Woohoo!!! Looks like I’m going to the Grace Hopper Conference again this year. I’ve been twice before, but not for a few years.
The Grace Hopper Conference is a “celebration of women in computing” and is a very fun conference to attend. It’s an excellent opportunity to network, search for graduate schools, look for jobs, find people will similar interests and just realize that you’re really not alone.
Many females can go through their entire academic career in computing being the only female in their class (or maybe of three). They may move into industry to find themselves in similar situations – where there are almost no females at their work, and many (most?) of them are in administrative support positions, not as fellow computer scientists. Attending conferences like Grace Hopper gives you a chance to realize that there are actually a lot of other females who choose careers in computing.
While the conference includes a lot of time spent towards networking for jobs or the research being done by students, there is also a large chunk of the program devoted to discussions on being a women in computing. Stuff like balancing life and a career. Or being a mom while being a grad student. Conversations where it can be really difficult to find others who’ve had similar experience at your school/work.
My favourite panel at the conference is the imposter panel. I can’t find it on the schedule for this year (:(), which is too bad. The imposter panel is when they get a bunch of very successful females together (like the president of Harvey Mudd College) and have them talk about how through their career path (starting back in school) and even now, they’ve often felt like imposters in their jobs. Like maybe they shouldn’t be there (even though their path to success shows they really should). The first time I went, I found myself nodding along and going, “oh, others feel this way too.” I’m not sure how much this feeling happens for males, but I do know it’s something common to females. And that we just don’t talk about it enough.
It looks like there’s a possibility that this year there will be a group of undergrads and grads from my university going. I hope so. As this conference (for me anyway) won’t be a really big networking conference, it’s nice to make it a “get to know and become friendlier with your colleagues” event. Nothing like travelling together and hanging out to make this happen.