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WiMIR Mentoring Program Report 2018: On the “only meeting that should last longer”

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Poster design: Julia Wilkins

Blog post by Anja Volk (Utrecht University), Co-Founder of the WiMIR Mentoring Program

“This is the only hour-long meeting on my calendar that I secretly wish would last longer.” Let’s take this quote from a mentor’s anonymous feedback on his/her experience with the WiMIR mentoring program as the opening fanfare to our report on the outcomes of the 2018 mentoring round as reflected by the participants. I can hardly think of any bigger compliment to this program from the perspective of a busy mentor. Before looking into what other mentors and mentees told us in their anonymous feedback about their experience with the program, allow me some remarks on reports in the field of Music Information Retrieval.

We love big numbers in Music Information Retrieval – we are fans of analyzing millions of musical pieces and reporting statistics. Accordingly, our report on the WiMIR mentoring round in 2018 might deal with a lot of numbers, such as the fact that the number of participants has doubled again as in previous years, with 80 mentor-mentee pairs enrolling this time, while participants came from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Oceania. Or we might count how the list of academic institutions participating has only grown since the first round in 2016, with about 70 institutions participating in 2018,  and that we have meanwhile mentors from most of the leading music technology companies and even AI and music startups, adding up to about 40 companies. You can check that out here.

However, let’s take in this report the musicologist’s approach of giving great care to details, analyzing one piece after the other (and not necessarily millions at once) and let’s listen to one piece at a time, or better to one story at a time on how the mentees felt empowered, gained career perspectives, came to appreciate the MIR community and felt encouraged and included through the mentoring sessions. These individual stories might give a more detailed picture on what has been gained than plain numbers.

For a description of the general format of the WiMIR mentoring program, with 4 remote meetings between mentor and mentee, you can check out last year’s report here

Exposition first theme

Outcomes from mentoring sessions on career perspectives as reported by mentees

The following anonymous quotes provide an overview of how mentees were able to gain clarities and perspectives on their career options in MIR.

Not only has the WiMIR mentoring programme opened up opportunities for me to study it and work abroad, experiencing other universities, it has built my confidence with networking with more senior academics.

I already told this to anyone I met working in wide ranged related fields. This is the best way to find your path to learn or make career goals.

With his guidance, I found my path through my best interests in both academic and industrial ways.

I have more clarity on my career path.

Discussing with a successful woman in this field was very interesting so that I could ask specific questions about my work/life path that would help me making decisions for my future career.

It deepened my understanding on research from the perspective of a big picture.

The program provides an important channel for research and career information exchange, which means a lot for early-stage researchers.

Sign up for the WiMIR mentoring programme because TRUST ME you will NOT regret it. It’s the best thing I have done for my future within my PhD.

Exposition second theme

Specific outcomes from mentoring sessions on career perspectives as reported by mentees

Quite a range of different projects have emerged from the mentoring sessions this year, from landing a job to programming skills, writing CVs, papers or research proposals, or getting an internship. Here are some examples.

I got a new job in the industry that relates to music! My mentor helped with all of the positive support and encouragement!

So, thanks to my mentor, I applied to the WiMIR Grant Application at the ISMIR Conference 2018.

I was able to land a job that combines music and computer science and I’m really excited to be making a difference in the music world from a variety of areas!

I received valuable feedback on my job materials such as my CV and a cover letter.

I learnt handy programming tricks.

I wrote and submitted a fellowship application (which got through to the final shortlist for the award).

I’ve learnt how to define and narrow a research problem and how to solve it step by step.

We could come up with a collaborative work on which we are currently working.

I presented a paper that I was working on for feedback to students/ faculty at University X.

I finally created a personal website.

Received help with a conference proposal and acceptance for conference.

Time saving! Great to have someone to help make yes/no decisions about whether opportunities are worth chasing or not.

Received help shaping my dissertation topic.

Started collaborating for a new paper.

Development

Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement

An underlying topic that recurs over the editions of the mentoring program since 2016 is that of encouragement for mentees. Why is that so important? The psychiatrist Anna Fels has shown that ambition is built on two components: 1) mastering a skill, and 2) being recognized for it. Fels has demonstrated that being recognized by others for their skills happens to a much smaller extent for girls and women than for boys and men: “The personal and societal recognition they receive for their accomplishments is quantitatively poorer, qualitatively more ambivalent, and, perhaps most discouraging, less predictable.” Unfortunately, this starts already early for girls at schools: “Despite the fact that girls’ and women’s achievements, particularly in the academic sphere, frequently outstrip those of their male peers, they routinely underestimate their abilities. Boys and men, by contrast, have repeatedly been shown to have an inflated estimation of their capabilities. Paradoxically, these inaccurate self-ratings by both women and men seem to be accurate reflections of the praise and recognition they receive for their efforts. The impact of these findings on the selection and pursuit of an ambition is obvious: If you don’t think the chances are great that you will reach a career goal, you won’t attempt to reach it—even if the rewards are highly desirable.” (quotes from Anna Fels’ Harvard Business Review “Do Women Lack Ambition?”) More and more empirical studies reveal the different contexts in which women receive less recognition for the same skills as their male peers, such as the study by Moss-Racusin et al. (2012) which has shown that both male and female faculty rated male applicants as significantly more competent than women with identical application materials, and a study by Reuben et al. (2014) showing that both men and women were twice as likely to hire a man for a job that required math than a woman for that same job, even though the women performed equally well in an arithmetic test. Seeing, recognizing and rewarding the skills and talents of women seems to be an important ingredient to learn for all of us.

The WiMIR mentors pay an invaluable contribution toward encouraging mentees to follow their ambitions by doing exactly this: Seeing and recognizing their talents, showing possible career paths,  giving positive feedback on the mentees’ talents, and coming up with concrete steps such as those we have listed above in the exposition. At the same time, mentoring is a great way to discover female talent, and hence a big gain for the MIR community in getting to know these talented women and keep them hopefully involved in the field. Here are some mentees’ reflections on the encouragement this produces:

I have had one of the well-known, experienced MIR researchers all for myself – to talk about myself and help me set goals and develop a vision – what a luxury! I have emerged after my PhD without any understanding what I should do and where the field is going. I felt frustrated and disorientated and the positive, supportive attitude of my mentor was reassuring. Since then I have been on a journey of self-discovery and motivation and I am sure my mentor would be able to help me on several stages of this journey.

… helpful to talk to someone who has followed a career path that is similar to the one I plan to follow, and about which I had many doubts and fears.

I gained a mentor who has empowered me immensely.

I believe that the most important gain from the program was more confidence to work with MIR.

Now I could imagine myself researching interesting and relevant topics and going further in the academic carrier.

I became more optimistic as a Ph.D. student and have new insights to look at my research. The encouragements from my mentor mean a lot to me.

It encouraged me to try to stay in our field.

I felt empowered to ask questions openly and honestly, and felt like my mentor wanted to participate in our conversations just as much as I did. I felt valued and heard during our meetings.

It has opened so many doors for me, and built my confidence in networking in a competitive community.

The WiMIR mentoring has empowered myself.

Women in STEM are often unsure if it is okay to simultaneously feel assertive and vulnerable.  I was given the opportunity to ask questions and provide my own thoughts about STEM, MIR and other topics in a way that felt heard, respected and valued.  I got to practice asking questions in an open and trusting manner, which ultimately led me to understand that honesty, transparency and assertiveness (even in asserting that you are very confused and unsure about something) actually provide a platform for empowerment, respect and growth.

The programme shows you that you are not alone in MIR and STEM. Women are a minority, and this programme brings us together, it inspires and develops us as individuals and as a whole group. I feel that the programme brings confidence to new and aspiring researchers in the field, showing how we can get to the places we wish to reach.

Recapitulation first theme

Beyond the individual – effects of the program on the MIR community

One-on-one meetings in the mentoring program produce ripples beyond the individuals; they contribute to how the MIR community is perceived as a whole, as the following examples show:

I realized that the MIR community is wide, respectful and open to new members, even if they come from related but slightly different research domains.

If I had not applied for the WiMIR Mentoring Program, I probably wouldn’t know the amazing things that could be made from Music. This is the first place that I recommend to start learning and networking in the Music and Technology field.

MIR is a new field for me, but because WiMIR is here, I didn’t have to be scared to be a minority in a STEM field and MIR.

This is an important project to encourage new researchers to be in contact with important professionals and to develop new ideas. For women it is an opportunity to be visible and make more relevant works. I am very grateful for the excellent work of you organizers and I hope to meet you all at ISMIR 2018! =)

I’m really grateful to be attached to the community in this way even though I cannot yet make it to meetings in person. Thank you!

Because it was so easy to discuss things with my mentor, I found it easier to ask a question to other senior members of the MIR community.

Women have so many great ideas, and they bring different methods, perspectives and communication strategies to the table.  The more the women understand they are welcome and needed in MIR, the more they will stick around and be willing to dig deep.

If you don’t want to get lost in many keywords, this program will make you find your learning/career path.

Got to learn a lot from my mentor who is already established in this field. I also got referred to other people and got their feedback and guidance too.

Recapitulation second theme

The gain for mentors

The mentoring program is not only a gain for mentees; perhaps equally important are the gains for mentors. Here are some examples.

It’s really nice to interact with someone who is earlier in her career, and still has very many options to choose from and is also excited about them all. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day and forget why I’m doing what I do.

It made me be self-reflective in good ways.

Learning more about academic career paths in different cultures.

I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about recruiters, and the wide variety and competition of the job market.

The issues that women face are fundamentally different, even when they involve exactly the same scenario, just because of the way women are perceived in the workplace. I find that sometimes the approaches I might take as a man simply wouldn’t work for a woman, and it reveals that there is some underlying imbalance there.

It definitely makes me more aware of the gender imbalances and helps me refocus on efforts working with female students at my own institution.

The program helps me in reflecting my one role as an academic advisor.

I realised that all the prejudices that I need to deal with as a musicologist working with engineers are very similar to those an engineer had to face when working with musicologists.

Learned more on research cultures in other labs.

It was great to exchange ideas, links to reading material and perspectives. Hearing how people work in other companies and in academia was very interesting. Both my experience as a mentor and being involved in peer-mentoring were extremely eye opening.

… also learnt a lot about the challenges of raising a family and balancing that with work aspirations.

… learnt more about US universities, her industry experiences.

… a different perspective; insight into a different MIR subfield.

… a window into a different university system (in the USA).

I learned how to share industry experience with grads students.

… learning how to approach people who communicate differently.

I learned more about the obstacles of especially young females. We talked a lot about the many inappropriate statements by male colleagues and other people outside the work context.

It’s unfortunately common for women to encounter hostility and bias. Being a mentor can help balance the experience by demonstrating that not everyone has a negative attitude.

Intermezzo

Future directions

Participants in the mentoring program came up with suggestions for further directions of the WiMIR initiative in their feedback forms, such as asking everyone to take the Harvard implicit associations test, asking industry sponsors to highlight their career paths for future female employees, having women-focused industry job fairs or network development, creating  videos about WiMIR, such as testimonial videos about the WiMIR Mentoring program and upload them on YouTube so many women can watch and learn about it and having more local meetups of mentees and mentors. We will discuss these ideas during the WiMIR session at ISMIR 2018 – and will need help realizing them!

Coda with closing fanfare

Fun for everybody involved in the program receiving praise in the feedback forms. Thanks everybody!

Running the mentoring program requires the dedication and time of the mentoring program committee, the mentors and the mentees. For most people, this is time spent on top of many other agenda points in a busy week. We hope the following quotes show to everybody how impactfully and meaningfully this time was spent, which brings us full circle to the opening fanfare of this report on the one hour-meeting that should have lasted longer.  

That was excellent. I will never forget this experience.

It was an excellent experience.

WiMIR Mentoring Program is So Awesome!

Awesome program!!

Just to say that I really enjoyed it, and I think it’s a fantastic initiative.

It was a good experience!

This is a great initiative, keep up the good work.

Love it. Thanks for making a cool program!

I would really like to thank WiMIR organizers for all the great work resulting in significant change in the field.

This mentorship program is one of the most effective ways to diversify the field of MIR, I hope this goes on for many years to come!

