11 July 2017: Seminar by Mahsa Mohaghegh, AUT, "Have you ever been part of a minority?"



Dr. Mahsa Mohaghegh is a computer engineer with a background in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. She obtained her PhD from Massey University with a thesis in Statistical Machine Translation.

Prior to joining AUT, Mahsa was a Senior Lecturer and Program Leader at Unitec, and also lead an outreach effort within the Department of Computing there. After being awarded Google’s Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship in 2012, Mahsa became involved with Google’s Computer Science for High Schools initiative, and successfully applied for Google funding to run these workshops in Auckland for the last 3 years.

Mahsa is also the founder and director of the women’s technology group She# - shesharp.co.nz, a platform aimed at promoting STEM to the next generation, and creating networking opportunities for tertiary students and industry professionals in the digital sector. Her passion for promoting careers in technology to young women has been recognised by a number of organisations, and resulted in her being awarded at the Westpac Women of Influence Awards.



The gender gap prevalent in most computer science, software engineering and other technology fields has become increasingly highlighted in recent years. The severity of the situation becomes more apparent when large companies take significant measures to address it, such as Google’s public announcement of their dedication of US$50M over a three year period to be used to invest in promoting these areas to females. Regardless of the cause, it is almost unanimously agreed that a more gender-balanced tech sector would provide significant benefits across the board – to both male and female alike. Diversity is vital for innovation to be brought to its peak, particularly as large-scale innovation efforts end up being used by an increasingly diverse world. Representing diversity at development level is paramount for increased success.

AUT Information Technology and Software Engineering lecturer Dr. Mahsa Mohaghegh has been working to address the gender diversity issue in technology for a number of years. Mahsa founded She# (pronounced “She Sharp”) in June 2014. She# is a non-profit networking group for high school girls, female tertiary students and industry professionals. She#’s goal is to connect technology students to ICT companies by creating networking events where they can meet. Companies have the chance to promote positions to prospective future employees, and students have the opportunity to make valuable industry contacts. The events help promote STEM fields to high school girls, and help them to make contact with female role models in the industry.

Come and hear more from Mahsa about her own experiences as a woman in this field, her journey with She#, and how you can be involved in making a difference.