Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Inclusive Logic Day by Nastassja Pugliese

This is an Invited Post by Nastassja Pugliese, Assistant Professor at UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The day of inclusive logic (#ShutDownLogic) was proposed in the context of the #ShutDownStem, #ShutDownAcademia, #Strike4BlackLives movement as a day to stop research and put together a plan of action to end systemic racism in academia. On June 10th, 2020, members of the Logic Supergroup, an international group of logicians belonging to different departments in different Universities, hosted a 24 hours long event to work together on academic accountability and on specific tasks to address racial inequality in logic. The day was divided into slots that specific researchers decided to use for different kinds of discussions.

During the meeting, there was a consensus that logic, as most of Academia, has a long history of inequalities that contributes to the view that it is an exclusionary discipline espousing racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. Because the main historical figures, acting professionals and researchers that gain recognition are white and male, logic as a discipline and as a practice is a key academic space to be occupied with explicit anti-racist initiatives. 

The slot we occupied was hosted by Valeria de Paiva, Elaine Pimentel, Gisele Secco, and myself. We focused on making two points: raise geopolitical awareness for how racism expresses itself differently across cultures, and suggest that some practices put forward by the Women in Logic, such as collection and publication of demographic and diversity data, can also be undertaken for BIPOC in logic. 

I started by pointing out that the talk of race in Brazil is still taboo and racial self-identification is full of misunderstandings. Our history as a racial “melting pot” was used to espouse the wrong view that Brazil is a racial democracy, making it harder for a collective recognition of our share of systemic racism.

Given our history of miscegenation, racism operates together with colorism. Colorism tells that there is a direct relationship between the strength of the violence one suffers and the degree of darkness of one's skin tone: light-skin blacks/mestiços are more easily accepted and suffer less oppression than dark-skin blacks. This layering of skin-tones and the associated prejudices contributes to a massive problem in self-identification for there is a tendency of mestiços (“pardos”) to consider themselves (and be treated) as whites. This problem of racial self-identification is a result of structural racism, of taking advantage of the privilege of being of a lighter color, but also of misinformation about race and history. This self-identification problem, if not solved, will continue to feed racism because it is an underlying cause of its systematic nature. 

I illustrated the problem with the graph above representing the number of PhD students in Philosophy, in Brazil, in 2018 according to the markers of gender and race (source CAPES open data, open data made available by CAPES, the Brazilian governmental institution that keeps track of post-graduate students, online at https://dadosabertos.capes.gov.br/dataset/2017-a-2020-docentes-da-pos-graduacao-stricto-sensu-no-brasil): 

The graphic tells us a lot, including that the demographic situation of black men (“homem negro”) is worse than that of white women (“mulher branca”) and of mixed-race men and women (“homem pardo” and “mulher parda”). This is a topic to be further investigated and discussed.  But the self-identification problem I pointed out before is evidenced in two categories in the graphic: “não dispõe de informação” (no information given) and “não declarado” (not declared). These categories represent the majority of the students. It is symptomatic, in my view, that around 56% of the totality of students (906 out of 1,598) either chose not to declare their race or the data gathering structure somehow could not inform their racial identification. Breaking the total of PhD students into a gendered analysis we have that 51% of the PhD male students (683 out of 1,338) chose either not to give their racial information or the system could not gather this information about them. In the group of women, the percentage is the same (51%), so out of 431 PhD students, we lack information for 223 of them. 

We think it is high time to further stimulate and consolidate the racial self-identification talk in Brazilian academia and the logic community. For a start, we have to recognize that the experience of race is different for each social group and assume that the racial experience of another might be incommensurable with your own racial experience. This also means not treating all BIPOC as if they were a homogeneous group with a single history of oppression. Hence, in discussing racial inequality we should be careful (1) not to appropriate a specific fight to promote another group’s agenda, and (2) not to add minority groups together to make a more palatable (and conservative) demand. Expressing solidarity and walking together is only a powerful political strategy when we recognize and continue to be aware that some minorities “pass” more easily than others, i.e., have privilege in relation to other minority groups. 

