[Fsf-friends] Workshop for women researchers - run up to NCAR 2010

sarath ms sarath.ms at gmail.com
Sun Nov 28 00:04:56 IST 2010

Hi friends,

Swecha organized a workshop for women researchers and academicians on the
theme 'Women in Research - the FOSS paradigm' on Friday 26th November. The
workshop was attended by around 165 women working as lecturers, professors
and researchers in various engineering and MCA colleges. It was inaugurated
by the Vice-Chancellor of JNTU Hyderabad Dr. D. N. Reddy who encouraged
women to participate in research and also appreciated the efforts by Swecha
in propagating the use of FOSS and wished it success in further endeavors
like NCAR 2010.

The keynote address was given by Prof. Jayanthi Sivaswamy from IIIT
Hyderabad, who is the All India coordinator of the Virtual Labs project of
MHRD and heads the Center for IT in Education. She put forward two reasons
to consider use of FOSS. One, from the social justice point of view as
proprietary software cuts access to lakhs of people who cannot afford the
high cost of that software. Two, use of FOSS also makes economic sense as it
encourages and involves many more people in the process and thus would be
good for the economy of the country. As for concrete application of FOSS in
research, she gave the example of how FOSS was much superior in usage for
her while developing virtual labs for science. The idea of virtual labs for
science was prompted by the lack of proper labs and infrastructure in most
of the schools and colleges in Hyderabad. The IIIT is involved in developing
these labs and now the union ministry of HRD is asking for similar virtual
labs to be developed for engineering colleges also. She pointed out that the
use of FOSS in such research projects is growing not only in India but
across the world.

Prof. K S Rajan of IIIT said that knowledge can grow only when it is shared
with others and free software provides the platform for such sharing and
enriching of knowledge. In this context he emphasised the importance of peer
learning and how it is important to do so at every level of education. He
felt that FOSS platform enables the academics and researchers to be updated
in their knowledge about their spheres.

The workshop had presentations on 'Computing freedom with free software –
the Experience of Swecha' by Dr L Pratap Reddy of JNTU Hyd who is also the
working chairman of Swecha; a presentation on 'How to use FOSS for research
and development' by Ms. Sirisha of Wipro Technologies. There were also
testimonials by women from various institutes who used FOSS in their
research work and how it helped them to accomplish their goals.

The participants set forward an action plan which included setting up FOSS
labs in their colleges, creation of Lab Manuals for FOSS tools, conducting
workshops for other faculty and students, participating in localization of
free software etc.

More info & photos at http://ncar2010.fsmi.in/women-researchers-workshop

Sarath M S
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