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Future Digileaders event attracted researchers from all continents

This was the third edition of Future Digileaders, supported by Digital Futures, for selected early-career researchers interested in the broad area of digitalization who identify as women or are non-binary. The workshop included a brilliant keynote talk by Professor Luigina Ciolfi, panel discussions, opinions and questions shared by an enthusiastic audience from all the continents.

Just like last year there was quite a number of applicants to the event, and 67 individuals were accepted. Participants were based in the Nordic countries, Europe and the UK, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Most were postdocs or senior PhD students, but there were also some newly hired assistant professors (or equivalent). Applicants came mainly from human-computer interaction and several branches of design, but also a smaller number from human-robot interaction, security, privacy, automation, energy, education, digital humanities, civic tech, AI, and image processing, among others.

The chair of the event, Marianela Ciolfi Felice, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, opened the Zoom-based event followed by Anna König Jerlmyr, Mayor City of Stockholm that welcomed the participants with an introductory talk.

In her keynote talk “Navigating multidisciplinary waters without a compass (and live to tell the tale)”, Luigina Ciolfi (Professor in Human-Computer Interaction, School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork in Ireland) emphasized the importance of cultivating strong bonds within and across research groups, which implies learning to recognize one’s own unique contribution and valuing all the ‘invisible work’ that goes into building and taking care of these collaborations. Professor Ciolfi’s research focuses on practices and human experience of digital technologies. She has a strong interest in participatory methodologies and in studying the collaborative design of technology.

After this much appreciated keynote, a cloud-based collaboration tool was used for an ice-breaking activity and to encourage participation in the panels. The rest of the afternoon hosted panels with focus on three different topics: Navigating academia and industry; What to expect from an academic career; and Leadership and re-thinking the academic life.

Marianela and co-organizers recognized some key take-aways from the panels: the need of finding what is right for you rather than chasing a generic notion of success, the importance of joy in research and collaboration, and the challenge of making visible the work that goes into translating one’s skills to others’ with different strengths.

– It was great to see the Zoom chat always active with questions and interactions between the Digileaders and with the speakers (most of whom stayed the whole event!), concludes Marianela Ciolfi Felice.