Finally, as part of this diverse group of Brazilian women logicians acting on distinct areas of logic, I would like to further engage in one more topic:

Curriculum development: What we do depends on how we learned to do it. It is high time we focus on logic education and the dynamics of the classroom space. Problems such as stereotype threat and the solo effect contribute to a climate in the classroom that is detrimental for the growth of BIPOC. We should look for an interdisciplinary approach to logic in courses where students can specifically learn the history and discuss diversity. Hence, it is important, as highlighted during the event, to have more scholars engaging in the history of logic in order to localize racist, sexist, and xenophobic claims in the given authors. The goal is to dissociate these arguments from the image of the field of logic so as to improve the structure and the professional experience for diverse students and professionals.

Finally, during our talk in the inclusive logic day, we recalled some practices put forward by the Women in Logic initiative and suggested that it would be important, for the sake of accountability, to collect and publish demographic and diversity data. We also talked about keeping track of BIPOC that have been invited for key conferences and that are part of societies and associations. The idea here is to build our collective memory and make sure we recognize their work properly.

This topic deserves another blog post, so I will end here. For now, if you got interested, you can read former posts on this blog to get informed on the initiatives that have been happening so far. And please share these initiatives with people that will benefit from knowing that they are not alone.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Logic and Biology: last year's Women in Logic

I'm afraid last year's workshop Women in Logic was a bit a blur with too many things happening there and elsewhere in my life. Now, while looking at writing a report on it I realized that I have not posted the slides of our Invited Speaker Professor Anne Condon, from the University of British Columbia. 

Here are the slides of her talk: "Computing with Molecules". I found the work and the talk very beautiful and now (with the coronavirus emergency) eerily inspiring. Mathematics and logic have lots to say about Biology, much more than I had expected. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Better Late than never: WiL2019

I'm afraid last year's Women in Logic was a bit a blur with too many things happening there and elsewhere in my life. Now, while looking at some other stuff (i.e. trying to write a report) I realized that I have not posted the slides of our Invited Speaker Professor Zena M. Ariola, from the University of Oregon, which I did ask for and was given immediately. oh dear, shame on me!

Here are the slides of Zena M. Ariola's talk. "The Impact of Duality" changed itself to "The interplay between Logic and Computation", which is a great title for our workshop. I found the work and the talk super interesting and inspiring. Shame there were so many things happening during those weeks and I couldn't talk more to Zena, there will be more time later on, I hope.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Data we have and data we want

Women in Logic 2020 is part of “Paris Nord Summer of LoVe 2020“, a joint event on LOgic and VErification at Université Paris 13, made of Petri Nets 2020, IJCAR 2020, FSCD 2020, and over 20 satellite events. Check the webpage in  https://sites.google.com/g.uporto.pt/wil2020/

This is of course great news! But the point of this post is to remind everyone that we have two spreadsheets that everyone should know about. The first spreadsheet started by Catarina Dutilh Novaes, is a compilation of women working with logic, available at this google doc

The second spreadsheet, carefully manually compiled by Brigitte Pientka and collaborators, show us the number and gender of Invited speakers in many of the main conferences that relate Logic to Computer Science. This impressive document, which needs to be better known and also needs to be completed is in this other google doc.

Now maybe we should try to count the number of female PC members over the years and the number of accepted papers who had female co-authors. I don't know if this will help improve matters, but more information is always good.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Round Table Women in Logic at EBL (Encontro Brasileiro de Logica)

Guest blog post by Gisele Secco (https://ufsm.academia.edu/gdsecco), pictures taken by Marcia Falcao, chosen by Valeria Paiva.

During the 19th Brazilian Logic Conference, held in João Pessoa, 6-10 May 2019, the Brazilian Logic Society (EBL in the Brazilian acronym) opened a space for discussions about the presence of women and the variety of challenges they face in  Logic, especially in Brazil.

Valeria de Paiva (who wrote briefly about the talk here), Elaine Pimentel, Claudia Nalon and I participated in a round table entitled “Women in Logic (in Brazil)”, in a room full of curious faces – mostly young researchers gladly open to what we had to say.

In the first few minutes I’ve talked about the context and the main motivations for the round table: the low presence of women in STEM and, in particular, in the field of logic, some barriers like the “inclusion by segregation” and, of course, the idea that we can act to change this unfortunate state of things. Since the audience was not composed solely by philosophers, I first gave some information about how only recently the Brazilian philosophical community awoke from its long dogmatic slumber regarding the women questions. My main point, though, was to present some ideas on how to break the “cycle of antilogic expectations” surrounding logic in the context of philosophy education in Brazil – involving High Schools and Undergraduate courses. Given some time limitations, my talk was divided into two parts, and Valeria started her participation by a video call.

