Exciting Events at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women

The 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, held in Phoenix from Oct. 8th – 10th, hit several milestones. First, conference attendance dramatically increased to 8000 attendees from 4700 in 2013. Also, the first-ever Male Allies plenary panel, with top executives from Google, Facebook, GoDaddy, and Intuit, occurred; this panel was a well-intentioned session, but created more con-troversy among the attendees than the Grace Hopper Conference attendees have ever seen. And with a remark during his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the issue of pay equality for men and women front page news and brought the conference to the attention of the world. These milestones led to several interesting hallway conversations, some of which verged on argu-ments with significantly different points of view. One thing was clear, however; most of the attendees (perhaps all) agree that we need men (and women) to solve the diversity challenges that exist. So kudos to Satya and the other top male executives for having the interest and courage to come to an event that is 95% female. And further kudos to the companies that are implementing changes in their organizations based on what transpired during this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Until women represent close to 50% of those in the computing indus-try, we need to continue these important conversations.

Another exciting event at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration was the debut of the Notable Women in Computing card deck. Created by Katy Dickinson, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and CRA-W Board member Susan Rodger (Duke University) to help publicize the CRA-W and Anita Borg Institute project to write Wikipedia pages for Notable Women in Computing, Cards may be purchased at http://www.notabletechnicalwomen.org/.

Since 2009 CRA-W has helped provide career mentoring content for attendees interested in academic and industrial research at the undergraduate, graduate, early career, and mid-senior career levels. Designed to be “bite-sized” versions of our longer work-shops, including the Grad Cohort Workshop and Career Mentoring Workshops, our programs at Grace Hopper allow us to reach hundreds of attendees with career advice and make them aware of the additional programs CRA-W offers.

The CRA-W mentoring sessions took place on the afternoon of Oct 8th. For undergraduates, CRA-W staffed tables in the Student Opportunity Lab on four different topics: Undergraduate Research Experience, What Happens in Graduate School, How to Get Accepted to Graduate School, and Master’s or Ph.D.? The Anita Borg Institute introduced the Student Opportunity Lab format in 2013 and continued it this year due to its popularity. The Lab is a large conference room with about 50 tables, each with different topics and 1-2 mentors. Short 20 minute sessions allow small groups of students to have interactive discussions with mentors at many different tables over the four-hour Student Opportunity Lab session. CRA-W Board member Andrea Danyluk (Williams College) coordinated our tables and recruited our 26 talented mentors. Mentors included graduate students who have participated in CRA-W programs previously, as well as speakers from our other sessions; the forum provides a fun way for more women to share their experiences with others. Table mentors frequently tell us that these small group interactions are one of their favorite parts of the Grace Hopper Celebration.

The CRA-W track for Graduate Students focuses on helping attendees succeed in graduate school with three sessions: “Graduate School Survival Skills”, presented by Jamika Burge (Smarter Balanced at UCLA) and Rachel Pottinger (University of British Columbia), “Building Your Professional Persona”, presented by Patty Lopez (Intel) and Jaime Teevan (Microsoft Research), and “Building Your Professional Network” presented by Elizabeth Bautista (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) and Raquell Holmes (Boston University). These sessions are consistently popular at Grace Hopper, as illustrated by over 200 attendees in each session this year.