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!
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!
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com 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!
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.