Valeria started speaking about her personal experience, as a student and a researcher, and then presented the data gathered by Orna Kupferman on the presence of women in the field of Logic in Computer Science. After showing also some data collected by Claudia Bauzer and Celina Figueiredo on the decreasing presence of women in computer science, as well as the distribution of CNPq scholarships amongst women and men, Valeria presented some initiatives aiming to change this reality. As you readers know, Valeria heads of the project Women in Logic – a Workshop (the third edition was then about to happen in Canada), this blog and a Facebook Groupwhich she described with enthusiasm, especially regarding the positive consequences of the project. On the other hand,  the end of Valeria’s contribution contained a grain of (in my view healthy) skepticism, since she proposed a series of challenges we still need to face in order to create a gender-balanced environment for women in the field of logic. Her list included the proposition of a template for letters to be sent to organizing committees reminding them of inviting women keynote speakers, the need for an update on our lists of women in the field around the world, the “Wikipedia problem” (the fact that Wikipedia does not list many women logicians, mathematicians, and philosophers that we actually know about), the lack of collective memory about women in the field in general (I would like to add: we still don’t have a good history of women logicians!), the need  for articulation with similar groups in other fields and also the urgency of research collecting data about ourselves.

The third contribution to the round table was made by Elaine Pimentel, whose focus was the presence of women in Mathematics in Brazil and how to fight the disparities in the field. She started by presenting the data on the distribution of CNPq scholarships, and then presented the project “Girls in Mathematics”, which recently received a grant from CNPq. The main objective of the project is to stimulate girls from High Schools to know better and more mathematics, including the presence of women in its history and current practice, in order to increase their participation in the area. – We all hope that the project flourishes, Elaine! Before finishing her talk, Elaine also listed some initiatives by the mathematical Brazilian community, such as the Brazilian Meeting of Women Mathematicians and the platform (and related actions) Mathematics: feminine noun.

Claudia Nalon was the next to talk about women in Artificial Intelligence, especially Automated Deduction, the important junction to logic.

In order to conclude our presentation, I talked about the need to rethink our strategies for teaching logic as one of the main ways to show that women can do logic as well as men and, consequently,  have equal rights to living and working in the world of logic. I then made a very brief description of two experiences of “logical empowering” of High School female students (some former philosophy students of mine) realized in Porto Alegre, a couple of years ago and, finally, presented some questions we had elaborated together to start a conversation with the audience, which was great:

-       How do we call for more participation of female colleagues in our cause?
-       How to instigate more research on the pedagogical aspects of logic?
-       How to stimulate the production of more interesting pedagogical materials?
-       How do deal with the lack of sensibility for gender problems in our field (with colleagues that don’t even know their actions are problematic, to say the least)?
-       How to convince colleagues to reshape their syllabi in order to include the work of women logicians in them, showing original results of women logicians and consequently serving as role models for students?
-       How to convince organizing committees to pay attention to gender disparities?

It is worth noticing that our proposal of a round table on the issue was immediately accepted by the President of the EBL, Cezar Mortari, a few months before the Conference. We were glad for this opportunity and we firmly believe in the continuity of this support in our future endeavours.

Guest post by Gisele Secco, Professor of Philosophy at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Monday, June 17, 2019

By-Laws for Women in Logic: what and why

This is a preliminary proposal for discussion, suggested by Brigitte Pientka, Amy Felty, Alexandra Silva, and Valeria de Paiva. The proposal consists of bylaws and an initial description of how to organize Women in Logic.
The bylaws are inspired by PPDP(Principles and Practice of Declarative Programming
which is a SIGPLAN affiliated event.
The goals of the Workshop are inspired by the ones from Women in Machine Learning,
 simplifying a little their existing mission statement.

The next steps would be:
- Feedback and Discussion
- Invite everyone to the SC
- Discuss possible PC / GC chairs for WiL in 2020
- Discuss a possible location for WiL 2020
- Discuss possible format (if necessary)

Women in Logic (WIL)

WiL aims to provide a forum that brings together women working on logical foundations of computer science.
Our goal is to enhance the experience of women in logic and closely related areas, making achievements of women
in logic known to the community, and thereby increasing the number of women in logic. 
Our flagship event is the annual WiL Workshop.

