News | DOI: 10.1145/1409360.1409368
making a Difference
The Grace Hopper Celebration featured technical talks,
workshops, networking events, and lively discussions about
increasing the number of women in computer science.
We’re TryiNg To reflect
how women think
says Deanna Kosaraju,
vice president of programs at the Anita Borg Institute, of
the 2008 Grace Hopper Celebration
of Women in Computing. The conference, co-founded by Anita Borg and
Telle Whitney in 1994 and inspired by
the legacy of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, balances a broad range of
technical talks with professional and
personal forums in an attempt to address the interests of women in computing. This year’s theme, “We Build a
Better World,” took a holistic approach,
emphasizing cooperation, teamwork,
and the ability to make a difference.
Nearly 1,450 women from 22 countries
came together this October for the
four-day meeting in Keystone, CO.
This year, in order to help attendees get to know each other, organizers
coordinated a variety of networking
events during the first two days of the
conference. A workshop with leadership coach Jo Miller explored how networking can help women recession-proof their careers; the event was filled
to capacity with more than 400 attendees. Both structured and unstructured
networking events followed, including
a women of color luncheon and a special meeting for first-time attendees,
enabling women to put their newly
learned skills to the test. Meanwhile, a
résumé clinic gave 160 women an opportunity to chat with 40 industry HR
representatives and get advice on their
“It was a great way to break the ice,”
explains Anne Condon, conference
chair and professor of computer science
at the University of British Columbia.
To help women manage their networking goals, the CONNECT project
enabled interested attendees to keep
track of who they’d met with special
scannable barcodes that automatically
anne condon introduces fran allen, the first woman to win the a.m. turing award, to the
audience at the Grace hopper celebration of Women in computing conference.
logged meetings between faculty, stu- nology, and their own personal experi-dents, and industry representatives. ences. Other technical talks included
Daily email messages summarized the presentations on Hewlett-Packard’s
connections each participant had made “skinware” drug delivery technology,
and included strategies to help them emerging energy technologies, data
make the best use of their time; more mining, and multi-robot intelligence.
than 16,000 connections were logged Mary Lou Jepson, CTO of Pixel Qi, also
over the course of the conference. So- discussed her experiences with One
cialnetworkingtechnologieslikeblogs, Laptop Per Child, a global project to
tweets, and Facebook also helped at- provide underprivileged children with
tendees keep track of one another, and new educational opportunities.
sometimes plan collaborations before “From a technical perspective, it’s a
they’d even reached the conference. great place to get a broad view of what’s
“People have various ways of com- going on,” says Condon. Yet as diffi-municating, and we try to leverage cult as it is to convey the breadth of the
that,” says Kosaraju. conference program, it’s even harder,
Another new event this year was the attendees and organizers agree, to
CTO Forum, a series of panels, lunch- describe just how exciting the atmo-es, and roundtable discussions that sphereis.
gave the female chief technical officers “Very successful women are willing
from Xerox, Intel, and other leading to talk to people who are just starting
technology companies an opportunity out,” says Emily Fortuna, a senior at
to talk about topics of interest to the Rice University. “It’s a very uniting ex-computing community. Among the perience.”
subjects they explored were strategies
to increase the number of women in
computer science, the future of tech-
Pho Togra Ph by kimbErLy bLEssiNg
based in brooklyn, Ny, Leah Hoffmann writes about
science and technology.