Field Notes: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
Automattic heads to Houston, Texas — along with 15,000 other people — to talk women in tech.
Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, we report back on the exciting things we do when not in front of a computer.
I’d like to share some experiences from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, where I was joined by my colleagues Marjorie Asturias, Deborah Beckett, Mo Carter, Rebecca Collins, Kelly Dwan, and Megan Marcel.
Picture an airplane hangar-sized space full of women bobbing to rhythmic pop music, neon glowing necklaces dotting the crowd. This was the closing party for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), a massive conference devoted to women studying or working in technology, and named in honor of the legendary computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral.
It was an intense few October days in Houston, Texas, where the 16th edition of GHC drew 15,000 international participants, from computer-science and software-engineering college students to established professionals working at large technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple.
Automattic was proud to host a booth at the career fair, where we chatted with many young women getting started in their technology careers. We introduced a series of postcards featuring Automatticians, which you can see on our new Diversity and Inclusion page. The cards showcase the wide range of people working at Automattic from their home bases across the globe, in roles from Data Scientist to Happiness Engineer.
I also had an opportunity to attend some sessions at the conference itself. Highlights included a talk about how to negotiate more effectively, a skill a lot of women find rather challenging. According to the presenter, we tend to negotiate well on others’ behalves, but many of us — including me — find that negotiating for ourselves can be difficult! Another thought-provoking session was a panel discussion with women who have created tools to help bypass unconscious bias during the hiring and interviewing process. I also attended a public speaking workshop; since I also run public speaking workshops, it was useful to see one from a participant’s perspective. I picked up some good tips on how to handle a larger group — there were at least a hundred women at this one, in a huge ballroom.
My week at GHC was inspiring and exhausting, but more than anything, it was energizing to be around so many women passionate about technology.
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Love the post! When I was in college pursuing my Master’s Degree, I did a research paper on Grace Hopper. She was a very interesting woman and the person who coined the phrase “bug” in a computer program. The first computer “bug”, which was found by Hopper, was actually a moth between connections in the computer wiring. I don’t think I will ever forget that fact!!
I wonder why they picked Houston, Texas for the 16th edition of GHC. I’m sure they didn’t know about Houston being the gateway for trafficked children and women from around the world.
The Texas Monthly ran a piece on this and called it “The Lost Girls”
“For the thousands of women who have been trafficked into Houston and forced to work as prostitutes in the city’s underground sex trade, escaping from captivity may be the eaiser part of the nearly impossible road to recovery”
CNN also reported “Inside Houston’s sex slave trade”
Grace Hopper is my hero. One day I think my cousin, Lena, will be a winner. I first learned of Grace Hopper while working with the Seattle Girls’ School in Seattle. They honor women every year with a Grace Hopper award for leadership and one for outstanding achievment in their field. It’s thrilling to watch 7th grade girls give awards to amazing women.
Wonderful post. Grace Hopper was the Key Note speaker at my graduation from Villa Julie College. We were the first class to graduate from the college with an AA in Business Administration and Data Processing. I’ll never forget the impression she made on all of us. She was a real pioneer in the computing world.
It’s a nice post. But I could not imagine if it was energizing to be around so many women passionate about technology.