Women in STEM Talk

On July 6, the UT Austin Portugal Program organized a talk about Women in STEM at the headquarters of INESC TEC and open to anyone with a genuine interest in gender-related matters.

In a very informal, relaxed and open-minded setting, Ana Freitas from AMONET (Portuguese Association for Women in Science) and Melyssa Fratkin from Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin shared insights about a topic which is nothing but light: women’s representation in science, in particular in STEM fields. Ana focused on the underrepresentation of women in STEM in Portugal and Melyssa gave the audience a picture of the situation in High-Performance Computing in industry, academia and government across the state of Texas, respectively.

The event was structured to favour discussion between the two speakers and the audience, predominantly composed of women – perhaps an indication that in the gender debate, women remain the most affected by gender biases.

Both Ana and Melyssa agreed that women have been making their way to gain more visibility and take leadership roles in areas of science historically reserved for men. Nevertheless, gender stereotypes, educational models, male-dominated cultures and fewer role models are some of the factors perpetuating the gender gap and preventing modern societies from becoming more equitable and fairer.

About the Speakers

Melyssa Fratkin is the Industrial Programs Director at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin. In this role, she oversees TACC’s corporate partnerships and government relations activities. Melyssa focuses on developing and managing strong collaborations between industry and academia with the Science & Technology Affiliates for Research (STAR) program. Melyssa is the founding co-chair of Texas Women in HPC, an organization aimed at supporting women and minorities in high-performance computing in industry, academia and government across the state of Texas, by engaging in initiatives to raise awareness and broaden diversity in HPC. She also serves as Communications Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on High-Performance Computing (SIGHPC).  Melyssa received a BA from Rutgers University and MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Ana Costa Freitas is the President of the Portuguese Association of Women in Science and a Full Professor of the Department of Plant Science at the University of Évora. She holds a Bachelor’s in Agronomy from the University of Lisbon and a PhD in Food Biotechnology from the University of Évora. Currently, she is a member of the European Woman Rectos Association and a High-level expert of Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF). From 2014 to 2022 she was the Rector of the University of Évora. From 2011 to 2013, she was an Adviser at the Bureau of European Policy Advisers of the European Commission.

Graça Barbosa was born in Braga, where she concluded her secondary education. She graduated in Law by the School of Law of University of Coimbra, in 1986. In December 1990, she joined INESC as a legal adviser. From 1996 to 2014, she was the Head of the Department of Information and Logistics, which remained a central support service after INESC Porto’s autonomy, in 1998. Since 2014, she is an Executive Advisor to the Board for the Management Support. She was also the head of Human Resources until the end of 2019 and the Head of Legal Support Service until 2021. From 2017 to 2021, she was a member of the Committee for Conflicts of Interest Management, and from 2019-2021, a member of the Working Group for Gender Balance + Diversity & Inclusion. She was elected as a member of the Board of Directors for the mandate 2021-2023, having diversity and inclusion, and gender equality, as well as ethics, conflict of interest management, legal support, risk management and compliance as her main areas of responsibility.

Agenda (all hours in mainland Portugal’s local time)

Time Title Speaker
4.00 p.m. Opening Remarks Graça Barbosa, INESC TEC
4.05 p.m. Women in STEM in Portugal: Where we are and where we want to be Ana Costa Freitas, AMONET
4.25 p.m. Women in Advanced Computing: Leveling the Playing Field Melyssa Fratkin, TACC, UT Austin
5.10 p.m. Moderated Q&A
5.25 p.m. Wrap-up