Ladies Who Tech以特别项目系列采访拉开了母亲节这个月份的序幕，对处于STEM前沿的、了不起的女性们进行了一对一的访谈。这些杰出女性不仅是她们孩子心中优秀的榜样，同时在职场中以身作则，在担任高级职位的同时倡导在自己所在的领域中提升女性同伴的地位。
Ladies Who Tech kicked off Mother's Day month by launching a series of interviews with incredible women who are at the forefront of STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Not only are these women excellent role models for their children, but they're also leading by example at the workplace, taking on senior-level positions while advocating for the advancement of fellow women in their field.
In the past month, we looked at the inspiring journeys of these women, the challenges they faced in male-dominant industries, their willpower in maintaining a strong commitment to both their families and work, how institutions are providing support to mothers (or the lack of it), and how these women have pushed the conversation on gender equality in STEM disciplines.
站在科研最前沿的她 A scientist in her own right
董博士已在国际权威期刊及学术会议上发表学术论文40余篇，申请发明专利近20项。她曾主持或主要参与了国家自然科学基金、科技部重点研发计划等20余项国家和省部级科研项目，并拥有美国电气电子工程师学会（IEEE）高级会员身份。她现任中国图象图形学学会（CSIG）理事、副秘书长、CISG女工委秘书长，中国人工智能学会（CAAI）理事，北京图象图形学学会（BSIG）理事，IEEE亚太区(Region 10)执委、公益科技活动委员会(Humanitarian Technology Activities Committee) 主席、IEEE女工程师协会北京分会(Women in Engineering Beijing Affinity Group) 副主席、中国教科院STEM教育协同创新中心指导专家。她还曾于2017-2018年度担任IEEE亚太区女工程师委员会（WIE Committee）主席，曾被授予2018年度国际模式识别大会最佳科研论文奖、中国人工智能学会第七届理事会“杰出贡献奖“及2016年度“IBM教职人员奖”。
董博士告诉Ladies Who Tech：“我的科研兴趣领路人是我的良师兼益友谭铁牛院士。在自动化所攻读博士学位期间，导师谭院士给我指定了数字图像取证这个大论文选题。随后我在进行相关文献调研和国内外现状梳理时逐渐对这个领域，尤其是计算机视觉、机器学习等AI相关的研究内容产生了浓厚的兴趣。毕业之后又有机会留在CRIPAC继续开展这方面的科研工作，于是就在这条道上一路潜行了。”
This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with the amazing Dr Dong Jing, associate professor at the Center for Research on Intelligent Perception and Computing (CRIPAC) of the Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Dr Dong's cutting-edge research work at the CRIPAC focuses on pattern recognition, image processing and computer vision used in biometrics and information content security theory and applications, particularly in digital content forensics. Practitioners usually conduct credibility certification, integrity restoration and traceability investigations on digital content in computer crime cases. With the rapid advancement of 5G and digital media, this discipline has been gaining widespread attention from the public.
She has also published more than 40 academic papers in international journals and academic conferences and applied for about 20 invention patents and software copyright. She has chaired or participated in more than 30 national and provincial scientific projects, such as the key R & D plan and the National Natural Science Foundation. Honored for her scientific achievements and contributions, Dr Dong is awarded for "The Best Scientific Paper Award" of the 2018 International Conference on Pattern Recognition, "The Excellent Contribution Volunteer Award" of the Chinese Society of Artificial Intelligence, "The Faculty Award' of IBM Research on the year of 2016 and elected as a senior member of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on the year of 2014. She is the IEEE Region Asia&Pacific (R10) Excom member, IEEE R10 Women in Engineering Committee Chair (2017-2018), IEEE R10 Humanitarian Technology Activities Committee Chair, IEEE WIE Beijing Affinity Group Vice Chair.
Dr Dong told Ladies Who Tech: "I have to thank my adviser, friend, and the director of CRIPAC, Prof Tieniu Tan, for developing and nurturing my interest in my area of research. During my doctoral studies at the Institute of Automation, Prof Tan directed and advised my dissertation on digital image forensics and I became fascinated by AI-related topics such as computer vision and machine learning through completing literature review and related research work. After my graduation, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity at the Centre to carry on my research in this field.”