Thanks to the WiMIR team for the great concept and organizing this very impactful initiative.


Anja Volk (Utrecht University), holds master degrees in both mathematics and musicology, and a PhD in the field of computational musicology. The results of her research have substantially contributed to areas such as music information retrieval, computational musicology,  music cognition, and mathematical music theory.  In 2016 she launched together with Amélie Anglade, Emilia Gómez and Blair Kaneshiro the Women in MIR (WIMIR) Mentoring Program.  She co-organized the launch of the Transactions of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, the open access journal of the ISMIR society, and is serving as Editor-in-Chief for the journal’s first term. Anja received the Westerdijk Award 2018 from Utrecht University in recognition of her efforts on increasing diversity.

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Anja Volk awarded this year’s Westerdijk Award

Blog post written by Vincent Koops. 
Dr. Anja Volk, one of WiMIR leading scholars, is awarded this year’s Westerdijk Award at the Utrecht University in recognition of her efforts to create a more diverse organization. Besides her efforts in building the WiMIR network, she established the Women in Information and Computing Science network. This network is very active in organizing events that stimulate more diversity and inclusion within the department and in applying for funding to finance these events. Anja is furthermore a major contributor to develop concrete recommendations for more diverse leadership within her department. Anja is deeply appreciated because of her passionate efforts to improve diversity and inclusion within and beyond Utrecht University!
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You can read the complete news here: https://www.uu.nl/en/news/anja-volk-wins-westerdijk-award
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WiMIR Workshop 2018 Project Guides

This is a list of project guides and their areas of interest for the 2018 WiMIR workshop.  These folks will be leading the prototyping and early research investigations at the workshop.  You can read about them and their work in detail below, and sign up to attend the WiMIR workshop here.

 

RachelBittner

Rachel Bittner:  MIR with Stems

The majority of digital audio exists as mono or stereo mixtures, and because of this MIR research has largely focused on estimating musical information (beats, chords, melody, etc.) from these polyphonic mixtures. However, stems (the individual components of a mixture) are becoming an increasingly common audio format. This project focuses on how MIR techniques could be adapted if stems were available for all music. Which MIR problems suddenly become more important? What information – that was previously difficult to estimate from mixtures – is now simple to estimate? What new questions can we ask about music that we couldn’t before? As part the project, we will try to answer some of these questions and create demos that demonstrate our hypotheses.

Rachel is a Research Scientist at Spotify in New York City, and recently completed her Ph.D. at the Music and Audio Research Lab at New York University under Dr. Juan P. Bello. Previously, she was a research assistant at NASA Ames Research Center working with Durand Begault in the Advanced Controls and Displays Laboratory. She did her master’s degree in math at NYU’s Courant Institute, and her bachelor’s degree in music performance and math at UC 2 Irvine. Her research interests are at the intersection of audio signal processing and machine learning, applied to musical audio. Her dissertation work applied machine learning to various types of fundamental frequency estimation.


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Tom Butcher: Expanding the Human Impact of MIR with Mixed Reality

Mixed reality has the potential to transform our relationship with music. In this workshop, we will survey the new capabilities mixed reality affords as a new computing paradigm and explore how these new affordances can open the world of musical creation, curation, and enjoyment to new vistas. We will begin by discussing what mixed reality means, from sensors and hardware to engines and platforms for mixed reality experiences. From there, we will discuss how mixed reality can be applied to MIR- related fields of study and applications, considering some of the unique challenges and new research questions posed by the technology. Finally, we will discuss human factors and how mixed reality coupled with MIR can lead to greater understanding, empathy, expression, enjoyment, and fulfillment.

Tom Butcher leads a team of engineers applied scientists in Microsoft’s Cloud & AI division focusing on audio sensing, machine listening, avatars, and applications of AI. In the technology realm, Tom is an award-winning creator of audio and music services, which include recommendation engines, continuous playlist systems, assisted composition agents, and other tools for creativity and productivity. Motivated by a deep enthusiasm for synthesizers and electronic sounds from an early age, Tom has released many pieces of original music as Orqid and Codebase and continues to record and perform. In 2015, Tom co- founded a Seattle-based business focusing on community, education, and retail for synthesizers and electronic music instruments called Patchwerks.


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Elaine Chew: MIR Rhythm Analysis Techniques for Arrhythmia ECG Sequences

Cardiac arrhythmia has been credited as the source of the dotted rhythm at the beginning of Beethoven’s “Adieux” Sonata (Op.81a) (Goldberger, Whiting, Howell 2014); the authors have also ascribed Beethoven’s “Cavatina” (Op.130) and another piano sonata (Op.110) to his possible arrhythmia. It is arguably problematic and controversial to diagnose arrhythmia in a long-dead composer through his music. Without making any hypothesis on composers’ cardiac conditions, Chew (2018) linked the rhythms of trigeminy (a ventricular arrhythmia) to the Viennese Waltz and scored atrial fibrillation rhythms to mixed meters, Bach’s Siciliano, and the tango; she also made collaborative compositions (Chew et al. 2017-8) from longer ventricular tachycardia sequences. Given the established links between heart and musical rhythms, in this workshop, we shall take the pragmatic and prosaic approach of applying a wide variety of MIR rhythm analysis techniques to ECG recordings of cardiac arrhythmias, exploring the limits of what is currently possible.

Chew, E. (2018). Notating Disfluencies and Temporal Deviations in Music and Arrhythmia. Music and Science.
Chew, E., A. Krishna, D. Soberanes, M. Ybarra, M. Orini, P. Lambiase (2017-8). Arrhythmia Suite—http://bit.ly/heart-music-recordings
Goldberger, Z. D., S. M. Whiting, J. D. Howell (2014). The Heartfelt Music of Ludwig van Beethoven. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 57(2): 285-294.

Elaine Chew is Professor of Digital Media at Queen Mary University of London, where she is affiliated with the Centre for Digital Music in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. She was awarded a 2018 ERC ADG for the project COSMOS: Computational Shaping and Modeling of Musical Structures, and is recipient of a 2005 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering / NSF CAREER Award, and 2007/2017 Fellowships at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Her research, which centers on computational analysis of music structures in performed music, performed speech, and cardiac arrhythmias, has been supported by the ERC, EPSRC, AHRC, and NSF, and featured on BBC World Service/Radio 3, Smithsonian Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wired Blog, MIT Technology Review, etc. She has authored numerous articles and a Springer monograph (Mathematical and Computational Modeling of Tonality: Theory and Applications), and served on the ISMIR steering committee.


 

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Johanna Devaney:  Cover Songs for Musical Performance Comparison and Musical Style Transfer

Cover versions of a song typically retain basic musical the material of the song being covered but may vary a great deal in their fidelity to other aspects of the original recording. While some covers only differ in minor ways, such as timing and dynamics, while others may use completely different instrumentation, performance techniques, or genre. This workshop will explore the potential of cover songs for studying musical performance and for performing musical style transfer. In contrast to making comparisons between different performances of different songs, cover songs provide a unique opportunity to evaluate differences in musical performance, both within and across genres. For musical style transfer, the stability of the musical material serves as an invariant representation, which allows for paired examples for training machine learning algorithms. The workshop will consider issues in dataset creation as well as metrics for evaluating performance similarity and style transfer.

Johanna is an Assistant Professor of Music Technology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and the speciality chief editor for the Digital Musicology section of Frontiers in Digital Humanities. Previously she taught in the Music Technology program at NYU Steinhardt and the Music Theory and Cognition program at Ohio State University. Johanna completed her post-doc at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at the University of California at Berkeley and her PhD in music technology at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. She also holds an MPhil degree in music theory from Columbia University, as well as an MA in composition from York University in Toronto. Johanna’s research seeks to understand how humans engage with music, primarily through performance, with a particular focus on intonation in the singing voice, and how computers can be used to model and augment our understanding of this engagement.


 

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Doug Eck: Building Collaborations Among Artists, Coders and Machine Learning

We propose to talk about challenges and future directions for building collaborations among artists, coders and machine learning researchers. The starting point is g.co/magenta. We’ve learned a lot about what works and (more importantly) what doesn’t work in building bridges across these areas. We’ll explore community building, UX/HCI issues, research directions, open source advocacy and the more general question of deciding what to focus on in such an open-ended, ill-defined domain. We hope that the session is useful even for people who don’t know of or don’t care about Magenta. In other words, we’ll use Magenta as a starting point for exploring these issues, but we don’t need to focus solely on that project.

Douglas Eck is a Principal Research Scientist at Google working in the areas of music, art and machine learning. Currently he is leading the Magenta Project, a Google Brain effort to generate music, video, images and text using deep learning and reinforcement learning. One of the primary goals of Magenta is to better understand how machine learning algorithms can learn to produce more compelling media based on feedback from artists, musicians and consumers. Before focusing on generative models for media, Doug worked in areas such as rhythm and meter perception, aspects of music performance, machine learning for large audio datasets and music recommendation for Google Play Music. He completed his PhD in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Indiana University in 2000 and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship with Juergen Schmidhuber at IDSIA in Lugano Switzerland. Before joining Google in 2010, Doug worked in Computer Science at the University of Montreal (MILA machine learning lab) where he became Associate Professor.


 

RyanGroves

Ryan Groves:  Discovering Emotion from Musical Segments

In this project, we’ll first survey the existing literature for research on detecting emotions from musical audio, and find relevant software tools and datasets to assist in the process. Then, we’ll try to formalize our own expertise in how musical emotion might be perceived, elicited and automatically evaluated from musical audio. The goal of the project will be to create a software service or tool that can take a musical audio segment that is shorter than a whole song, and detect the emotion from it.

Ryan Groves is an award-winning music researcher and veteran developer of intelligent music systems. He did a Masters’ in Music Technology at McGill University under Ichiro Fujinaga, has published in conference proceedings including Mathematics and Computation in Music, Musical Metacreation (ICCC & AIIDE), and ISMIR. In 2016, he won the Best Paper award at ISMIR for his paper on “Automatic melodic reduction using a supervised probabilistic context-free grammar”.  He is currently the President and Chief Product Officer at Melodrive – an adaptive music generation system. Using cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques, Melodrive allows any developer to automatically create and integrate a musical soundtrack into their game, virtual world or augmented reality system.  With a strong technical background, extensive industry experience in R&D, and solid research footing in academia, Ryan is focused on delivering innovative and robust musical products.


 

 

Christine Ho, Oriol Nieto, & Kristi Schneck:  Large-scale Karaoke Song Detection

We propose to investigate the problem of automatically identifying Karaoke tracks in a large music catalog. Karaoke songs are typically instrumental renditions of popular tracks, often including backing vocals in the mix, such that a live performer can sing on top of them. The automatic identification of such tracks would not only benefit the curation of large collections, but also its navigation and exploration. We challenge the participants to think about the type of classifiers we could use in this problem, what features would be ideal, and what dataset would be beneficial to the community to potentially propose this as a novel MIREX (MIR Evaluation eXchange) task in the near future.

Oriol Nieto is a Senior Scientist at Pandora. Prior to that, he defended his Ph.D Dissertation in the Music and Audio Research Lab at NYU focusing on the automatic analysis of structure in music. He holds an M.A. in Music, Science and Technology from the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, an M.S. in Information Theories from the Music Technology Group at Pompeu Fabra University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. His research focuses on music information retrieval, large scale recommendation systems, and machine learning with especial emphasis on deep architectures. Oriol plays guitar, violin, and sings (and screams) in his spare time.

Kristi Schneck is a Senior Scientist at Pandora, where she is leading several science initiatives on Pandora’s next-generation podcast recommendation system. She has driven the science work for a variety of applications, including concert recommendations and content management systems. Kristi holds a PhD in physics from Stanford University and dual bachelors degrees in physics and music from MIT.

Christine Ho is a scientist on Pandora’s content science team, where she works on detecting music spam and helps teams with designing their AB experiments. Before joining Pandora, she completed her PhD in Statistics at University of California, Berkeley and interned at Veracyte, a company focused on applying machine learning to genomic data to improve outcomes for patients with hard-to-diagnose diseases.


