Professor earns scholarship to attend women in technology conference

HAZLETON, Pa. — A Penn State Hazleton professor received a scholarship to attend the largest annual worldwide gathering of women technologists.

Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology Nargess Tahmasbi was one of the faculty recipients of the Anita Borg scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology in Houston, Sept. 26 to 28. The conference is attended by approximately 20,000 women from across the globe.

A select few participants are chosen to receive the scholarship, with only 22 faculty members receiving the award in 2017. The scholarship covers all costs for attending the conference, which includes many events tailored for faculty members as well as students.

This will be Tahmasbi’s second time at the conference. She previously attended as a doctoral student funded through her college.

“I found the experience amazing and decided to apply for the scholarship this year as a faculty member,” she said.

The Grace Hopper Celebration is a celebration for women technologists, by women technologists. It is produced by and presented in partnership with Association for Computer Machinery (ACM). The conference shares’s mission to grow the number of women in computer science roles.

Last year’s event was attended by more than 18,000 people from 81 countries in the corporate, academic, nonprofit, national laboratory and government sectors. It featured 16 tracks, 405 sessions and 804 speakers.

As in previous years, this year’s conference has a track designed specifically for faculty attendees.

“I anticipate leaving the conference with many good connections made and more inspired to move forward. I believe this conference will benefit my teaching as well. Two of the faculty-oriented events are about effective teaching tactics and pedagogies,” Tahmasbi said.

One of her goals is to increase the engagement of female students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. She hopes to take Penn State Hazleton students to the conference in the coming years.   

“I plan to gather as much as best practices and ideas I can from my peers on their strategy to encourage more women in computing,” she said. “The events will provide inspiration and useful ideas to increase the percentage of female students in STEM-related majors, especially in computer science and IST, a challenge that we are dealing with at the moment.”