European network committed to promoting gender balance within their respective countries and research communities.

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On the second day, King’s students showcased their expertise in HCI and AI, contributing towards the theme of inclusive computing by leading two hands-on workshops. Carlota spearheaded the workshop titled Interactive Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, shedding light on the aspects of the HCI design cycle. Elfia and Madeleine jointly conducted a workshop called Connecting using Computational Argumentation: An Interactive Workshop. Rooted in the AI domain, this workshop emphasised computational methods to structure and evaluate arguments across various sectors such as law and healthcare to facilitate transparent decision-making processes


On the third day, our students demonstrated their research during the poster presentation sessions, seizing opportunities to engage in discussions with attendees from various institutions regarding their work. Yiwen presented Bridging Disciplines with Visualization: Fostering Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Computer Science and Beyond with Design Studies. Elfia showcased Debating Ethics: Enhancing Human & Human-AI Dialogue, and Madeleine presented Bias in Binary Classification: An Argumentation-based Approach to Detection, Explanation, and Mitigation.

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Madeleine, Elfia, Carlota, and Yiwen broadened their professional networks and drew inspiration from the womENcourage steering committee and other notable attendees. They were motivated by the success stories of women in STEM and viewed the participation in the conference as not just an opportunity, but a substantial step forward in augmenting the presence of women in the global STEM field. They hope that future King’s students could attend and continue to foster a future where diversity and inclusion in STEM become a reality rather than mere aspirations.

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