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Xiao Hu: MIR for Mood Modulation: A Multidisciplinary Research Agenda

Mood modulation is a main reason behind people’s engagement with music, whereas how people use music to modulate mood and how MIR techniques and systems can facilitate this process continue fascinating researchers in various related fields. In this workshop group, we will discuss how MIR researchers with diverse backgrounds and interests can participate in this broad direction of research. Engaging activities are designed to enable hands-on practice on multiple research methods and study design (both qualitative and quantitative/computational). Through feedback from peers and the project guide, participants are expected to start developing a focused research agenda with theoretical, methodological and practical significance, based on their own strengths and interests. Participants from different disciplines and levels are all welcomed. Depending on the background and interests of the participants, a small new dataset is prepared for fast prototyping on how MIR techniques and tools can help enhancing this multidisciplinary research agenda.

Dr. Xiao Hu has been studying music mood recognition and MIR evaluation since 2006. Her research on affective interactions between music and users has been funded by the National Science Foundation of China and Research Grant Council (RGC) of the Hong Kong S. A. R. Dr. Hu was a tutorial speaker in ISMIR conferences in 2012 and 2016. Her papers have won several awards in international conferences and have been cited extensively. She has served as a conference co-chair (2014), a program co-chair (2017 and 2018) for ISMIR, and an editorial board member of TISMIR. She was in the Board of Directors of ISMIR from 2012 to 2017. Dr. Hu has a multidisciplinary background, holding a PhD degree in Library and Information Science, Multi-disciplinary Certificate in Language and Speech Processing, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science, a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Information Systems.


Anja Volk, Iris Yuping Ren, & Hendrik Vincent Koops:  Modeling Repetition and Variation for MIR

Repetition and variation are fundamental principles in music. Accordingly, many MIR tasks are based on automatically detecting repeating units in music, such as repeating time intervals that establish the beat, repeating segments in pop songs that establish the chorus, or repeating patterns that constitute the most characteristic part of a composition. In many cases, repetitions are not literal, but subject to slight variations, which introduces the challenge as to what types of variation of a musical unit can be reasonably considered as a re-occurrence of this unit. In this project we look into the computational modelling of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic units, and the challenge of evaluating state-of-the-art computational models by comparing the output to human annotations. Specifically, we investigate for the MIR tasks of 1) automatic chord extraction from audio, and 2) repeated pattern discovery from symbolic data, how to gain high-quality human annotations which account for different plausible interpretations of complex musical units. In this workshop we discuss different strategies of instructing annotators and undertake case studies on annotating patterns and chords on small data sets. We compare different annotations, jointly reflect on the rationales regarding these annotations, develop novel ideas on how to setup annotation tasks and discuss the implications for the computational modelling of these musical units for MIR.

Anja Volk holds masters degrees in both Mathematics and Musicology, and a PhD from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. Her area of specialization is the development and application of computational and mathematical models for music research. The results of her research have substantially contributed to areas such as music information retrieval, computational musicology, digital cultural heritage, music cognition, and mathematical music theory. In 2003 she has been awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship Award at the University of Southern California, in 2006 she joined Utrecht University as a Postdoc in the area of Music Information Retrieval. In 2010 she has been awarded a highly prestigious NWO-VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, which allowed her to start her own research group. In 2016 she co-launched the international Women in MIR mentoring program, in 2017 she co-organized the launch of the Transactions of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, and is serving as Editor-in-Chief for the journal’s first term.


Cynthia C. S. Liem & Andrew Demetriou:  Beyond the Fun: Can Music We Do Not Actively Like Still Have Personal Significance?

In today’s digital information society,music is typically perceived and framed as ‘mere entertainment’. However, historically, the significance of music to human practitioners and listeners has been much broader and more profound. Music has been used to emphasize social status, to express praise or protest, to accompany shared social experiences and activities, and to moderate activity, mood and self-established identity as a ‘technology of the self’. Yet today, our present-day music services (and their underlying Music Information Retrieval (MIR) technology) do not focus explicitly on fostering these broader effects: they may be hidden in existing user interaction data, but this data usually lacks sufficient context to tell for sure.  As a controversial thought, music that is appropriate for the scenarios above may not necessarily need to be our favorite music, yet still be of considerable personal value and significance to us. How can and should we deal with this in the context of MIR and recommendation? May MIR systems then become the tools that can surface such items, and thus create better user experiences that users could not have imagined themselves? What ethical and methodological considerations should we take into account when pursuing this? And, for technologists in need of quantifiable and measurable criteria of success, how should the impact of suggested items on users be measured in these types of scenarios?   In this workshop, we will focus on discussing these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective, and jointly designing corresponding initial MIR experimental setups.

Cynthia Liem graduated in Computer Science at Delft University of Technology, and in Classical Piano Performance at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Now an Assistant Professor at the Multimedia Computing Group of Delft University of Technology, her research focuses on music and multimedia search and recommendation, with special interest in fostering the discovery of content which is not trivially on users’ radars. She gained industrial experience at Bell Labs Netherlands, Philips Research and Google, was a recipient of multiple scholarships and awards (e.g. Lucent Global Science & Google Anita Borg Europe Memorial scholarships, Google European Doctoral Fellowship, NWO Veni) and is a 2018 Researcher-in-Residence at the National Library of The Netherlands. Always interested in discussion across disciplines, she also is co-editor of the Multidisciplinary Column of the ACM SIGMM Records. As a musician, she still has an active performing career, particularly with the (inter)nationally award-winning Magma Duo.

Andrew Demetriou is currently a PhD candidate in the Multimedia Computing Group at the Technical University at Delft. His academic interests lie in the intersection of the psychological and biological sciences, and the relevant data sciences, and furthering our understanding of 1) love, relationships, and social bonding, and 2) optimal, ego-dissolutive, and meditative mental states, 3) by studying people performing, rehearsing, and listening to music. His prior experience includes: assessing the relationship between initial romantic attraction and hormonal assays (saliva and hair) during speed-dating events, validating new classes of experimental criminology VR paradigms using electrocardiography data collected both in a lab and in a wild setting (Lowlands music festival), and syntheses of musical psychology literature which were presented at ISMIR 2016 and 2017.


 

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Matt McVicar: Creative applications of MIR Data

In this workshop, you’ll explore the possibility of building creative tools using MIR data. You’ll discuss the abundance of prevailing data for creative applications, which in the context of this workshop simply means “a human making something musical”. You, as a team, may come up with new product or research ideas based on your own backgrounds, or you may develop an existing idea from existing products or research papers. You may find that the data for your application exists already, so that you can spend the time in the workshop fleshing out the details of how your application will work. Else, you may discover that the data for your task does not exist, in which case you, as a team, could start gathering or planning the gathering of these data.

Matt is Head of Research at Jukedeck. He began his PhD at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Tijl De Bie and finished it whilst on a Fulbright Scholarship at Columbia University in the city of New York with Dan Ellis. He then went on to work under Masataka Goto at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan. Subsequently, he returned to Bristol to undertake a 2 year grant in Bristol. He joined Jukedeck in April 2016, and his main interests are the creative applications of MIR to domains such as algorithmic composition.

 

Featured

WiMIR 1st Annual Workshop

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WiMIR 1st Annual Workshop

WiMIR is excited to partner with Spotify to offer the first-ever WiMIR Workshop, taking place on Friday, 28 September 2018 at Télécom ParisTech in Paris, France. This event is open to all members of the MIR community.

The goal of this event is to provide a venue for mentorship, networking, and collaboration among women and allies in the ISMIR community, while also highlighting technical work by women in MIR in different stages of completion. This is the first time we’ve organized such an event, and we’d love to see you there!

 

An ISMIR Satellite Event

The workshop will take place following the ISMIR2018, featuring a WiMIR reception and the Late-breaking & Demos session. This satellite event aims to complement the conference in three notable ways:

  • Further amplify the scientific efforts of women in the field.
  • Encourage the discussion of proposed or unfinished work.
  • Create additional space for networking.

 

Opportunities for Research, Networking, and Mentorship

The WiMIR Workshop will combine a variety of activities, including a poster session (see below), networking lunch, and small-group ideation and prototyping sessions under the mentorship of senior members of the WiMIR community. From the poster session to the group activities, the event will emphasize early research ideas that can be shaped and developed through discussions that occur throughout the day!

Who Can Participate?

The WiMIR Workshop is open for everyone to attend, and is free! You do not need to attend ISMIR to attend the WiMIR workshop.

Researchers who self-identify as women are invited to submit short abstracts for poster presentations on projects at any stage of completion, from proposal to previously published work. Preliminary and early results are especially encouraged so that presenters can get feedback from peers and mentors. Any topic broadly related to the field of MIR is welcome and encouraged. Click here to submit a poster. Poster submissions close on August 15, 2018, and acceptance notifications will be sent by August 31, 2018.

Please don’t hesitate to send questions to wimir.workshop@gmail.com.

Schedule

0930

1000

Registration/coffee

1000

1015

Opening Remarks

1015

1100

Mentoring Session I (intros and big picture)

1100

1200

Poster Session

1200

1300

Lunch/theme breakout

1300

1600

Mentoring Session II (deep dive into the topic)

1600

1700

Group Presentations

1700

1715

Closing remarks

We look forward to seeing you at the Women in Music Information Retrieval 1st Annual Workshop!

The WiMIR Workshop Organizers


Abstract submission form here: https://goo.gl/forms/hy3ygYnKKS9fTLa13

Featured

Mentoring round 2018 is about to start!

After matching nearly 80 mentees and mentors, we are ready to start the mentoring round 2018! We started the mentoring program in 2016 with 40 participants in total; in this third round we welcome more than 150 participants. Thanks everyone for contributing and keeping your commitment! Happy mentoring!

WiMIR mentoring 2018 participants

Mentoring Program Committee

  • Emilia Gómez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Ryan Groves, Melodrive, Germany
  • Blair Kaneshiro, Stanford University, US
  • Anja Volk, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Our mentees reside in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and USA. They range from high school student to university faculty members and industry employees, and represent a diverse field of interests and backgrounds, such as signal processing, machine learning, computer science, information technology, ethnomusicology, computational musicology, music theory, music composition, music perception and cognition, music performance, music and mathematics, neuroscience, library science, music education, multimedia research, sound design, data analytics.

We thank our generous mentors for dedicating their time to this program:

