Mary Jane Irwin was selected to receive the 2021 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award in recognition of her more than 30 years of diversity efforts, both in academia at Penn State University and in professional organizations, including the CRA Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Her work in these organizations across three decades has increased the number of women and other under-represented groups in computing at universities (as faculty and students) and as fellows and award recipients.
She was a founding member of CRA-W, served as a steering committee member for more than 20 years, and spearheaded many of the activities and initiatives that we now think of as regular events. Irwin served on the ACM Council, as ACM Vice President, and her work on the ACM Fellow Selection Committee helped to double the number of women elected. She was also instrumental in pushing the NAE to diversify its ranks.
Irwin’s commitment to diversity was actually inspired by meetings with A. Nico Habermann himself when she was on the Advisory Board for NSF CISE of which he was Assistant Director.
This award honors the late A. Nico Habermann, who headed NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and was deeply committed to increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in computing research. With this award, CRA recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and/or successes of underrepresented members in the computing research community.