We organized our second Women In Sage event this April in Crete. We were 22 women staying in the village of Archanes working on the mathematical software SageMath.
The participants arrived to Archanes over the week-end and the event started officially on the Monday morning. Viviane Pons opened the event with a Sage introduction. In the afternoon, we worked on installing Sage on everyone’s machine.
We organized short research presentations on the Tuesday morning before moving to individual and group projects. On Tuesday afternoon, Viviane Pons gave a presentation of Sage contribution, version control and good practice for sharing code. We started a “contributor group” whose goal was to get a development version of Sage and start their first contribution to the software.
In the rest of week, we worked both in group and individually on our different projects involving Sage. You can read our final status reports on our webpage.
The event also included a visit of Archanes archaeological site Fourni and a social dinner at a local restaurant.
The data presented here come from a post-event questionnaire sent to the participants.
This event followed our previous OpenDreamKit Women in Sage. The co-organizer Eleni Tzanaki was a participant of the first event. We also had 3 participants of the first event who also attended this one.
Our participants came from 8 different countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Greece, UK, US, Romania and Peru) and 15 of them were PhD or Master students. We were supposed to welcome three participants from Nigeria but they were sadly not able to obtain their visas in time.
As before, the goal was to motivate women to participate and improve their self confidence regarding coding. Even though advanced developers were welcome, we tried to make the event welcoming for new coders and mathematician women without any experience in Sage.
The women who attended the conference had various level of programming experience ranging from 1 (no experience) to 5 (a lot of experience).
This disparity also reflected in their knowledge of Sage.
As for contributions, only 3 participants had contributed to Sage in the past . Also, a majority of participants had never attended a Sage Days before. Actually, 9 of them had never even heard of Sage Days and 3 of them said they did not think it was “for them”.
To the question “How did the fact that the event was targeted to women impact your decision to come? (Would you have participated in a classical SageDays)”, Many participants answered that it was indeed a factor a their decision.
It helped, made me feel more encouraged to apply
I may have participate anyway but the fact that it was only for women made me want to participe even more.
It was my first workshop in Europe so I felt more comfortable working with women first but now I think I can go to any kind of workshop.
It is the reason that I applied to go. Along with the fact that it was open to participants with limited experience, it made me feel that I was a good fit.
I think I also would have participated in a classical SageDays - but the fact that this event was targeted only to women made it more attractive for me. I hoped for a nice(r) atmosphere, and this was definitely the case.
The event helped building up the confidence of the participants, 11 of them said they felt more confident to attend classical Sage Days after the event.
We had a working group specifically dedicated to getting started with Sage contribution. As a result, 6 participants got a development version of Sage installed for the first time. We worked on 5 tickets during the week, 3 of those which have been merged since the conference. All participants said they had learned new things and it would impact their careers.
This also was an occasion to start projects and form more research and development collaborations for future.
All of this happened in a very casual and welcoming atmosphere. We used the common room of the main house to work. We cooked international, vegetarian friendly meals using delicious ingredients from Crete. We took nice walks around the village and had perfect ice-creams. We got to know each other and shared more than code. All participants agreed that it was a very positive experience.
The group was amazing!
There was a great atmosphere at the conference. I never felt intimidated or that I should be worried about my level of knowledge. It was easy to talk with everyone there and to ask/give help. Overall it was very positive and supportive.
This was the first time I didn’t have imposter syndrome since starting my PhD. Everyone was so welcoming and there was an understanding that we were all from different backgrounds and with different levels of experience. It felt very easy to make suggestions and ask questions without the fear of being judged.