  • Kat Agres, Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), A*STAR, Singapore
  • Steinunn Arnardottir, Native Instruments, Germany
  • Andreas Arzt, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Jeanne Bamberger, UC Berkeley, USA
  • Ana M. Barbancho, Universidad de Málaga, Spain
  • Isabel Barbancho, Universidad de Málaga, Spain
  • Christine Bauer, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Juan Pablo Bello, New York University, USA
  • Brian Bemman, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Tom Butcher, Microsoft, USA
  • Doga Buse Cavdir, CCRMA, Stanford University, USA
  • Oscar Celma, Pandora, USA
  • Joe Cheri Ross, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • Srikanth Cherla, Jukedeck Ltd., UK
  • Elaine Chew, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom
  • Tom Collins, Lehigh University, USA
  • Julie Cumming, McGill, Canada
  • Sally Jo Cunningham, Waikato University, New Zealand
  • Matthew Davies, INESC TEC, Portugal
  • Andrew Demetriou, TU-Delft, Netherlands
  • Chris Donahue, University of California, San Diego, USA
  • Georgi Dzhambazov, Voice Magix, Spain
  • Douglas Eck, Google, USA
  • Dan Ellis, Google, USA
  • Mary Farbood, New York University, USA
  • George Fazekas, QMUL, UK
  • Ichiro Fujinaga, McGill University, Canada
  • Nick Gang, Shazam, USA
  • Emilia Gómez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Fabien Gouyon, Pandora, USA
  • Ryan Groves, Melodrive Inc., Germany
  • Luciana Hamond, UDESC, Brazil
  • Kate Helsen, The University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Dorien Herremans, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore
  • Eric Humphrey, Spotify, USA
  • Thor Kell, Spotify, USA
  • Anssi Klapuri, Yousician, Finland
  • Peter Knees, TU Wien, Austria
  • Robin Laney, Open University, UK
  • Audrey Laplante, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • Alexander Lerch, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
  • David Lewis, University of Oxford, UK
  • Cynthia Liem, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • Matthias Mauch, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Brian McFee, New York University, USA
  • Matt McVicar, Jukedeck, UK
  • Emilio Molina, BMAT, Spain
  • Meinard Mueller, International Audio Laboratories Erlangen, Germany
  • John Neuharth, Microsoft, USA
  • Oriol Nieto, Pandora, USA
  • Dimitri Papageorgiou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Emilia Parada-Cabaleiro, University of Augsburg, Germany
  • Geoffroy Peeters, IRCAM, France
  • Aggelos Pikrakis, University of Piraeus, Greece
  • Elio Quinton, Universal Music Group, UK
  • Preeti Rao, IIT Bombay, India
  • Iris Ren, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • Matthias Röder, Karajan Institute, Austria
  • Jimena Royo-Letelier, Deezer, France
  • Spencer Russel, MIT Media Lab, USA
  • Justin Salamon, New York University, USA,
  • Markus Schedl, Johannes Kepler University, Austria
  • Sertan Şentürk, Freelancer, Turkey
  • Kitty Zhengshan Shi, Stanford University, USA
  • Jordan Smith, Ircam, France
  • Mohamed Sordo, Pandora, USA
  • Ajay Srinivasamurthy, Idiap Research Institute, Switzerland
  • Sebastian Stober, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Bob Sturm, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Stefan Sullivan, Smule, USA
  • Mi Tian, Elsevier, UK
  • Derek Tingle, SoundCloud, Germany
  • Douglas Turnbull, Ithaca College, USA
  • George Tzanetakis, University of Victoria, Canada,
  • Rafael Valle, NVIDIA and UC Berkeley, USA
  • Makarand Velankar, MKSSS’S Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune, India
  • Gissel Velarde, Consultant at Sony CSL, Germany
  • Anja Volk, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • Thomas Walther, Spotify, UK
  • Christof Weiss, International Audio Laboratories Erlangen, Germany
  • Tillman Weyde, City University of London, UK
  • Yi-Hsuan Yang, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
  • Eva Zangerle, University of Innsbruck, Austria
Featured

Thank You ISMIR 2017 WiMIR Sponsors!

The recent ISMIR 2017 conference in Suzhou, China continued a recent trend of sponsor contributions specifically for Women in Music Information Retrieval (WiMIR) initiatives during the conference. This year, sponsors funded a guest speaker during the WiMIR plenary session, a WiMIR/Diversity reception in the social program, and substantial travel support for female researchers. These initiatives not only enabled more women to attend the conference, but also provided opportunities for the MIR community to come together as a whole to show support for women in the field, and to learn more about the challenges and benefits of fostering a diverse community.

WiMIR Session @ ISMIR 2017

As part of this year’s WiMIR plenary session, Shawn Carney (Head of Global IT at Spotify) spoke about the importance of diversity in an “increasingly interdependent, interconnected world.” Ms. Carney’s talk, Bye Bye Bias: Promoting Diverse Teams, provided insights into the value of diversity and actionable steps we can all take to work toward it (slides available here). Thank you, Shawn Carney and Spotify, for the talk!

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WiMIR/Diversity Reception

For the second year, Amazon Music hosted a WiMIR/Diversity reception during the conference. This year’s reception was open to all conference participants and included full dinner along with a Human Bingo activity to encourage attendees to talk to and learn more about the people around them. Thank you Amazon Music for bringing the community together!

 

WiMIR Travel Awards

Thanks to contributions from Spotify, Smule, Amazon Music, Gracenote, iZotope, Microsoft, and Steinberg, we were able to offer conference travel support to 22 female attendees of ISMIR 2017 – that’s 40% of the women who attended the conference! Importantly, women of any career stage could apply for travel support, and author eligibility included both accepted full papers (first or supporting author) or a presentation during the late-breaking/demo session on the last day of the conference. In the end, ISMIR 2017 WiMIR travel award recipients ranged from high school students to early faculty, over half of whom were attending the ISMIR conference for the first time.

Some feedback from WiMIR travel award recipients:

I am so glad to be in this community where people care and encourage women in MIR. I am so grateful that you are so supportive. Your support and encouragement, both mentally and financially, mean a lot to many female students like me. I’ll pass on this spirit to help many more people in the future. Thank you.
– Kitty Shi, Stanford University

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity of attending ISMIR for the first time thanks to the WiMIR travel award. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I sought ways to connect my electrical engineering education to my passion for music but had a hard time finding a community that sought to do the same. ISMIR has given me the chance to turn my curiosities into real research. The conference gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a community of people who are clearly passionate about both music and the technologies that help advance our understanding of it. I am currently applying for PhD programs, and this travel award has helped me confirm that MIR research is the direction in which I want to head.
– Camille Noufi, University of Colorado

Many thanks to our sponsors! Being a junior faculty member, I have been in academia for about 15 years, and this is the only conference, and one of the very few occasions, where I feel female researchers are truly privileged. I especially feel grateful that some female students were able to attend this internationally well-known conference only because of the support of WiMIR travel award. To them, this was their first international conference, first poster, and/or first research presentation. To many of us, ISMIR is the most friendly and inspiring conference, which is certainly related to the diversity of attendees, in terms of disciplines, research topics, place of origins, levels of study/experience, gender, etc. It is essential to keep this merit of ISMIR in the future, so that we can continue attracting and retaining precious talent in MIR. The generous support of sponsorship is highly appreciated, and I believe it will be repaid with a greater future of the field, the community, and the world.  
– Xiao Hu, University of Hong Kong

I truly appreciate that ISMIR can provide this opportunity for me to join this conference. I got tremendous and important insights into my projects through this conference. I also got some very important connections through this energetic community. Thank you!
– Sonia

ISMIR 2017 was the first ISMIR Conference I attended and it was a great opportunity to be able to meet the MIR community empowering underrepresented groups in the field. The WiMIR travel award was one of the major support for me attending the conference. I am grateful to have the support of this encouraging community. I would like to thank the ISMIR 2017 WiMIR travel award sponsors again for their generous and continuous support.
– Doga Cavdir, Stanford University

The WiMIR grant allowed me to attend ISMIR with minimal stress. As an early career researcher, I often have to pay out large sums of money for conferences months in advance and hope to be reimbursed at some point. Having the WiMIR grant not only pay for registration and lodging, but also find my lodging was more helpful and supportive than I can articulate.
– WiMIR travel award recipient

I’m very grateful for your support to make my trip to ISMIR 2017 possible. It is an incredible opportunity for my research career to present my work in the world’s most influential MIR community and receive valuable feedback from researchers all over the world. Also, invigorating talks from the foremost researchers of the field of MIR did inspire me a lot. Thanks again for funding me on this invaluable experience.
– Simin Yang, Queen Mary University of London

Thank you so much for your support for my ISMIR 2017 travel. I have learnt a lot from people in the conference and made progress on my research. This was a great opportunity for me and will be one of the most precious gifts in my life.
– WiMIR travel award recipient

Thank you to the ISMIR 2017 WiMIR travel award sponsors so much for having me, an undergraduate student, joining in the top international conference in MIR. I really enjoyed my time there and was excited to learn about so many inspiring projects and ideas. I look forward to next year’s conference in Paris!
– Shuqi Dai, Peking University

It was because of the generous WiMIR travel award that I was able to attend ISMIR for the first time and present my poster. At this conference, I was able to meet with great professors, researchers, and industry affiliates, as well as have interesting conversations that have encouraged me further in my research endeavors. Hence, I’d like to thank the sponsors for giving me the opportunity.
– So Yeon Park, Stanford University

I am in the last year of my PhD and attending ISMIR was a huge opportunity for networking. Thanks to the WiMIR sponsors and especially Smule for making this happen!
– WiMIR travel award recipient

It was my first ISMIR, and I’m happy to become a member of the society. Thanks to the scholarship I was able to attend the conference and present my ongoing work. It was inspiring by itself, and even more, I received some positive comments and helpful feedback about my research. I’m sincerely grateful to the WiMIR organisers for their efforts to create the program, and, of course, to the sponsors for making it possible.
– Olga Slizovskaia, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Thank you for so generously providing WiMIR travel awards. As a high school student, I submitted a late-breaking paper to ISMIR with no expectations, so receiving the WiMIR grant was beyond exciting and gave me so much encouragement to keep pursuing my research. ISMIR 2017 in Suzhou, China was incredible. I spoke with researchers from universities around the world and companies like Spotify, Pandora, and Smule; my conversations with people equally passionate about math, computer science, and music allowed me to learn about their projects and gain valuable feedback to expand on my own research. I got a taste of the synergy of working with people from many backgrounds and am discovering how to apply tools from one discipline to another to cross-fertilize ideas. Coming from an all-girls school especially, I am super appreciative of the work WiMIR does to increase opportunities for women in STEM like me.
– Hanna Yip, The Spence School

Thank you for the travel grant, without which it would have not been possible for me to attend ISMIR. Apart from the finances itself, what really stood out was the kinship and the immediate connection that I felt towards other WiMIR grantees. It was great to meet WiMIR researchers from across the globe and get to know them and their research. I also loved the session on Women in MIR. As someone who has worked in the industry for nearly 20 years, I am quite aware of the abysmal number of women in the field and their daily struggles. Many of the suggestions that were brought out resonated with me. Thank you once again for making it happen.
– Vidya Rangasayee, San Jose State University

Looking Forward

We believe that facilitating conference travel, as well as providing an inclusive and welcoming experience at the conference, are critical steps toward building a diverse and vibrant MIR community. We will continue to work with sponsors and other members of the community to welcome women and other individuals from underrepresented backgrounds at future conferences.

Regarding ongoing initiatives, WiMIR-specific sponsorship levels and benefits are now included in the ISMIR 2018 Call for Sponsors. In addition, the WiMIR mentoring program is entering its third round, and mentor/mentee signups are open through November 30. We also welcome feedback from the community at any time on other ways to support women in the field. Email ismir2018-sponsorship@ircam.fr and wimir-mentoring@ismir.net if you are interested in participating as a sponsor of WiMIR at ISMIR 2018, or have ideas for other initiatives!

The ISMIR 2017 WiMIR initiatives would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors, as well as the help and cooperation of the entire ISMIR 2017 Conference Committee, who came together to handle the many organizational and logistical tasks related to the travel grants and conference programming. Thank you also to the WiMIR travel award recipients for participating in the conference, and to those who provided feedback to the sponsors.

Thank You ISMIR 2017 WiMIR Sponsors!

PLATINUM smule-e1497583384943              PLATINUM Spotify_Logo_RGB_Green_WEBSITE

PLATINUM Amazon Music_RGB_Gradient WEB

PLATINUM Gracenote_A_Nielsen_Company_Logo_BLUE (1)   SILVER izotope-logo-black   PLATINUM Microsoft-logo_cmyk_c-gray   GOLD Steinberg_LOGO

Blair Kaneshiro (Sponsorships Co-Chair for the ISMIR 2017 conference) is a Research Scientist in the department of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her current research focuses primarily on objective assessment of auditory function and music cognition using electrophysiological responses. She earned her BA in Music, MA in Music, Science, and Technology, MS in Electrical Engineering, and PhD in Computer-Based Music Theory and Acoustics, all from Stanford. She is active in the Women in Music Information Retrieval (WiMIR) community as co-organizer, with Emilia Gómez and Anja Volk, of the WiMIR mentoring program; as well as with the First-Gen/Low-Income (FLI) community and mentoring program at Stanford. She is an incoming board member of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval.

Featured

Sign-ups open for WiMIR mentoring round 2018

WiMIR

For preparing the third round of the Women in Music Information Retrieval (WiMIR) mentoring program, to begin in January 2018,  we kindly invite previous and new mentors and mentees to sign up for the upcoming round through the signup forms linked below in this post.

The WiMIR mentoring program connects women students, postdocs, early-stage researchers, industry employees, and faculty to more senior women and men in MIR who are dedicated to increasing opportunities for women in the field. Mentors will share their experiences and offer guidance to support mentees in achieving and exceeding their goals and aspirations. By connecting individuals of different backgrounds and expertise, this program strengthens networks within the MIR community, both in academia and industry.

