Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News From Brazil
Ambassador: Claudia Bauzer Medeiros – Institute of Computing, University of Campinas

Computer Science university teachers, in Brazil, are becoming increasingly conscious of the problem of the decreasing presence of women among undergraduate and even graduate students. As a result, a few initiatives are being organized. The first is the creation, in 2007, of an official event sponsored by the Brazilian Computer Society (Sociedade Brasileira de Computação) concerning issues surrounding Women in Information Technology (WIT). Interestingly enough, this event has attracted a large percentage of male participants, who are intrigued by this problem. The third WIT (WIT 2009) will take place in July, in the city of São Leopoldo, in the South of Brazil, being co-located with the SBC national conference.

All previous WIT (s) were also co-located with this conference, which is a very good decision, since it attracts every year over 2000 participants from all over Brazil. Hence, many people have become aware of the problem. Many of WIT participants are now actively promoting new initiatives to attract more women, and to raise the overall awareness about related issues.

One interesting initiative is to start a bimonthly column in a new electronic magazine, called SBC Horizons, to discuss opportunities and challenges for women in IT. SBC Horizons will be launched in December 2008, and is to be distributed to thousands of SBC student members. It will also be available on the Society´s Web site. I am the co-editor of this column, together with Prof. Sandra Fabbri from the Federal University at São Carlos. The magazine is geared towards undergraduate students, and covers matters related to job market, career opportunities, curriculum options and research challenges. Several subjects are also of interest to high school students who are considering career options. Hence, this column – called Bits, Bytes e Batom (bits, bytes and lipstick) will hopefully attract more girls to IT courses. We welcome suggestions for subjects and material to cover!