Birds of a Feather on Gender Diversity 

Sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society

In connection to IEEE ICRA 2007

Date and time: Thursday, April 12, 12:20-13:50

Location: Aula Minor of the Angelicum

Organizers: Allison Okamura, Danica Kragic, Aude Billard, Nancy Amato, Mihoko Otake, Robin Murphy

Registration: The event is open to all conference participants. To allow us to estimate attendance, please email Allison Okamura (aokamura at jhu dot edu) with the subject line "BoF Women Lunch" if you would like to attend this event.

Contact and more information: Danica Kragic (dani at kth dot se)


The field of robotics and automation has grown significantly during the past few decades. Today, we are seeing some of the most ground-breaking work being performed by researchers with very different backgrounds: medical doctors collaborating with software and tool designers, physiologists and neuroscientists collaborating with computer vision researchers, behavior and social study researchers collaborating with developers of humanoid robots. It appears that this synergistic trend has brought more women into the field of robotics and automation, which has historically been dominated by men. However, there are still relatively few women at robotics and automation conferences. Our long-term goal is to develop activities that increase the number of women participating in the field of robotics and automation.

Many roboticists are involved in the educational outreach projects to interest young people in science and technology. At the proposed lunch, robotics and automation researchers will discuss their strategies for attracting women to the field. In addition, the opportunity for young female researchers to discuss issues with their more experienced colleagues will encourage them to continue participating on the field. Through these interactions, we also hope to answer some questions about what motivates women in this field. For example, we know that there are some research groups with a large number of female researchers - is this due to culture, the attitude of the principle investigator, or the specific line of research pursued?

Recently, the "Women in Robotics towards Human Science, Technology and Society" has been started as a new international community whose scope includes students, engineers and researchers in robotics, human science and technology. The mission is to provide a venue for discussion and collaboration for technical development that creates enjoyable and efficient style of work and life. We believe that this virtual community could greatly benefit through in-person meetings at this ICRA lunch.

What are Birds of a Feather?

This idiom is a shortening of the proverb "birds of a feather flock together", meaning that people (birds) of the same kind or interest (of a common feather) enjoy spending time (flocking) together. This proverb is believed to date back as far as Greek and Roman times, but has become commonly used as jargon by various groups since the nineteenth century (from Wikipedia).

Topics to discuss:
  1. Career difficulties/requirements/paths
  2. What are the research interests of female researchers in robotics and automation?
  3. What is the male/female senior researcher ratio in RAS and IEEE as a whole?
  4. What is the male/female student ratio in RAS?
  5. Strategies for encouraging young women (from grade school through graduate school) to join the robotics field.?
Related links:
  1. IEEE Women in Enginering
  2. IEEE Robotics and Automation Society
  3.  Women in Automation and Robotics towards Human Science, Technology and Society
  4. Join Women Researchers in Robotics and Automation!

Male researchers are also welcome!

Generated by Danica Kragic, dani at kth dot se