Time commitment: four remote meetings between January and end of June 2018.

Who is eligible?

– Female undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, early-stage researchers, industry employees, and faculty may sign up as mentees.

– Graduate students, industry employees, researchers, and faculty of any gender may sign up as mentors.

– Those meeting criteria for both mentor and mentee roles are welcome to sign up as both.

Faculty: Please share this announcement with female undergraduates in your departments and labs who may be interested in participating. The mentoring program can help attracting newcomers at an early stage to the MIR field.

Sign up to GET a mentor here: http://bit.ly/2AAZIqL

Sign up to BE a mentor here: http://bit.ly/2zuZp3b

Signups close Nov 30, 2017. Mentor/mentee matches will be announced in January 2018.

More information on the program:

For general information check out https://wimir.wordpress.com/mentoring-program/

Report on the mentoring round in 2017, including feedback from participants,  to be found here. Participants’ reports on their experience with the program: Stefanie Acevedo, Magdalena Fuentes, Iris Yuping Ren, Ryan Groves.

Questions? Email wimir-mentoring@ismir.net

We look forward to your response and commitment to continuing the mentoring program!

Emilia Gómez, Blair Kaneshiro, and Anja Volk (WiMIR Mentoring Program Committee)

Featured

WiMIR session at ISMIR 2017

We are looking forward to the next WiMIR session at ISMIR conference in Suzhou, kindly organized by our WiMIR co-chairs:

Jin Ha Lee
Jin Ha Lee
University of Washington,
USA
Preeti Rao
Preeti Rao
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay,
India

Zhongzhe Xiao
Soochow University,
Mainland China

The WiMIR meeting will take place in October 24th from 13:20 to 14:20, according to the program. There will also be a WiMIR reception at 18:00.

For this year’s WiMIR session, we will begin with a brief overview of the group, recognition of WiMIR sponsors, and report on disbursement of WiMIR funding. We will then summarise and discuss various initiatives that happened in the previous year. This will be followed by the talk by Shawn Carney, Director of IT at Spotify, titled Bye Bye Bias: Promoting Diverse Teams. 

Finally, we will wrap up the session with Q&A with Shawn Carney, and discussion of ideas for new initiatives to further support women in the field.  More information is available at the ISMIR 2017 web page.

We thank the generous WiMIR sponsors of ISMIR2017:


   


         

Featured

WiMIR Mentoring Program Report 2017: the many faces of diversity

WiMIR_poster_final

Poster design: Julia Wilkins

Blog post by Anja Volk (Utrecht University), Co-Founder of the WiMIR Mentoring Program

We started the mentoring program in 2016, after many years of regular meetings of the Women in MIR group, which is dedicated to promoting the role of, and increasing opportunities for, women in the MIR field. The mentoring program was founded to connect women students, postdocs, early-stage researchers, industry employees, and faculty to more senior women and men in MIR. The program encourages and supports women in pursuing a career in MIR, raises an awareness on issues often faced by women in our field, and establishes networks between different generations, genders, and disciplines within MIR in academia and industry.

In this second round of the program in 2017, the number of participants has more than doubled. We have asked participants for anonymous feedback on their experience with the program after the closing in June 2017, in order to help the Mentoring Program Committee (Emilia Gómez, Blair Kaneshiro, and Anja Volk) to gain insights into what has worked well or less well for participants. With this blog post we share the outcomes of the mentoring round in 2017 as reflected by participants. We hope to provide a general overview on the benefits of this community effort to increase diversity in MIR, and to give an idea of the gains for individual participants.  

Participants

Around 50 mentees signed up for the program, residing in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They ranged from high school student to associate professor, coming from a diverse field of interests and backgrounds, such as digital signal processing, computer music, computer science, music theory, computational musicology, music psychology, music performance, music and mathematics, music perception and cognition, computational ethnomusicology, composition, computational neuroscience, digital media, information science and human computer interaction. Mentors came from equally diverse backgrounds and different stages of career, residing in North America, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand, with roughly 1/3 working in industry and 2/3 in academia. Compared to the first round in 2016, we have seen a strong increase in the number of mentors from industry. As in 2016, an equal number of male and female mentors participated.

Matching procedure

We considered a number of different aspects when establishing the matches, such as general research interest and background, language, time zone, level of seniority, and specific requests from mentees on certain research or career topics. While it was often impossible to find a perfect match on all points, we strived to find the best possible overlap in commonalities. Participants were in general happy with their matches according to the feedback (on a scale between 0 and 5, 87% mentees rated the fitness of their match with a 4 or 5, so did 67% of the mentors). We do feel ready for the next MIREX challenge for helping us to solve this big puzzle: what would be the best algorithm for automatically matching the participants? One big challenge was the difference in time zones, as it is not always possible to find mentor and mentee within the same time zone, or even same continent.  Participants commented that both the commonalities in the matches were helpful, but also the differences for gaining new perspectives, such as discovering how research is organized in different countries.

Mentoring sessions

Participants had signed up for maximal 4 remote meetings in total between January and June 2017, while 42 % of mentees reported 4 and more meetings, others reported fewer meetings.

The following topics have been discussed in the mentoring sessions according to the feedback, with decreasing order of importance:

  • Career paths in academia
  • Career paths in industry
  • Work/life balance
  • Graduate school
  • Dealing with sexism
  • Balancing career with family/children

What did mentees gain

Overall, the mentees were very positive about the mentoring sessions – check out the gratitude wall – and have fun! Mentees reported very different aspects as important gains, from getting a general overview on research in music and technology, to getting a clearer picture on different career options, but also in receiving very concrete help in writing a paper or grant proposal. Here we report some examples on what they have taken home from the program:

  • Cooperation on a conference article
  • Feedback on research
  • Sharing questions and concerns
  • Getting a bigger perspective
  • Better understanding of priority of funders
  • Useful advice about internship
  • Gain a different perspective than those of my immediate colleagues
  • Getting to know a very wide field of research in music and technology fields
  • Better confidence in my abilities and professional options
  • Better understanding of different career paths in industry and academia

Examples of what mentees say about the program:

I saw possibilities and perspectives of people who ‘know better’ about that world in which I’m moving towards to but not quite there.

The gender disproportionality somehow to me brings fear of not choosing a secure career option. The mentorship program has been a confidence booster to me.

The WiMIR mentoring program clearly helps to create a better network among the members of the field, because it introduces people that otherwise would probably have never met.

For more detailed descriptions of benefits for mentees, please check out the blog posts by Stefanie Acevedo, Magdalena Fuentes and Iris Yuping Ren.

What did mentors gain

Many of the mentors indicated that they have taken valuable insights from the conversations, here are some examples:

  • Evaluating their own career path and reflecting on their own priorities
  • Gaining perspectives on struggles and concerns of junior staff in industry
  • Learning about differences in academic systems between North America and Europe
  • Mentees brought new ideas, mentors learnt something new about themselves
  • Good experience that their background and skills are useful for someone else
  • Being inspired by young researchers in the field
  • Gaining a friend

Examples of what mentors say about the program:

There are few things during my academic work day that take less time and have such immediate and longer-term impacts.

It was exciting to me to see my mentee being eager to proudly tell me about new accomplishments and insights and me being proud on these accomplishments as well. I got the feeling that I may have had a positive impact on the mentee and that both sides actually likewise benefited from the mentoring program.

I got to know brilliant people whom I wouldn’t have a chance to know otherwise.

For more: check out the gratitude wall from the mentors, and Ryan Groves’ blog post on the perspective of a mentor!

General feedback on the program

Both mentors and mentees reported a positive overall experience of the mentoring program: 88% of mentees gave it a 4 or 5 (on a scale between 0 and 5); 73% of mentors gave it a 4 or 5. The majority considered the time span between January and June appropriate, though 46% of the mentees and 32% of the mentors would have preferred a longer time span. Some participants reported difficulties in scheduling meetings, sometimes due to time zone differences.

Importance of the program for increasing diversity in MIR

Participants considered the extra support and push for women in our gender-imbalanced area as an important point of the program for increasing diversity, along with the factor of helping to make women in the field more visible, as well as attracting people from other fields who might learn more about MIR through this program. Participants also commented on the potential of the program to provide (male) mentors with a better understanding on how to make their institutions and themselves more accessible and inclusive.

New ideas by participants :

Participants mentioned a number of new ideas in the feedback form, such as

  • Make peer mentoring accessible for mutual support of mentors, such as on discussing papers or proposals
  • Connect mentees with each other through mailing list or chat platforms for exchanging ideas with others in a similar situation
  • Create profiles of women who have participated in the program on website for visibility
  • Get together at conferences, organize local networking
  • Establish contacts to high schools for early information on MIR

Conclusions by mentoring program committee for next round

We are in the process of discussing how to implement the new ideas mentioned by participants. Here are some ideas:

  • Mentors can indicate in sign up form whether they are interested in peer mentoring and what they would be interested in discussing with a peer. We will establish email contact between all mentors who are interested in peer mentoring, including information what they want to discuss, and then mentors can contact each other. Mentors can also indicate whether they would be interested in participating in a forum with other mentors.
  • Mentees can indicate in signup form whether they want to be part of email group or group chat with other mentees on exchanging ideas with peers. We establish the contact between all mentees who are interested, and then leave the mentee group to organize themselves.
  • We need volunteers for creating profiles of women for the website.
  • For anyone being in contact with high schools in their local area, we can provide a Power Point presentation about the mentoring program.
  • If anyone would like to organize a local networking event, please let us know for helping to spread the word about it. 

Note: If anybody has a comment or different suggestion, and wants to get involved in organizing, please contact us at wimir-mentoring@ismir.net.

A note from the program committee

We would like to thank all participants for making this round of the mentoring program happen! The doubts and concerns that are often mentioned by mentees when they sign up for this program — on whether or not there might be a career for them in this field — have been openly discussed in the mentoring sessions. We are happy that this community pays an invaluable contribution of encouragement to meet these concerns. Moreover, participants help to introduce MIR with its different disciplinary facets to people who have sometimes hardly heard about this field before, or to those with a different disciplinary background. Both mentees and mentors appreciated a new perspective on a different discipline, generation, gender, career path, country or continent – as a testament to the fact that “Mentoring is a two-way street” (Steve Washington) which considers many different facets of diversity. Or, as Amy V Beeston has put it in her blog post, we find courage through encouraging others, such that mentoring is a mutual gain. And in our case, we extend the gain to the third dimension of the mentoring program committee: by organizing this program, we provide a frame to be filled in by the participants, as it is up to the mentors and mentees to conceptualize whatever support is helpful in their individual sessions. Learning about the diverse outcomes, new emerging connections and ideas resulting from these individual cases means for us to see our efforts creatively multiplied into all kinds of directions – a moment of great joy, which we would like to share with all participants.

Anja Volk (Utrecht University), holds master degrees in both mathematics and musicology, and a PhD in the field of computational musicology. The results of her research have substantially contributed to areas such as music information retrieval, computational musicology, digital cultural heritage, music cognition, and mathematical music theory.  In 2010 she has been invited to join AcademiaNet: The Portal to Excellent Women Academics. She is founding board member of the International Society for Mathematics and Computation in Music (SMCM).  Between 2013 and 2015 she served as a board member of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval. In 2016 she launched together with Amélie Anglade, Emilia Gómez and Blair Kaneshiro the Women in MIR (WIMIR) Mentoring Program.  She co-organized the launch of the Transactions of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, the open access journal of the ISMIR society, and is serving as Co-Editor-in-Chief for the journal’s first term.

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WiMIR Mentoring 2017 Gratitude Wall

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Poster design: Julia Wilkins

This blog post displays notions of mutual gratitude from participants of the WiMIR Mentoring Program in 2017. The program run between January and June 2017, with four remote sessions between mentee and mentor. Participants from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand came from a wide range of disciplinary background in music and technology. With this gratitude wall we share some of the benefits participants have experienced. Thanks everyone who has contributed to this wall! Have fun reading!

Mentees’ gratitude towards mentors

Thank you for your time, enthusiasm, and intelligence in accompanying me in this important transition from student to independent researcher! Your words about the method of work, interdisciplinary connections, and trust for the job search are very important and I am so grateful to you for these. Thank you so much!

