5 tips for being more inclusive!

Post by Neeshé Khan (2018 Cohort)

I’m writing this blog post while travelling on a highspeed train that’s currently running from Glasgow (Scotland) back to where I need to be. Whizzing past towns is a blur of colour – to me these blotches of blurred colour represent so much life,  emotions, tears, love, loss, endless stories and experiences. Some of these stories we might get to hear about and many more never get heard.

Much like this blotch of colour, my mind is also a blur with so many thoughts, ideas and experiences that I soaked up at CHInclusionworkshop. CHI is a prestigious conference which has seriously started thinking about inclusion at their events – to open up to new audiences and making those attending feel included in this computer science community.

Having attended this workshop was particularly timely for me. I recently had the privilege of being interviewed about diversity and inclusion of females in the cybersecurity and AI fields and share my own experiences in regards to this for Women’s History Month. I don’t believe that it was something in specific that I had done but rather just that I ended up being at the right place at the right time.

I’ve also noticed how a lot of my conversations with my close support network have been focused on diversityinclusionsocial justice and equal opportunities. I thoroughly enjoy these conversations because (selfishly) they offer me great mental stimulation. I believe that these phenomena are interlinked and must be seen in a circular rather than a lateral way and think this is one of the greatest challenges we face for a better future.

These are some of my learnings from the interview, personal discussions and the CHInclusive workshop, which I hope will be inspirational to you but also in time serve as a reminder to myself – enjoy!

Everything is a two-way mirrorI came across a sentence at the workshop which deeply resonated with me. It was something along the lines of ‘see yourself in others and see others in you’. I feel this is the core of being inclusive to others. It’s important to strive to find commonalities with anyone rather than differences. It’s a two-way mirror where we must constantly try to see others’ stories and challenges in our own experiences while also seeing ourselves in their actions and choices.

2. Inclusion and diversity are separate but the same in many ways. We must think about these carefully as one is insufficient without the other. Inclusion speaks about including everyone along the way, just bring everyone along for the ride! To me, diversity essentially means taking a range of skillsets along for your ride. Even if that means that someone might offer the same skillset as you. They can still do things very differently to how you do them. One is not better or worse than the other, just different. I firmly believe diversity goes beyond gender and must start to seriously encompass ethnic minorities and truly represent diverse audiences, each participant bringing their own skillset.

3. Empower ourselves and those around you. Be more inclusive to everyone. Be more diverse in your engagements. Be mindful of your conscious and unconscious biases. We’re all people who are saying the same things in different ways. Some things we’ll inevitably love to hear and others we’ll dread but listen to them anyway. This might empower you, as well as others, to create spaces that are tolerant and encouraging of new thoughts, people and things.

4. It’s not personal. I feel it’s important to remember that any comment that might exhilarate or aggravate you, it’s not personal. No one other than you has travelled your journey, faced your challenges, overcome your adversities or experienced what you’ve experienced and how you’ve experienced it.

5. Create space for others even if you feel that space isn’t created for you. This can be especially hard to experience. Ultimately, it still allows you to offer a space that’s safe for anyone who needs it. You can foster micro-universes of interaction that will lead to others being empowered and eventually you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who offer this same space to you in a much deeper and richer way than you can imagine.

—originally posted at https://neeshekhan.wordpress.com/

My Journey to a PhD

Post by Abigail Fowler (2016 Cohort)


STEM “My Journey to a PhD” Talk, February 2019

I joined a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) event at Loughborough Grammar School. I was happy to join in when I heard they were running STEM events for secondary school boys and girls. On a rather wet and windy day, I headed to the event hoping the pupils would enjoy my talk and have some interesting questions.

My talk covered My Journey to a PhD, my research, and a memory game to demonstrate working memory. The game involved seeing an image of items from around the home and kitchen for 10 seconds. Then having 10 seconds to write down as many items as they could remember. I took the items with me as a tactile version in case any blind or partially sighted pupils attended. Somewhat ironically I forgot to boil an egg to take with me to match the image, but improvised with an egg cup for the tactile version.

The talk went really well and the pupils loved the memory test. No one got all 14 items, and they all sighed when I put the image back up so they could see what they’d missed. The second test involved spotting what was missing from an image, and they all answered the moment the slide appeared. It was a simple but effective demonstration of how our ability to remember varies between tasks and this should be considered in design. I am glad I included a practical element as it is always great to get more interaction. The group had been hesitant to ask questions, so it was good to give them permission to get involved at the end of the talk.

My PhD is sponsored by the rail industry. It turned out that Network Rail provide funding for a STEM challenge. Pupils were eager to hear how they could work on projects of interest to Network Rail. I suggested they consider level crossings, and how to influence the behaviour of level crossing users, as this is an area of great interest to the rail industry.

During the day I got to hear some of the current ideas students had for their own STEM projects. These included how to detect when someone is having an allergic reaction to food and designing a water filtration system to provide drinking water. I was really impressed with the range of projects and their innovation.

I talked to the teacher afterwards, and they will be coordinating STEM events in the future across the region to raise awareness with pupils of opportunities and future careers in STEM. I welcome this programme, and the links that can be built between schools and universities to support pupils in their further education of STEM subjects.

—Originally posted at

Siyang presents at IEEE FG 2018

In May Siyang Song gave a conference talk at IEEE onference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition 2018 on his work around facial recognition: Human Behaviors-based Automatic Depression Analysis using Hand-crafted Statistics and Deep Learned Spectral Features. 

He said that it was an amazing experience, but felt a little nervous about speaking infront of an expert audience and in his reflections thinks that he needs to get some more practice in public speaking to boost his confidence.

His advice to other PhD students:

“don’t be shy, a top conference can give us chances to exchange ideas with most successful and famous guys in our field face to face”

 

Will 2019 be the year your publish and present some of your PhD research?

Challenge accepted: two students take part in coding challenge.

via GIPHY

Velvet Spors (2017 Cohort) and Ahmed Al-Talabany (2016 Cohort) have accepted the challenge set by the Digital Economy Network (DEN) to code for one hour a day for 21 days.

Velvet and Ahmed join students from across the EPSRC Digital Economy CDT network to practice their coding skills and are recording their progress through Twitter using the hashtag #DENCodingChallenge. Ahmed is working on creating a map and running routing algorithms through it while Velvet is working on a bookmarklet.

 

Follow Velvet and Ahmed’s progress on Twitter and read more about the DEN Challenge here.