Sign-ups open for WiMIR mentoring round 2019

For preparing the fourth round of the Women in Music Information Retrieval (WiMIR) mentoring program, to begin in January 2019,  we kindly invite previous and new mentors and mentees to sign up  through the following signup forms:

Sign up to GET a mentor in 2019 here: http://bit.ly/2Ns8ulj

Sign up to BE a mentor in 2019 here: http://bit.ly/2Da6ZTZ

Signups close Nov 30, 2018. Mentor/mentee matches will be announced in January 2019.

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. The program offers to all mentors the option to pair up with a peer mentor for discussing relevant topics with a professional at a similar stage of their career.  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 2019.

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.

More information on the program

General information: https://wimir.wordpress.com/mentoring-program/ 

Report on the mentoring round in 2017:  http://bit.ly/2yuWS5i

Report on the mentoring round in 2018:  https://bit.ly/2P5pBG3

Questions? Email wimir-mentoring@ismir.net 

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

The WiMIR Mentoring Program Committee

Johanna Devaney, Ryan Groves, Blair Kaneshiro, and Anja Volk

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

wimir_poster_website_jpg

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.

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

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

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)

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.

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!