Hi A. I see this opportunity to thank you publicly. You have been a great mentor and I will always be thankful to you for your help in making such a huge transition. All those DSP sessions have now enhanced my confidence and I hope to contribute to the MIR domain in the near future. Of course, I am going to continue to have sessions. Thank you once again ! 🙂

I am grateful for my mentor to take time out of his schedule to connect with me.

Thank you very much for taking your time, and for sharing your resources generously!

Thank you so much for your time, patience, answering all my questions and sharing your experience with me. It was a great program and it helped me get a more complete picture of the life after the PhD.

Thanks so much for the sessions! It’s always been a pleasure to talk to you. Very important to have someone’s opinions from the outside world. I learned a lot!

I feel very grateful for being part of the WiMIR program and to have an awesome mentor. It passes on skills, shares experience, and simply doubles the joy during research.

Thank you very much for your time and effort. You helped me in being more secure and better understanding what I was moving towards to. It’s funny how it may seem a simple conversation, but actually has a great effect.

Thank you for generously sharing your time and experience, and for giving me the opportunity to air uncertain thoughts in a low-pressure environment.

Thank you so much for all the advice that you gave me about both my academia and industry path. I truly valued your input as I was choosing a summer internship, and I would not feel confident in my choice without your help. Your openness and willingness to help and discuss anything was much appreciated, and I also loved hearing about your experience at your job and past institutions. I look up to you in many ways an aspire to follow a similar path to yours. You inspire me to want to be a great mentor to another young woman someday! Thanks for everything!

Grateful for the support and the motivation!

Thank you for your great understanding regarding all the doubts and concerns I had (and still have) in relation to a career path and life. Our conversations have been a great comfort and I am very grateful for your advice.

Thanks for being open and helpful from the very beginning!

My mentor was kind, encouraging, and easy to talk to. I could not have asked for a better mentor!

Hi, very glad to know and talk with H. Though I could not go through all the tracks and had short term to discuss our subject, it was impressive enough.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and insight into ways to get more immersed in the field of MIR. You showed me how it’s done.

It was great to talk to him! He’s an outstanding researcher and above all he was very humble and nice in all the meetings. I would like to thank him very much for his patience and time!

Thank you for taking the time to engage me like a colleague, sharing your knowledge and giving support. Your aid was indispensable.

Thank you so much! Having an open mind and willingness to help people is so important and you have truly left an impact. I know now that I will always have someone I can look to for guidance and support and it really means a lot.

Thank you to all who organized this program! It was truly a great experience and allowed me to talk to someone working in the field first-hand.

Thank you to my mentor for helping me explore different career paths within the MIR field.

Mentors’ gratitude towards mentees

Dear mentee, thank you for being my mentee for the last six months. During the course of the mentoring program, we got to know each other bit by bit and found that we do have a lot in common. This made it really easy to talk and to me, our telephone conferences simply flew by. I watched you taking a number of important steps and hope that you continue your path. I hope that you did enjoy it as much as I did and that you could actually gain from the program as much as I did.

Thanks for participating! Keep the good work up 🙂

Thank you for sharing how your love of music performance informs your research!

Thank you for being such an enjoyable companion. I was surprised by how much I looked forward to our discussions, and how quickly they went by.

I am glad that you worked hard to complete an ISMIR manuscript even though it was not ready. Sometime you just need to press on.

Thanks for all of our conversations!

Thank you for different view points and the research directions in Indian classical music.

It was a pleasure talking to a young and motivated student following an academic path.

Thank you for your curiosity and interest!

I’m so glad this initiative exists. Thanks a ton, organizers!

Thank you for your commitment to MIR despite the lack of encouragement from several quarters!

Keep on rockin’ mentee! Keep connected to MIR, and enrich MIR with these new tools you are learning in a neighboring field.

Thank you for your trust and patience while I learn the ropes of being a more effective mentor!

Follow your dreams!

Thank you for the nice chat on the thrilling steps of learning playing music instruments and enjoying music in general. I hope I will see you some day fulfilling your musical dreams!

Thanks so much for the honest, open and good-hearted sharing of experiences, ideas, questions and the occasional doubt. I saw myself reflected on your hopes and concerns more than expected, and I believe the experience not only to improve as a mentor, but as a member of the MIR community too. Thanks!

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss your research and your aspiration on pursuing scientific inquires!

I look forward to mentoring future MIR researchers!

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Round 2 of WiMIR travel awards to attend ISMIR 2017 in Suzhou, China

Round 2 of travel awards to attend in Suzhou, China, Oct 23-27 is now open.

We have made a slight adjustment to the timeline for late-breaking demo (LBD) submissions associated with Round 2 of the WiMIR travel awards for the ISMIR2017 conference. Current information is below.
Application form: http://bit.ly/2i5nCpc
Deadline to apply: August 31, 2017
Acceptance notifications: September 8, 2017
Deadline to submit completed LBD draft (for LBD recipients): October 8, 2017
Deadline to complete minor LBD revisions and submit final version (for LBD recipients): October 22, 2017
 
Eligibility requirements:
– Female author (first or supporting) on accepted full paper; and/or female first author on accepted late-breaking demo (LBD) submission.
– WiMIR applicants do not need to be students.
Questions? Email ismir2017-grants@ismir.net
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Convolutional Methods for Music Analysis

Blogpost by Gissel Velarde, researcher in Music Information Retrieval and WiMIR mentor, summarising her PhD work.  

In April this year, I defended my thesis entitled: Convolutional Methods for Music Analysis, available here.

This work introduces convolution, its relevance for perceptual tasks, and its effect on music analysis in applications to music segmentation, pattern discovery and classification. The methodology we have followed was to systematically study and evaluate the effect of convolution (filtering) and other processing techniques together with machine learning algorithms, from k-nearest neighbours, single linkage, support vector machines to convolutional neural networks.

The novel convolution-based methods for music analysis presented in my thesis have been developed together with my supervisors Associate Professor David Meredith, Aalborg University and Senior Lecturer Tillman Weyde City, University of London, as well as in collaboration with researchers from The Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence: Carlos Cancino Chacón and Maarten Grachten.

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Picture of PhD Defense of Gissel Velarde, April 2017, Aalborg University

Bio
Gissel Velarde completed her PhD studies in computer science at Aalborg University, supported by a scholarship from the Department of Architecture Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, and partially supported by the European Commission, FET grant number 610859. She also holds a Masters degree in Electronic Systems and Engineering Management from the Südwestfallen University of Applied Sciences, supported by a DAAD scholarship. Her Licenciatura degree in Systems Engineering was obtained from the Universidad Católica Boliviana. She was a research member of the European Commission Project “Learning to Create” (Lrn2Cre8).

Before dedicating to technology, Velarde studied piano at the Conservatorio Plurinacional de Música in La Paz, Bolivia and won as a pianist, several prices and honors.

During her doctoral studies at Aalborg University, she published research papers on computational methods for music analysis. She was teaching assistant on the Master of Science program in Sound and Music Computing and supervised various projects of the Bachelor program in Medialogy.

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Approaching Feminism as a Male Data Scientist

Blog post by WiMIR mentor Ryan Groves, co-founder of Melodrive

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Painting Equality used with permission from artist Osnat Tzadok, find original here.

The internet has provided a new platform for an obscene amount of information. Anyone with a computer and a connection can now be heard in the international community. Through the accessibility of information, citizens have become journalists, comedians, celebrities, laughing stocks, community leaders and even scientists just through the means of access to this information tsunami. One particular aspect of this is the ability for marginalized groups to directly confront those who are more privileged, or even perpetrate that marginalization.

I am a man. I had a relatively privileged upbringing–good schools and active parents. When I first started reading about feminism, I had the knee-jerk reaction that most men have: “They couldn’t be talking about me”. Surely I was a more-informed member of the opposite sex. Surely all of my accomplishments were based on my merit, and not on some advantage bestowed unto me. Surely I wasn’t gaining those advantages through the disadvantages of my peers.

As a data scientist, I teach machines how to understand human problems, and to perform human-like solutions. I decided to do what a good data scientist would do–to gather evidence, form a hypothesis, train the model to solve that problem, and test. Only this time, I’d be the subject.

Gathering Evidence

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Mansplaining. According to the New Republic [1], the essay that kicked off the whole idea was by the decorated author, Rebecca Solnit, in her piece, “Men Explain Things to Me; Facts Didn’t Get in Their Way”. In it, she says that “the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men”. Even in my marginally-more-enlightened state, after having opened myself up to this issue, I still find my instinctual male reaction kicking in when I read this sentence, which is to reject this notion outright. But that is exactly the point–why would I not approach this as evidence, as opposed to rejecting it as opinion? The author continues:

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

As a man, this was initially a foreign idea to me–an issue of which I was totally unaware.

The problem goes beyond Mansplaining. More recently, I read a really insightful blog post by a female engineer & designer, Nikki Lee, titled “Ride Like a Girl”. In it, she relates the experience of living as a woman in a world designed for men to being a biker in a world designed for cars. In it, she says:

Maybe you’ve noticed that cars are kind of scary. They are more or less scary depending on where you live — if you’re on a nice calm street in Seattle, drivers will give you plenty of room and wait patiently for you. Other places, drivers will try to run you off the road. And no matter where you are, you know that the cars around you could really mess you up if something went wrong.

[…]

In places with great cycling infrastructure, it’s really easy to get around just as efficiently as driving. But most cities don’t have that. These environments aren’t just not built for you, they’re constructed in a way that actively excludes you.

This analogy really resonated with me, because, like most people, I’ve had this experience while biking. I have indeed witnessed negligent drivers who impose the risk of real physical harm on bikers through their negligence. I have been held to a double-standard by having those same negligent drivers call me out for minor traffic infractions.

In industry, there are plenty of examples of the same disadvantages. I recently attended a Meetup event for gaming and game development in Berlin, and had the honor to hear a talk given by Brie Code. Brie Code is a speaker, writer, and the CEO of a new game studio, Tru Luv Media. She has worked for years in the games industry as a game AI developer and designer. Brie had always found that she had a very different response to games than traditional gamers. As she presents in her blog post on the topic:

[M]ultitudes of white masculine gamers who dominate the games industry have made experiences that are relevant to them but not to most people.

Brie often didn’t feel the “fight-or-flight” response to dangerous in-game situations. When she tried to explain this to other game developers and executives, they would confront her about it, even indicating that her own experience was wrong. Brie decided to do some research into the underlying assumptions that fuel those opinions. The research she discovered was compelling.

The most-commonly-known physiological response to threatening situations in games is fight-or-flight. As Brie Code puts it:

With fight-or-flight, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in and releases adrenaline followed by dopamine. If you like games like this, it’s probably because adrenaline and dopamine are very enjoyable. Your pupils dilate. Your heart beats faster. Your airways open up. And you feel exhilarated. You feel alive. You feel powerful.

Because Brie (as well as many of her friends) did not respond to games in this way, she dug up the psychological research around these responses, and found a completely different, competing response: tend-and-befriend. As Brie describes:

If you experience tend-and-befriend, it’s because your body releases oxytocin or vasopressin when you’re stressed, followed by opioids. This calms your sympathetic nervous system so you don’t get the flood of adrenaline. Instead of wanting to fight or to flee, you stay relatively calm, but aware. Your pupils dilate, you become fearless, and you are less sensitive to pain. You instinctively want to protect your loved ones, to seek out your allies, and to form new alliances. Oxytocin intensifies social feelings, and opioids feel extremely warm and lovely.

Research shows that oxytocin is involved in the physiological response to these threatening situations more-so for women than for men. In order to discover why this tend-and-befriend response was so overlooked, Brie did even more research. Prior to 1995, only 17% of the participants of psychological stress studies were female. In addition, according to an article by Think Progress, a 2014 review of sports and exercise studies showed that only 39% of 6 million participants were women. Brie found that this bias existed in things such as air-bag deployment, or identifying the signs of heart attacks.

However, it’s not only women that respond to games with tend-and-befriend. It seems that there is simply more to the picture than the traditional fight-or-flight response, which is exactly what Brie set out to prove.

