Recap: ‘Women of Influence – Pioneers and Change Makers’

Women of SIGGRAPH Conversations and the ACM SIGGRAPH History Committee were thrilled to host a conversation between five women who have been instrumental in the development of computer graphics and the history of SIGGRAPH, and who are blazing new trails as the industry evolves. The panel marked the end of Women’s History Month on 31 March.

Maxine Brown, Marie-Paule Cani, Maureen Stone, and Rebecca Strzelec joined moderator Adele Newton to talk about their academic and career journeys, the importance of mentorship, and their beginnings in computer graphics and SIGGRAPH.

The conversation was a fascinating exploration of how research and career directions change based on advice and guidance from good mentors. Each participant was able to cite an event — participating in an early SIGGRAPH conference in Philadelphia (Maxine), using 3D software to design jewelry (Rebecca), serving as a substitute on a review committee (Maureen), or attending their first SIGGRAPH conference as a student (Marie-Paule) — that were turning points in their career paths. Memorable career and SIGGRAPH achievements included the report on “Visualization in Scientific Computing”, co-authored by Maxine Brown, Maureen Stone’s book “A Field Guide to Digital Color”, Rebecca Strzelec chairing of the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference, and Marie-Paule Cani’s restructuring of the Technical Papers Committee in 2017 to include significant representation by women. The session ended with advice for young women seeking careers in science and math.

The conversation, which can be viewed here, provides a rare glimpse into the personal stories of inspirational women, a view into the history of SIGGRAPH and computer graphics, and guidance for the next generation of women in the industry.

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