In honor of Women’s History Month, the National Science Foundation’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (NSF OLPA) put together a Distinguished Lecture entitled “Reflection and Vision: Women in Computing Share Insights on STEM”. Moderated by current NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Assistant Director, Margaret Martonosi, the lecture featured two past NSF CISE ADs Ruzena Bajcsy, and Jeannette Wing.
Dr. Bajcsy was “one of the first women” in many regards in the STEM field. She received her M.S. and first Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava, Slovak Republic and in 1972 she graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. After graduation, she worked as a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where in 1978, she established the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Lab, which fostered interdisciplinary research activities from electrical and mechanical engineering to psychology/cognitive science. She served as the NSF CISE AD from 1998-2001.
Currently, she is the NEC Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley where she founded the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), a multicampus organization. She also played a founding role in establishing a program of Digital Humanities.
“My message to the younger generation is we all live in the same community, we strive or die with the community. I always felt it was our responsibility once we got to a certain level to help grow and flourish the community. I had a specific agenda to help.” – Ruzena Bajcsy
Dr. Wing’s career combined stints in academia and industry. After receiving her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from MIT, Wing served as Head of the Department of Computer Science and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. During a leave of absence she acted as the NSF CISE AD from 2007-2010. After Carnegie Mellon University she went to Microsoft where she served as Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, overseeing research labs worldwide. Wing now is Executive Vice President for Research and Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University.
“My dad said engineering is using math to solve real world problems and after that answer I said I want to study engineering that did it for me and that basically set me on my career for life.” – Jeannette Wing
Dr. Martonosi currently serves as the AD for NSF CISE. After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University she graduated in 1993 with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. After graduating, she went to Princeton University where she is now the H.T. Adams ’35 Professor of Computer Science. She received the Computing Research Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2020 for her work with others to co-found the ACM CARES movement.
“When I talk early career scientists that’s, that is the most fun thing I do because they have this incredible energy and vision that they bring to their work.” Margaret Martonosi
Although their stories and career paths are very different, each woman played a transformative role in NSF and the STEM field as a whole. The lecture explores what sparked their interest in STEM (particularly in computer science and engineering), how the field and their engagement with the field has evolved over time and key transformative moments that transformed or defined their career path.
You can watch the full lecture here.