In the past few days I’ve begun to notice people’s reactions when I tell them I’m going to the Grace Hopper Celebration this week. Students and professors alike exclaim, “Wow, that’s going to be great, you’re really lucky!” I’ve even heard male computer science students admit, “Huh. Kinda wish I were a girl now…” I guess it took talking to other people to realize what unique opportunities I’ll have at the Grace Hopper Celebration.
Nora, the keynote speaker for today, was phenomenal, and her discussion about how women have a different point of view and why it was important to have women on a team made me think how differences are sometimes an advantage.
The first session I went to was the Creativity, Learning and Social Software session. The speaker had started out as an architecture and changed to a technical career. Her experience as an architecture provided with a unique perspective when she worked on projects especially for the users. This is where I can learn that no matter how dissimilar two fields are, one student of a field can shape another’s world by contributing something that other could not see.
Walking around the conference, I met up with a graduate student from Haiti, Google employee who was also a Duke alumni, and Microsoft employee. It was interesting to note unalike we were and yet these variances make up what each person is. It is to my benefit to hear what the situation is like for women in Haiti, how life is like after Duke, and who Nora was to people who knew her. I hope that my life as an undergraduate Duke student stands out in there memories as they have in mine.
During lunch, I ate at a table with a gentleman writing an article about why men have difficult changing. He believed that women used areas in decision making that men did not use as much due to the invisible advantage men had. As a psychology minor, there were times I questioned what he was saying. There were also times when he was right about the differences between men and women. He took the advice from the women at the table very well, and I look forward to reading his work.
The award ceremony was a display of another type of difference. I do not have much to say about it except that the work by the women who were recognized was fascinating and almost unbelievable in how big of an impact they made.
Tomorrow will be my last day attending the GHC 2012 conference. Whatever Friday brings, the celebration has already left a lasting impression on me.
My first day at the Grace Hopper Conference initially left me confused. On one hand, the conference excited me: here, in Baltimore, was amassed thousands of passionate female computer scientists–all ready to educate and learn from each other. On the other hand, the conference intimidated me: these female computer scientists were leaders and executives of their field–and I, a college sophomore, had only taken one semester of computer science. My feelings of intimidation reached a climax when we entered Hall D, where the GHC Career Fair was to take place. Seeing so many recruiters from Google, Yahoo, Apple (all the biggest companies, essentially) made me think of how many qualified applicants were at the conference. I wondered what I would have to do to be competitive for those internships and jobs.
My first day at the conference ultimately left me, however, feeling inspired more than anything else. Sure, I felt inadequate in the skills and experiences I had accumulated in my single semester of computer science. But when I looked at the big picture, it was one that induced hope. The recruiters had come to GHC, after all, because they knew how many accomplished women computer scientists would be there. And these thousands of accomplished women scientists were available to us Duke students precisely because we were at the conference. By seeing what they had done to become so accomplished, I could motivate myself to become a better computer scientist.
All in all, it was a great first day. The lectures I attended were all helpful in some way–from how one should write a resume to the graduate school experience. When I went to bed, I felt far more knowledgeable about computer science than I had at the start of the day.
My fellow Duke mates were unable to attend the welcome ceremony this morning. What they missed was the message that I got today at GHC: collaboration.
In my mind, there are companies that are competitors in certain fields; however, here at the conference, they unite for women.They unite to be role models for us students. They unite to teach and inform the new women in the field who will later become role models.
At my scholarship lunch, I sat with someone from Google who was one of the founders of Systers. She stated that “women, rather than view meeting people as networking, see it more as connecting” (this was summarized). I don’t know about you, but I agree with her. Unlike the severe and cut-throat feeling I get from the Duke career fairs, the women at GHC feel more open to discussion and supportive.
In the field itself, it was fun to see how my psychology classes can be applied or were used in some of the research that I heard during the break-out sessions. For example, one research on which diagrams were best to display information directly ties to my Health Communication class, which tries to ensure the public (the illiterate, numerically, textually, or health-wise) understands the message being delievered. Knowing that Euler ellipse diagrams are better for readers can be used when demonstrating the probabilities such as dying of a disease.
I have to say, I’m glad to see some guys at the conference and to meet a few that have gone for a few years. To me, it paints a picture that “hey, yes this conference says it’s for women, but men are welcome to come and join us in our celebration.” What better way is it to show the men how to interact with us than to openly invite them to see our world?
There was breaking the ice yesterday and collaboration today. I look forward to finding out what tomorrow brings.
As a scholarship recipient, I was invited to arrive early to the conference. So, here I am in Baltimore, Maryland one block away from the convention center.
I have to say, this conference has already started for me. On the airplane to here, I was sitting in the midst of a group of women all discussing their previous experiences at GHC. It was exciting and a little nerve-racking because I was an outsider and a first-timer; yet, I wanted to talk to these women about what they have done.
Professor Rodger is right. Once you initate the conversation, everything will flow. The person I sat beside is a senior manager at Cisco whose daughter had gone to Duke as an undergraduate. By talking with her, many of my questions about entering the job force were answered and a lot of my fears were lessened. The one point that stuck out to me was that you aren’t going to stick with you first job for forever. There is room to explore and find what you like, but make every job a learning opportunity. Through me, she invites all of the Duke students to come by the Cisco booth.
Later in the day, I got to meet my roommate. She’s a sweet and bright international graduate student at a Kentucky University. Her concerns, which focused on her being international, about her future were interesting to hear about and to think about. Will there be time when we are no longer concerned about country boundaries? Why did she decided to go to graduate school for a masters degree here and look for a job afterwards?
I’m looking forward to seeing all my fellow Duke students tomorrow as well as learning to be someone who can come back to GHC and help other newcomers.
We are a group of undergraduate women attending Duke University who, with the help of the Computer Science Department, will be attending the Grace Hopper Conference 2012 at Baltimore, Maryland. Please read to follow our various thoughts and experiences during our days at the conference.