Date Posted: 3/22/2019

The Cornell Daily Sun has recently featured an article celebrating advances by female scientists at Cornell, highlighting for special commendation CS Professor Carla Gomes and CS Professor Éva Tardos (March 8, 2019 by Sophie Reynolds, Catherine Cai, and Caroline Chang).

As part of acknowledging International Women’s Day and, we might add, #WomenInScience, the authors note that Cornell University has a long history of prominent and influential female scientists, among them Barbara McClintock (’27), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983.

The recipient of two ten-million-dollar Expeditions in Computing grants from the National Science Foundation and founder of the Institute for Computational Sustainability [ICS and CompSusNet], Carla Gomes is at the forefront of advances in artificial intelligence and  computational sustainability, offering computational solutions to questions involving a range of vital matters concerning sustainable development ranging from poverty mitigation and wildlife conservation to clean renewable energy.

In addition to her research, Gomes is a steadfast proponent of finding ways to encourage women to participate in and practice science. “When we automate systems,” she notes, “we are implicitly making the machines make decisions, and so it is good to have a variety of perspectives.” Adding: “Of course, women have very interesting and different perspectives.”

Éva Tardos, meanwhile, works in algorithmic game theory and has long-standing collaborations with different fields and faculty (including economics) and scientific communities, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Economics and Computation, which was held last year at Cornell and this year will convene in Phoenix.

Tardos points out that over the history of our field “the number of women getting involved in computer science has not steadily risen like in many other STEM fields.” But the trend has now reversed, she adds, “and we are doing much better in attracting women to the field.” And Cornell is ahead of the national trend: for example, the engineering freshmen interested in computer science now have one-to-one ratio of men-to-women ratio, matching Engineering’s overall ratio. 

As the authors report: “Tardos hopes that this generation of women does not underestimate the excitement of being a computer scientist at a research university.”