Computer vision deals with how computers can gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos and its scientific discipline seeks to understand the theory behind artificial systems that extract information from images. Currently, the research area of CRIPAC mainly focuses on information sensing, intelligent recognition, content security, system integration and its applications.
Dr Dong's work at the Centre is particularly important as the world enters the era of "deep fakes", when AI capabilities will allow false data and content producers to program and manipulate a speaker's appearance, facial expressions, blinking patterns and speech inflections smoothly enough to fool most viewers. At the same time, this is made possible as the technical threshold for intelligent counterfeiting continues to decrease.
"We've always followed the motto, 'seeing is believing'. However, fake news, misinformation and content taken out of context are swirling into the public discourse on an unprecedented scale. This means the authenticity, integrity and originality of digital content have become vital factors to determine the credibility of a certain piece of information. This is why we need digital forensics," Dr Dong explained.
妇女在STEM领域的“蒸发” The "Evaporation" of women out of STEM
As a mother of two young boys – aged eight and two – Dr Dong has gone against the odds and forged a path to be at the forefront of scientific research and the advancement of female scientists, working tirelessly for breakthroughs that can make the world a better place for future generations.
However, it has not always been easy in such a male-dominated field. In her team of nearly 20 researchers, Dr Dong is the only woman. Even its entire scientific research department, accounting for the majority of female employees in charge of comprehensive management of scientific research affairs, the proportion of women in the team is less than 15 per cent. On the homepage of the CRIPAC website, Dr Dong’s photo stands out from the rest of her male faculty members.
Only 5 per cent of academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering were women in 2017, according to Global Times. Among the recipients of the "Yangtze River Scholar" title, one of China's highest academic honors given to scholars from across the world, only less than 4 per cent are women.
The "leaky pipeline" metaphor refers to the drastic loss of female workers in a variety of disciplines, most prevalently in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These "leaks" have been identified at various career stages, including the bachelor's-to-PhD pipeline, and at the academic employment stages of selection, promotion and retention, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.
Women bring vital life experiences and unique perspectives to research questions, methodology and interpretation of data, and research conclusions and its resulting technology affect all genders of the human race. The exodus of women out of the STEM pipeline has dire impacts on scientific advancement as a whole — especially in today's increasingly globalized and technology-driven society. According to UNESCO, just 30 per cent of the world's researchers are women.
"In the workplace, the real proportion of female scientists with senior professional titles may be even lower than 30 per cent," Dr Dong pointed out.
At world-class seminars, women continue to be under-represented. At the 2019 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, the three general chairs and four programme chairs were all men, while only 22 of all the 132 area chairs were women, according to South China Morning Post. Similarly, at the NeurIPS 2019, a machine learning conference, 85 authors contributed at least 10 submissions, but only six of whom were women.
修补这“泄漏的管道” Fixing the "Leaky Pipeline”
“虽然职业发展确实有压力，但我挺过来了。我个人性格中韧性的成分比较足，欢迎挑战，也愿意做多种尝试。现在，我能够在我的研究工作和看着我的孩子成长之间取得平衡，” 她说，“研究所内外都有很多位优秀的女科学家，事业生活平衡得很好，她们都是我的榜样，看到她们就能够产生坚持下去的力量。” 她还特别提到：“研究所早些年就都为女性员工提供了母婴室，就算在孕期和哺乳期通勤工作也不觉得辛苦，生育补助也很充足。“
The reasons for the attrition of women in science are multifaceted, but as the formidable astrophysicist and former Chair of the Yale Physics Department Meg Urry said, it all comes down to "slow drumbeat of being underappreciated, feeling uncomfortable and encountering roadblocks along the path to success.”
The field as a whole suffers from a lack of female mentorship, leadership, positive reinforcement and understanding of how to best recruit and retain women, leading to girls falling victim to self-doubt and inaccurate assessments of their talents at an early age.
