Kulvinder Panesar

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fourth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Kulvinder Panesar, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2019.

Dr Kulvinder Panesar is a highly motivated, driven and strategically focused senior computing professional and an academic for over twenty years.

Her current role is a Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at the School of Art, Design and Computer Science at York St John University, and joined in January 2018. Her PhD title: ‘a linguistically centred text-based conversational software agent’, and was awarded in August 2017. It was multi-disciplinary spanning agent thinking, linguistics, computer science, computational linguistics, natural language processing (NLP), knowledge representation (KR), Semantic Web (SW), and artificial intelligence (AI). This research work was a response to explore the long-standing issue within natural language processing (NLP) conversational software agents (CSA), to investigate and refine the accuracy of the interpretation of meaning to provide a realistic dialogue to support the human-to-computer communication.

Kulvinder’s teaching experience is underpinned by Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), assessors’ award and more recently fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, composing fifteen years of undergraduate and eight years of postgraduate teaching. Further, her final year project and postgraduate supervisory has been eight and three years respectively. Teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) topics include: software engineering design patterns and development; final year and master projects, systems analysis, computer science topics, management information systems and strategy; enterprise computing and e-ecommerce strategy solution, databases and networks. Additional TLA plans for 2019-2010 include mathematics for computer scientists, data science and artificial intelligence. Additional roles include: course directorship for BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering; module leadership, project supervisor, placement co-coordinator; ‘study abroad’ academic advisor and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassadorship.

In the wider research and development space, NLP in AI, meaning and knowledge representation in conversational software agents continues to have exciting revelations due to advances in technology with AI benefits (and challenges), in particular in the Chatbot era, and hence Kulvinder is continuing post-PhD activities. These include internationally based outputs such as book chapters, journal articles and conference proceeding papers – development work supported by scholarly activities in AI, advanced machine learning and cloud solutions. She is very keen to engage in research programmes (groups) in this area, and thus to inform research-led teaching in the next few years. As a regular attendee xat meetup.com group, she enjoys local technical events, participating in discussions and pursue networking links.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

I was absolutely delighted to be included in the TechWomen100 Winners List, with such amazing and talented women. I feel very proud and am thankful to everyone who took the time to vote for me.”

These are my verbatim comment in a university -intranet news article.

“Coming from a predominately male-dominated field, I have been committed to encouraging more women into the computing/technology space for several years. There’s an increasing skills gap in the digital sector and we need to empower women and spread the word that they too can be ambitious and have successful technology careers.”

“It is an absolutely brilliant time to be celebrating Women in Technology. As an individual, I feel I have reached a level where I can say I am an expert in my field and demonstrate commitment. I am commended on my passion and enthusiasm to keep up to date in the computer science field, and continue with my niche research area – ‘natural language processing (NLP) in artificial intelligence (AI)’. From a STEM strategic perspective, the years of initiatives and programmes to encourage more women in technology, have started to materialize and reap marked increases of professional and technology driven women taking up various posts that only men had applied for about five years ago.”

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

Yes, a new article, Computer Science academic is named among top women in tech.

I leveraged this award with further a role of a Speaker Manager alongside my current AITN ambassadorship at AiTechNorth.   My role was to enable a dialogue with potential speakers who were business leaders, senior executives, and technologists, and to discuss their talks to find an amicable for the AI Summit Theme.  I have further hosted an AI Tech North – innovation exchange fringe event – AI for Business with two renowned experts on Thursday 18th June.  I feel my personal brand is developing as an academic delivering AI courses, pursuing my conversational AI research and widening my knowledge of the AI space.  My AI tech North activities I feel have enriched my academic delivery.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

I believe the awards process is empowering, and  an exciting journey, but you must be mindful it is just an award for you, and it is up to you to decide how you will leverage it.  Be realistic.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

My tip to  enhance your career is to network with a small number of people who have a similar vision to yours – enabling you move forward smartly, and  stay close to you on the  your journey  – and at one point you will be able to give back to them  in some way or form. Subsequently a  rewarding and satisfying experience.  In a nutshell be sensible and acquire quality connections; not quantitative.

The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards are open for nominations on 03 August 2020. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.