Finally! I was able attended Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference(GHC) for the third time this year. My first year I went as a Facebook Grace Hopper Scholar in 2012 and the second year I went with my university in 2013. I skipped last year’s but heard I missed out on a lot so I made it my mission to go this year. This conference is about the CELEBRATION of Women in Computing whether you identify as a woman or not. With that being said, male allies often attend the conference as well, however of the ~12,000 attendees about 99% of them were females.
This blog is named after one of my favorite t-shirts I received from GHC in the past. The shirt was from Rackspace so I made it my mission to go past their booth at the career fair to see familiar faces and find out what type of opportunities they were offering this year. The career fair is where it all goes down. Not only are you passing out the 50+ resumes & business cards that you printed out, but your are receiving swag to reward you for your superb navigation of the massive fair. Many companies will have raffles for attendees to win cool tech. While speaking to companies at the career fair you often get invited to private events, which were great to make the large conference seem intimate.
A couple events I went to were the CODE2040&Pandora Evening Mixer, Facebook Research Brunch, and the Qualcomm Yoga. It was good to have casual conversation with people especially since I wasn’t actually looking for a job. As with all conferences, this one is about networking and stepping outside your comfort zone to meet new people. These smaller intimate events make it easier for that to happen and it feels so much more natural. I think I met the most amazing people at these events and formed stronger bonds at these events.
My favorite part of the conference was attending the BWICs events. BWICS stands for Black Women in Computer Science. I am on their systers mailing lists in their facebook group, but aside from that I have not have the opportunity to meet the people on the list. GHC was a great venue for that. It allowed other black females in computing to be able to identify with other females in computing who are going down similar paths.
The next conference of this type that I will attend will most likely be the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. Many attendees at the BWiCS event mentioned that it’s an amazing conference and coincidentally has been on my radar for some months now.
As much fun as I had this time at Grace Hopper this year, it will probably be last time going for a while. The conference has grown to be about 12000 attendees and for me that is not as intimate as I would like. It was actually a real challenge for me to navigate the sessions and attend the sessions that would really benefit me as a researcher. Honestly, that was one of the most discouraging parts. Honestly, I would claim the size of Grace Hopper to be a good problem to have. It shows that the field and support system is growing for women in technology, but doesn’t give them all the opportunities to meet each other.
The next time I will probably attend the conference is when I am actively seeking full time employment in about 2-3 years.