Grace Hopper Celebration Sparks Determination in Young Women in Tech

Grace Hopper Celebration Sparks Determination in Young Women in Tech

The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world's largest gathering of women technologists. Every year, students, scholars, and industry professionals from across the globe GHC to grow their skills, further their careers, and share their expertise with others. Sessions, workshops, and other opportunities help students gain essential knowledge, network with their peers, and meet hiring managers from all over the globe The event is named for Grace Hopper, a computer programmer who helped develop a compiler that was a precursor to the widely used COBOL language. Her legacy has been to encourage young people to learn how to program. This year, GHC was held in Orlando in early October. Below are selections from reflections from our iSchool student participants, highlighting the impact that programs like these can have on young women in fields of technology:

“I feel very lucky that I got the chance to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration with a scholarship from the iSchool. When I first heard about the opportunity, I was excited to learn more about the tech industry from women technologists… The [event] that stood out to me was Dr. Deborah Berbichez’s talk. Dr. Berbichez is a physicist, TV host and STEM advocate. She grew up being told she shouldn’t and couldn’t be studying STEM because she is a woman; however, that lead her to be more motivated, positive, and curious. She became the first Mexican woman to graduate from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in Physics. I saw myself in her, and I was able to learn and be inspired by her. She advised to “think deeply, be bold, and help others”. After attending the conference, I learned that there are many career opportunities for the iSchool undergraduate students. This conference showed me the so many ways I can develop the skills that I learned in class to a career. I noticed how the skills we learn in the classroom like Python, R-studio, My SQL are widely used by so many companies I spoke with and learned about many career fields I should consider. Therefore, besides the inspiring and networking opportunities, this conference would be a huge help for iSchool students specifically undergraduate to learn more about what they can do with their degree and explore the many opportunities out there”  -Jerri Mengstu

“I was at the Grace Hopper Celebration as an attendee, courtesy of a scholarship through the iSchool. I was interested in attending because I wanted to hear perspectives from other women technologists and also network with companies. The most interesting talk was Melinda Gates'. It was really inspiring to hear encouragement from such a successful woman in technology. The most surprising thing I learned was the low percentage of gender diversity in the technology fields. Among the quantitative courses I have taken at the University of Maryland, while I noticed that there were more men than women in the class, the proportion was not so large that I felt like an outsider. I think that this abnormal distribution is something we as students might take for granted. To hear that the professional world has such a low percentage of women was really an eye-opener for me. Although attending the Grace Hopper Celebration did not affect my career goals, going there and hearing about the challenges that women face in fields of technology has motivated me even further to achieve my goals. I think being aware of these challenges will prepare me in case I ever encounter a a situation similar to what these women went through. I feel that attending the Grace Hopper Celebration is important for iSchool students so they can learn about the applications of their degree. It is also an empowering experience to learn how your degree can be applied to shape the future of society. -Amelia Short

"My favorite parts of this conference were the talks/keynotes and the career fairs. I enjoyed hearing from women who were successful in their education and work. I learned a lot about them and became much more motivated to expand my knowledge and education in the field of technology than ever before. Also, I attended the career fairs for three days. I learned about a lot of companies and how their hiring process would be like.  As a student who attended this conference for the first time, I highly encourage other students at iSchool to attend it for the next conferences since it would be a great opportunity to learn about the latest technologies, meet successful women around the world, and search for internships/jobs. " - Zahara Farhadi

"I was able to attend GHC 2017 due to the scholarship received from iSchool. After hearing about the experiences of some of the iSchool alumni, I really wanted to attend the Grace Hopper Conference. I was also aware that many influential women in technology would be attending this conference and, along with being a good networking event, it would be really inspirational. At GHC, I found the Keynote talks to be immensely inspiring. All keynote speakers had one thing in common-Failure and they shared their journey of overcoming their failures and how they became what they are today. I attended a few HCI and Accessibility related workshops and got a chance to speak with the workshop facilitators regarding how accessibility research is carried out at their company. I also attended the career fair and had a couple of interviews. (Confession: this was the largest career fair I had attended). As a masters student, I really liked the student opportunity lab, where I got personalized advice regarding career goals from professionals in both academics and industry. Overall I learned a lot from this conference. One of the things which I came across was the intersection of HCI and AI and found that really interesting. The importance of HCI researchers in the field of AI surprised me. I believe as an iSchool student from HCI major, attending GHC was really valuable. I met with professionals (both academic and industry) in UX research, UX design and HCI. After attending GHC, I can say that this was the best professional networking event for a student interested in the field of human-computer interaction and I hope more students from iSchool attend GHC and meet the wonderful inspiring women in technology." - Alisha Pradhan