Even in the highest office of the (American) land, female staffers were feeling overrun by their male counterparts. So much so, that they devised a strategy of mutual affirmation.

If we’re forming our opinions based on biased information, and excluding opposing opinions, then even what we consider to be fact is potentially false. It certainly seemed there was a common theme in all of these examples, which was succinctly described in the previously-mentioned article by Nikki Lee: These environments aren’t just not built for you, they’re constructed in a way that actively excludes you.

Forming a Hypothesis

I decided to challenge myself. Perhaps, rather than hypothesizing that all of this evidence was untrue, and trying to prove that, I should do exactly the opposite: I chose to hypothesize that all of this was true, and challenged myself to prove that it was.

Training myself to be aware

Since making this decision I’ve tried to be more aware of the issues facing women specifically. But how does one really change her own perspective? It isn’t solvable with a single bout of effort. It needs to be as consistent of an effort as it is for those who are not at a natural advantage in society’s constructed environments–one needs to be as aware as a biker in a city. As has been evident with the recent political happenings in the USA, sources of information can have a huge effect on your thoughts, habits, and perspectives. The two camps for Clinton and Trump were both guilty of consuming information that supported their own perspectives, which was why it was such a rude awakening for the Clinton supporters when Trump was elected. In general, we think of receiving information as a passive process, and in many cases it is hard to avoid consuming certain information. However, there are ways to customize your acquisition of information, and to control the perspectives that you choose to expose yourself to. In effect, you can run your own self-inflicted propaganda campaign.

I also endeavored to prove the hypothesis by gathering my own data. I found there to be ample evidence of the gender-based slights in my daily life. A female coworker filed a sexual harassment complaint, and the whole company was subjected to a sexual harassment seminar–with the glaring exclusion of the offender. Another female colleague was asked her opinion on her area of expertise, only to have them initially reject her opinion outright, and then claim her idea as their own in the final version. In a pickup basketball game, a female teammate suggests reducing the game to 4 on 4, because we only have teams of 5 and 6, and it would be hard for her team (of 5) to be running for the entire game with no substitutes. A man responds, insisting it be 5 on 5, and shouts “we’re men, and we want to run!”.

I’ve even noticed simple micro-aggressions in the academic world. At a recent conference, I walked up to a particular poster presentation in the middle of a conversation between the presenter and a female participant. Immediately, the presenter’s focus shifted from the woman to me, and it was as if the woman was no longer part of the conversation.

Testing

With the mounting evidence from both personal experience and outside sources, it seems that gender issues are real, and pose a serious barrier to equal opportunity. So how do I use this gained perspective to make a real change?

Spread the Word

One constructive approach is to evangelize my own personal process, and to encourage other men to change their perspective. It is indeed both genders’ responsibility that people are treated fairly. This blog post is my first attempt at that. But it also involves ongoing discussions and dialogue.

Confrontation

Now that I am convinced of my hypothesis, it’s my responsibility to confront micro-aggressions and unfair treatment that occur in my surroundings.

Continue My Personal Awareness Campaign

My perspective is not perfect, and I don’t expect it ever to be. For the last 2 years, I’ve been a mentor for the Women in MIR (WiMIR) mentoring program. It’s a fantastic initiative that is trying to address some of these gender-based discrepancies in academia, with a specific focus on the MIR (Music Information Retrieval) community. Part of the reason that I like to be a WiMIR mentor is to simply be aware of the issues that women face in the workplace from their perspective, since there are always things that I personally overlook coming from the perspective of the opposite gender.

Build a Positive Work Environment

As a business owner in my capacity of co-founder of Melodrive, I have the unique opportunity to sculpt my own business’ work environment, and it’s my responsibility to create an environment that is as inclusive as possible. Recently, the Augmented Reality company Magic Leap had a lawsuit alleging gender-based discrimination. In the lawsuit, there contains a really thoughtful list of recommendations for a company that wants to be more inclusive (written by Tannen Campbell).

  • Creating “parents’ guides” for cities where Magic Leap had offices, and listing recommended doctors, babysitters, etc. for newcomers
  • Establishing internships for female students to code/build for mixed reality
  • Creating an internal mentorship program pairing men with women;
  • Increasing paternity leave to show that Magic Leap values a man’s role in child caregiving and allows busy moms to return to work sooner if they choose;
  • Tying diversity to extra bonuses, e.g., giving a department head an additional bonus for increasing gender diversity
  • Implementing mandatory “unconscious bias training” for leadership;
  • Demonstrating a commitment to encouraging young girls’ interest in tech education by replacing the “swag”–T-shirts, notebooks and the like–handed out to important visitors with a donation in the important visitor’s name to Girls Who Code, and organization devoted to overcoming the gender gap in tech jobs.
  • Creating and appending an “Equal Pay Guarantee” stamp or seal on all Magic Leap’s position descriptions in recruiting material and elsewhere, evidencing Magic Leap’s commitment to equal pay for equal work within the same tier
  • “Fishing where the fish are” by recruiting employees from a list of colleges, provided by Campbell, with the highest number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) departments

With all of these new data points, and my somewhat-improved perspective, it will hopefully be easier to be proactive to create a non-hostile work environment and accommodating employee policies as a small business owner. Additionally, perhaps I’ll be able to move the needle to a society that is more open and inclusive. And while I feel that I have personally made progress in being more in tune with the perspectives of others, I don’t feel that I’ve completed my task. This is an ongoing challenge, just like it is for those who experience disadvantages in their daily lives and beyond.

  1. https://newrepublic.com/article/118555/rebecca-solnits-men-explain-things-me-scourge-mansplaining

Ryan Groves is a computational music theorist, composer and data scientist. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from UCLA, and continued on to complete a Master’s in Music Technology from McGill University. As the former Director of R&D for Zya, he developed a musical messenger app that automatically sings your texts, called Ditty. Ditty won the Best Music App of 2015 from the Appy Awards. In 2016, his research in computational music theory was awarded the Best Paper at the prominent music technology conference, ISMIR. With his new venture, Melodrive, he and his co-founding team of two PhDs in Music and AI are looking to build the world’s best artificially intelligent composer, and to change the way music is experienced in video games and virtual environments.

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Mentorship as a way to mind the gap in music academia and to prepare students for the “real world.”

Blog post by WiMIR mentee Stefanie Acevedo, PhD Candidate at Yale University

I knew I wanted a career in music academia since I was fifteen. Now, as I begin the last year of my PhD program in music theory, I feel a mixture of fear, eagerness, and sometimes, uncertainty as to whether I wish to continue in the field. This comes not only due to increasing hostility toward the “liberal conspiracy” of higher education, budget cuts across the board for humanities and music programs, and increasing corporatization of Universities, but also due to slowed (and perhaps even declining) progress for women’s and minority rights in the United States. After spending so many years in graduate school, I worry that all of that effort will be for naught and that my student debt will only grow deeper and deeper due to accruing interest while I make ends meet as an adjunct or visiting professor.

Then again, that anxiety may just be coming from my impostor syndrome [1].

Yet the reality brought on by many of these problems ring true, especially for individuals who make up minorities in musicology fields (women, people-of-color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals alike): not only must we navigate the world as minorities, but we are also facing a volatile job market.

As a rising educator, then, how can I speak to my students, especially those who are minorities, and tell them that music is a worthwhile career? How can I responsibly educate my students and let them know that, despite spending many years and dollars putting themselves through graduate school, they might have to face years of uncertainty on the job market?

This is where mentoring programs by organizations like WiMIR play a large role.

But first, let us ignore the current job market and focus on the benefits of mentoring. We know that mentoring and support systems allow minority students to thrive [2]. Many minority students are surrounded by societal pressures and, consequently, insecurity – a mentor, aware of the psychological and social dynamics at play, is then able to aid the student in reaching their goals. I, personally, have been lucky to have a PhD advisor who is sensitive to the hardships faced by minority students, and can thus, guide me in matters other than my dissertation research. I am also very lucky to have a wide support network of past professors and mentors who have encouraged me along the way. Many students, especially minorities, do not have that type of support from their advisors or professors, and could benefit from these type of relationships beyond their immediate school environments.

Further, research has shown that women and other minority faculty are more likely to take on mentoring roles than non-minority faculty [3]. This can be problematic in, at least, two ways: A) The amount of time spent on mentoring and related service can compromise minority faculty’s research time (affecting advancement in their field) [4] and B) in departments were minority faculty are scarce, students may not be able to receive the full support they require (leading to lower diversity). Organizational mentoring programs, such as WiMIR’s, can definitely provide outside help to attenuate these problems. These programs also have the potential to indirectly alter department cultures. By becoming mentors, non-minority faculty members can learn and adapt their mentoring to better suit the needs of minority students (and faculty) – they are often even more willing to mentor in the future [5]. Many benefits arise. First of all, minority faculty would be less burdened, giving them more time to research or extend their service elsewhere. If a wider range of faculty invested time into and valued mentoring and similar service more, those activities may be better appreciated by the University as a whole – the service may then be weighed more heavily on, for example, the tenure dossier [6]. And, finally, as non-minority faculty become better attuned to issues faced by minorities, they can facilitate change in department cultures toward inclusivity and diversity [7].

More importantly, though, mentoring programs by organizations such as WiMIR can aid students in diversifying their interests in order to better prepare them for successful careers. As an educator in music, I believe it is my duty to enable students to follow their dreams, but also to prepare them for the real world. As a Hispanic woman, I want to increase the diversity in music theory, but I feel a responsibility to my students to give them the broader picture: academia is cutthroat, the road is long, and job prospects are difficult. I want students to be able to follow their hearts and passion for the arts, but I also want them to have financially-stable and bright futures. The best possible way to prepare a student for a music career, in my opinion, is to diversify their portfolio with a secondary interest in order to develop lucrative skills (not just for a job at a music department, but also for a job in Arts Management at BMI or ASCAP, or as a Data Scientist at Spotify or Google). In my case, I diversified by pursuing a master’s degree in experimental psychology and learning computational skills. We need to be marketable as specialists in music that can apply that knowledge outside of the concert hall or theory classroom. While Universities tout interdisciplinarity, resources are often lacking and students may not have the knowledge, time, or guidance to seek out secondary interests (especially at disadvantaged schools). Not many students can afford the luxury of getting multiple degrees. At many schools, a music degree does not provide training beyond the traditional Western Classical music curriculum. This, then, is where external mentorship can aid students to not only experiment and define other interests, but also gain exposure to and prepare themselves for alternate career paths that also utilize their musical talent. Even for older students, like myself, or those who have already graduated, cross-disciplinary mentorship can help us expand our horizons, leading to a broader portfolio, an increased awareness of the applications of our research, or even, a back up career plan.

Stefanie Acevedo is a PhD Candidate in music theory at Yale University. She is a past member of the Society for Music Theory’s Committee for the Status of Women, a past board member of the International Alliance for Women in Music, and currently serves as a member of the Graduate and Professional Student Title IX Advisory Board at Yale. Her dissertation is a computational and EEG study of popular harmony expectation. She is currently a mentee in WiMIR’s mentorship program.