WiL Symposium Bylaws

    WiL is an annual workshop.
    WiL is scheduled by a Steering Committee (SC) whose composition and function are specified in the next section.
    Each symposium has a Program Committee (PC) that is responsible for the scientific content of the program.
    Each symposium has a PC Chair that is responsible for the PC composition and cannot submit any paper.
    Each symposium has a General Chair that is responsible for the local organization, finances, publicity, and liaison 
with sponsors.
    WiL requests annually for in-cooperation status with the ACM SIGLOG.
    Modifications of these bylaws are submitted to the SC Chair and require the approval of the SC.

WiL Steering Committee (SC)

    The purpose of the SC is to ensure the long-term success of the WiL.
    The SC selects the location, date, PC and General Chairs of each symposium.
    PC and General Chair are just a useful fiction for co-chairs, who divide the work the best way they can.
    The SC consists of the PC and General Chairs of the last 3 symposia and one member of the SIGLOG 
executive committee.
    The SIGLOG representative is appointed by the chair of SIGLOG, subject to approval by the chair of the WiL 
steering committee, and ensures coordination between SIGLOG and other SIGLOG affiliated events; 
once every three years when the SIGLOG executive committee changes, the SIGLOG representative changes.
    The SC elects its own chair shortly after the end of each workshop.
    The decisions of the SC require at least 50% of the votes and a simple majority.

Initial Composition:

- Valeria de Paiva (Past WiL Chair)    (appointed until 2022)
- Amy Felty (Past WiL Chair)           (appointed until 2022)
- Alexandra Silva (SIGLOG Rep. and LMW liaison) (appointed until 2022)
- Catuscia Palamidessi                  (appointed until 2020)
- Claudia Nalon                         (appointed until 2020)
- Perdita Stevens                       (appointed until 2021)
- Brigitte Pientka                      (appointed until 2021)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Round Table Women in Logic (in Brazil)

Next week is the Encontro Brasileiro de Logic (Brazilian Logic Meeting) in Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil (https://ebl2019.ci.ufpb.br/) and a group of us (Gisele Secco, Elaine Pimental, Claudia Nalon and I) proposed a round table to discuss "Women in Logic (in Brazil)". I don't know if I will be able (via Skype) to talk at the roundtable or not, but this seems a good reason to collect some links here.

First the ones on Women in Logic, the workshop, now in its third edition in 2019.

How did it come to be?

Well, in 2013, Orna Kupferman was the program chair for LiCS, Logic in Computer Science in New Orleans, USA. Orna  talked at the business meeting about the dire straits of the situation of women in the LiCS community and I felt that only I heard her talking. The guys were drinking beer and not paying much attention (to be honest this is what people do, at most conferences' business meetings) but this was different, as Orna was explaining that not only was LiCS as bad as any other Computer Science conference,  actually it was much worse, as she could show using her numbers below.

I was incensed, but took a while to react. The first post in Women in Logic the Facebook group went up only on July 8, 2015. (So the facebook group  will be completing 4 years soon!)  Then at LiCS 2016 Shankar asked me to say a few words about the history of LiCS. Between lunch and the time of the conversation, I put together some slides, describing the issues as I saw them. The slides are in slideshare and here. In the slides I mentioned that maybe we should have a workshop Women in Logic at FLoC2018.

In fact we've managed to have the first Women in Logic workshop at LiCS 2017 in Iceland. The meeting was really nice! The talks were high quality and understandable. The presenters had put an extra effort to make themselves clear to people with different backgrounds. There was a palpable feeling  of companionship in the room, which I think the picture captures.

So we were set for Women in Logic 2018, in Oxford. This was, for me, a bit more confused, as I was supposed to be in three  workshops at the same time. Not possible, as everyone knows. But not even possible to fake it, in a reasonable way, as I discovered.

We had a very intense discussion of issues in "Priorities for Diversity in Computer Science Logic", that Prof Ursula Martin had the very hard job of organizing. She did it masterly. And then we had an extremely nice supper at Wadham College on Parks Road, Oxford. A picture at the beginning of the meeting below and one before the supper closes this blog post. A report on the meeting was published by SIGLOG, the official version is in the ACM digital library. The preprint version is a Google doc.
Now we are preparing for Women in Logic 2019 in Vancouver. The program for WiL 2019 should be coming up soon. And we have two impressive speakers lined up, Anne Condon (UBC) and  Zena Ariola (Univ. of Oregon).