In China, pressures to be conventionally feminine seem even more intense, because everyone expects a strong woman to not only have a successful career, but also a good mother and wife to a happy family, Dr Dong pointed out.
"The social attributes and expectations of women play a very important factor in this status quo," she said. "Traditionally, women are expected to take the lead in family responsibilities. At the same time, the emphasis on women's 'duties' in pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing also makes them more suppressed in their career development. This could lead to men in leadership roles to be less inclined to recruit and promote female employees.”
While Dr Dong didn't recall any explicit anecdotes of gender bias throughout her career, she is still very aware of the fact that she's the only woman on her research team and would feel pressured at times.
"There is inevitably a certain extent of gender bias when developing and expanding team members if the head of the research team is always a man," she said.
She also made a point to thank her colleagues and the institution for their support during her pregnancy. In fact, being an academic provides a female scientist with more flexibility than most other professions.
"Although it did put a strain on my career development, I got through it. I'm a rather adaptive person and I welcome challenges. Right now, I am able to strike a balance between my research work and watching my children grow. There are many excellent female scientists both inside and outside the institute who are doing it all – and these women are my role models," she said, adding that her research centre did provide nursing rooms for (the few of) the female employees early on, as well as childbirth subsidies.
Unfortunately, not all female scientists are that lucky. A 2015 report by The Atlantic found that sexual harassment at US universities persists, with one in three women science professors surveyed reported being a target of sexual harassment.
Expectant undergraduates and graduate students have also been a victim of pregnancy harassment, receiving threats of pulling funding, constant pressure to withdraw from their programs or return to work and meet deadlines mere weeks after birth.
Workers in China's R&D sector swelled from 3.2 million in 2009 to 5.8 million in 2016 as the country rapidly expands its technological capabilities, highlighting a demand for more female scientists, according to science journal Nature. Currently, women make up only about one-quarter of this workforce.
To make sure we have the largest talent pool for the next scientific breakthrough, a substantial reform in policy and perception is in order. And the key to reform, Urray said, is persuading educators, researchers and administrators that broadening the pool of female scientists and making the culture more livable for them doesn't lower standards.
That's just the fundamental part – the second step is to advance and retain these female scientists, especially when they face pivotal decisions such as pregnancy and childcare during their careers. Academia needs to move away from the pressure to publish and allow female researchers publications gaps without punishment. Paid parental leave should also be a norm.
"Policies and resources to back working mothers are as essential as those that support expectant mothers," Dr Dong said. "They have strong needs and require institutional support in terms of managing their time efficiently, adapting to changes in their role, as well as physical and mental well-being.”
The National Natural Science Foundation of China extended age limits for female grant applicants in 2011 from 35 to 40, while that for men remained at 35, leading to a boost of number awarded to female researchers. Other institutions have been establishing professional and scientific research project training programs for female scientists.
"Efforts have been made, but more must be done to support female scientists in China," Dr Dong said.
It's true that these systemic changes take time. One recent study even found that closing the gender gap in physics will take hundreds of years, given the current rate of progress. But that's all the more reason to accelerate the pace and widen the scale of our efforts in increasing the participation of women in science. If we want the talent that drives the competitiveness of nations, we need to act now.
Ladies Who Tech相信教育是赋权女性的引擎，也是女性未来独立的基础。我们希望，通过研讨会、年度大会与各种活动将妇女纳入STEM话题中，企业与组织将受到鼓舞进而制定更多包括妇女与母亲在内的变革政策。让我们在这个充满着爱的日子里，以及生活中的每一天，向了不起的母亲们表示敬意，为她们的力量、勇气和耐心喝彩！
At Ladies Who Tech, we believe education is an engine to women's empowerment and the foundation for a future of independence. We hope that through connecting women in STEM through workshops, conventions and events, companies and organizations will leave inspired to enact changes that are more inclusive of women and mothers. Once again, a big salute to our incredible mothers for their strength, courage and patience in this special month, and every day!