END NOTES:

  1. Peteet, B.J., L. Montgomery, and J.C. Weekes (2015). “Predictors of imposter phenomenon among talented ethnic minority undergraduate students.” The Journal of Negro Education 84(2), pp. 175-186;  Richards, C. (2015). “Learning to deal with the Impostor Syndrome.” The New York Times, October 26.
  2. Thomas, K.M., L.A. Willis, and J. Davis (2007). “Mentoring minority graduate students: issues and strategies for institutions, faculty, and students.” Equal Opportunities International 26(3): pp.178-192, doi: 10.1108/02610150710735471; Blackwell, J.E. (1989). “Mentoring: An action strategy for increasing minority faculty.” Academe 75(5), pp. 8-14.
  3. Acker, S. and G. Feuerverger (1996). “Doing good and feeling bad: The work of women university teachers.” Cambridge Journal of Education 26(3), pp. 401-422.; Flaherty, C. (2015). “Negotiating Balance.” Inside Higher Education, April 22.
  4. Guarino, C.M., and M.H. Borden (2017). “Faculty service loads and gender: Are women taking care of the academic family?” Research in Higher Education.
  5. Ragins, B.R. and J.L. Cotton (1993). “Gender and willingness to mentor in organizations.” Journal of Management 19(1), pp. 97-111.
  6.  Aguirre, A., Jr. (2000). “Women and minority Faculty in the Academic Workplace: Recruitment, Retention, and Academic Culture.” ASHE-ERIC HIgher Education Report 27(6).
  7. Baez, B. (2000). “Race-related service and faculty of color: Conceptualizing critical agency in academe.” Higher Education 39(3), pp. 363-391.
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Transitioning from Master’s to PhD: changing the scene from Uruguay to Paris

Blog post by WiMIR-mentee Magdalena Fuentes

Based on my experience, I think that the WiMIR mentoring program can make a difference in how young women join the MIR community. I was first introduced to the mentoring program by Martín Rocamora (Universidad de la República), my Master’s advisor in Uruguay, the country in South America where I come from. In my country, there aren’t many people working in MIR, and when I first joined the mentoring program I wasn’t involved in the community yet. I found the idea of being in touch with experienced people from the MIR community who could talk to me about different scenarios very motivating.

During the same period that I had meetings with my mentor Ana Maria Barbancho (Universidad de Málaga, Spain), I did an internship on a MIR-related task in Paris. At that time, I was trying to decide what to do after, and all the exchanges with the people at the lab in Paris and my mentor were very enriching. The different points of view were valuable for getting an idea of what the MIR community was like and what I really wanted to do. Being in contact with my mentor was helpful because I could discuss things from another point of view, complementing the other opinions people offered. After my internship, I enrolled in a PhD program in France, and I’m currently working in MIR at the labs L2S (CentraleSupélec) and LTCI (Télécom ParisTech).

The MIR mentoring program itself offers a wide and interesting context for discussion. The topics that were proposed for the meetings (life/work balance, academic career, etc) are issues that are relevant to our daily life but in my experience they are not commonly discussed as they should. So it was very nice to have the opportunity to talk about these topics with an experienced person who also has similar interests to mine. Furthermore, there is also room for technical discussions and exchanges, which is a great help for someone who is starting in the field and is generally full of doubts. I’m currently taking part in the second round of the program with a different mentor, Justin Salamon (New York University), and once again it has been a very enriching exchange for which I’m very grateful.

Initiatives like the WiMIR mentoring program encourage diversity in the MIR community and stimulate young researchers to get more involved in the field. I think it’s worth starting more enterprises like this, in particular those encouraging the participation of both male and female young researchers from places where the MIR community is not yet strongly present.

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“Finding courage in encouragement” by Amy V Beeston (WiMIR mentee)

Post by Amy V Beeston, one of the mentees of our mentoring program:

I am happy to have been invited by Women in MIR to blog about a recent paper, co-authored with Lucy Cheesman and Liz Dobson, which I presented at the last Digital Music Research Network (DMRN) meeting in London. Our paper reported on a community-building project underway in the north of England, which aims to support and encourage women and girls in (and into) academic and industrial careers relating to music technology.

We were recently awarded a Catalyst: Festival of Creativity grant as part of a city-wide Year of Making celebration in Sheffield. This allowed us to run a series of 8 expert-led workshops, peer-learning maker-space days and a monthly social gathering. These provided ongoing opportunities for women and girls who may have felt excluded or uncomfortable in male-dominated environments to meet, share knowledge formally and informally, and thereby develop their technical and creative skills. Averaging 10 registrations per workshop, our sessions covered a wide range of topics: sound synthesis, machine listening, performance hardware, electronic prototyping, live coding, data sonification, looping and DJing. Despite being labelled as beginners’ workshops, over two-thirds of participants reported some pre-existing familiarity with the topic through their work or studies. Though participants’ lack of confidence was further apparent in their self-rated knowledge of the topic on arrival to the workshop, by the end of the session, these scores had improved in every case (Beeston et al., 2016).

It is clear from the statistics that more work to encourage women and girls is needed in the UK as well as elsewhere. UK national and international publication patterns, for instance, look very similar. We found that female-led contributions to DMRN meetings averaged around 12% of all contributions in the period 2011 to 2015 (Beeston et al., 2016), comparable to the 14% level reported internationally at recent ISMIR conferences (Hu et al., 2016). Indeed, since so few girls have been applying to study music technology in recent years (Born and Devine, 2015) or have been following careers in related industries (see e.g. female:pressure’s recent reports), a lot of energy is being spent now, worldwide, on discussions of gender and diversity in our field.

Being one of many women with an interest in both music and technology, I am of course very happy to add my own energy to this movement. But on a personal level, I felt somewhat underqualified to tell this story: I have worked with sound all my life, not with questions of gender and diversity! Nonetheless, I felt it was important to present our work at DMRN – speaking to a room comprised mostly of men – since we otherwise risk the issue being viewed as a ‘women’s problem’ rather than a problem to be tackled by our research community as a whole.

I hope therefore that our DMRN presentation will provide a useful starting point for a fruitful discussion about what the UK research community as a whole can do to help provide greater support for women and girls both entering and staying in this field. Furthermore, I am pleased to share our story with the international community too via this WiMIR blogpost, and hope that the community-building approach we have followed with the Yorkshire Sound Women Network may provide a useful model for others to adopt in order to increase the participation of women and girls in sound and music technology in other localities.

REFERENCES

Born, G. and Devine, K. (2015). Music technology, gender, and class: Digitization, educational and social change in Britain. Twentieth-Century Music, 12(02), 135–172.

Hu, X., Choi, K., Lee, J. H., Laplante, A., Hao, Y., Cunningham, S. J., & Downie, J. S. (2016). WiMIR – An informetric study on women authors in ISMIR. In Proc. 17th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, 765–771.

Beeston, A.V., Cheesman, L. and Dobson, E. D. (2016). Community-building to support and encourage women and girls in music technology. Digital Music Research Network One-day Workshop (DMRN+11), London, 20 Dec.

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Mentoring round 2017 is about to start!

After matching 50 mentees and mentors, we are ready to start the mentoring round in 2017 soon! Happy mentoring!

WiMIR mentoring 2017 participants

Mentoring Program Committee

  • Emilia Gómez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Blair Kaneshiro, Stanford University, US
  • Anja Volk, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Our 50 mentees reside in Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, UK, US. They range from high school student to associate professor, and represent a diverse field of interests and backgrounds, such as machine learning, digital signal processing, computer music, computer science, music theory, computational musicology, music psychology, music performance, music and mathematics,  music perception and cognition, computational ethnomusicology, composition, computational neuroscience, digital media, information science and human computer interaction.

We thank our generous mentors for dedicating their time to this program:

  • Jack Atherton, CCRMA, Music Department, Stanford University, US
  • Ana M. Barbancho, Universidad de Málaga, Spain
  • Isabel Barbancho, Universidad de Malaga, Spain
  • Juan Pablo Bello, New York University, US
  • Ching-Wei Chen, Spotify, US
  • Ching-Hua Chuan, University of North Florida, US
  • Andrea Cogliati, University of Rochester, US
  • Tom Collins, Lehigh University, US
  • Sally Jo Cunningham, Waikato University, New Zealand
  • Georgi Dzhambazov, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Douglas Eck, Google Brain, US
  • Deborah Egan, DINA, UK
  • Dan Ellis, Columbia University and Google, US
  • Philippe Esling, IRCAM, France
  • Ichiro Fujinaga, McGill University, Canada
  • Mathieu Giraud, CNRS, Université de Lille, France
  • Emilia Gómez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Fabien Gouyon, Pandora, US
  • Ryan Groves, self-employed MIR Consultant, Germany
  • Dorien Herremans, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Xiao Hu, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Eric Humphrey, Spotify, US
  • Berit Janssen, Meertens Insitute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Blair Kaneshiro, Stanford University, US
  • Thor Kell, Spotify, US
  • Katerina Kosta, Queen Mary University of London/Jukedeck, UK
  • Robin Laney, Open University, UK
  • Audrey Laplante, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • Edward Large, University of Connecticut, US
  • Jin Ha Lee, University of Washington, US
  • Alexander Lerch, Georgia Institute of Technology, US
  • David Lewis, University of Oxford, UK
  • Cynthia Liem, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • Brian McFee, New York University, US
  • David Meredith, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Emilio Molina, BMAT, Spain
  • Meinard Mueller, International Audio Laboratories Erlangen, Germany
  • Oriol Nieto, Pandora, US
  • Dimitri Papageorgiou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Preeti Rao, IIT–Bombay, India
  • Iris Ren, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • Spencer Russell, MIT Media Lab, US
  • Justin Salamon, New York University, US
  • Markus Schedl, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Sertan Şentürk, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Amina Shabbeer, Amazon Music, US
  • Jeffrey Smith, Smule, US
  • Jordan Smith, AIST, Japan
  • Ajay Srinivasamurthy, Idiap Research Institute, Switzerland
  • Mi Tian, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Derek Tingle, SoundCloud, US
  • Doug Turnbull, Ithaca College, US
  • George Tzanetakis, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Rafael Valle, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, US
  • Makarand Velankar, MKSSS’s Cummins College of Engineering, Pune, India
  • Gissel Velarde, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Vladimir Viro, Peachnote GmbH, Germany
  • Anja Volk, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • Luwei Yang, Queen Mary University London, UK
  • Eva Zangerle, University of Innsbruck, Austria
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WiMIR exciting news

WiMIR group is quite active at the moment!!!

  • WiMIR now has an official Twitter account, @Women_MIR. Please follow us to receive updates on the WiMIR mentoring program, ISMIR travel grants, and other initiatives supporting diversity in the field. Feel free to direct tweets to @Women_MIR as well, and we will spread the word!
  • We are starting the next round of our mentoring program, and we are looking for mentors and mentees to sign up before December 11th. More info in our mentoring program page.
  • Iris Ren and Julia Wilkins joined WiMIR as student volunteers, welcome to the team!
  • Our WiMIR representatives at ISIMIR 2017: Jin Ha Lee, Preeti Rao, and Zhongzhe Xiao More details here.

Greetings,

The WiMIR team

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“WiMIR mentorship programme” by Iris Yuping Ren, one of our mentees

Post by Iris Yuping Ren, one of the mentees of our mentoring program about her experience:

Thanks to Anja Volk who invited me to write about my experience on the WIMIR mentorship programme. I’m Iris Yuping Ren, a PhD student at the University of Rochester. I play the violin for fun and I studied mathematics and complex system science for my Bachelor and Masters. I’m now working in the Audio Information Research (AIR) lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department. You can find out more about me here.

I still remember that, when I was signing up for this programme, I was 80% excited and curious about:

  • What is a mentorship programme? (since I’ve never been in one)
  • What kind of person will be my mentor?
  • How will the programme help me?
  • etc.

but also 20% uncertain about whether I should be involved

  • Will there be extra workload for me?
  • What if the conversations go wrong?
  • etc.

Taking a weighted average of the pros and cons, I decided to join anyway! And now I’m glad that I did that.

After filling in the sign-up sheet for the programme, I got an email about a few weeks later. I was assigned a mentor: Oriol Nieto, Scientist at Pandora. I was filled with joy: I like Pandora very much! I wanted to know more about the company, more about what research they do that made this guy choose the company and be choosen by them. Plus, the Committee was very considerate in the introduction email, providing a set of questions for us to talk about. I felt silly that I worried about the nothing-to-talk-about-first-time-Skyping embarrassment.

Oriol and I were then in contact, and had our first Skype a few days later. I was amazed by how the conversation was just flowing between us: from basic introduction to academical questions to considerations for the future. An hour of Skyping felt short! And that doesn’t happen much.

Till now, Oriol and I have had 4 very nice sessions over Skype. Sometimes there are glitches from the internet connections (that’s about all I can complain about), but every time I had such a great time chatting and learning with him. I could write the details of each Skype session, but I guess it won’t offer much since they differ a lot from other mentors and mentees. But I think a more common thing is that I feel lots of support from a knowledgeable and experienced someone who works in the same field and cares about more things than just their work. I can’t speak for everybody, but it was great for me to experience that!