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My experience at Grace Hopper

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. This year, the DRW team was there, and we came back energized by meeting so many talented women. We also sponsored two students from the University of Chicago and Carleton College to attend, and spoke with them about their experiences:

Chelsea:

I’m a senior in computer science at a small liberal artsschool. I love my school, but the opportunities in technology are more limitedthan at large schools known for computer science. The Grace Hopper Celebrationof Women in Computing is the perfect place for me to get the type of exposureand networking that I need to start my career.

The second I got there, I hit the ground running. I reunitedwith friends from last year and mentors from my internship, and met new peoplefrom diverse backgrounds.

Throughout the two days, I listened to a lot of reallyinteresting tech talks. My favorite panel was one on virtual reality. Thetechnologists on the panel saw limitless potential in the technology, which showedme the power of thinking beyond the current application.

There are surprises in every corner of the conference. Theexperience can be overwhelming, so I tried not to rush around too much. I tooktime to relax and enjoy myself – it really is a celebration! I also found a lotof value out of going to some of the smaller talks on topics outside my currentinterests. I walked away from every session processing new information.

Heading home after the conference, I was exhausted –admittedly also due to my weekend at Universal Studios. But, on the plane home,I found myself sharing highlights with other attendees and strategizing how toshare what I learned.

I’m a board member of the Lovelace Club, an organizationdedicated to promoting gender diversity and inclusion in computer science. Ourorganization is going to host a debrief on Grace Hopper so we can all sharewhat we learned. The community we built at Grace Hopper will continue back atschool, and into our careers.

Valerie:

My first experience at Grace Hopper exceeded everyexpectation. I was inspired by the keynotes, learned about incredible new techat the panel sessions and made important connections at the career fair. Ithink I could go back to the conference at any stage in my career and learn newways to better myself and the code I write.

The community I built at Grace Hopper will truly impact mycareer trajectory. I learned so much from the experiences of other women intechnology.

Dr. Fei-Fei Li delivered a particularly impactful keynote onthe first day. She told her personal story of being a full-time student atPrinceton and running a laundromat a night. Dr. Li is the director of theStanford Artificial Intelligence and Vision Labs and an associate professor atStanford. She sees A.I. as a deeply human science and she provided interestingtechnical insight into how she builds and researches technology with that inmind.

Technology continues to have a huge impact on our society,Dr. Li stressed the importance of thoughtfulness as you build technology forthe world. I admire her hard work at dedication to computer science anduplifting women in tech. I would like to emulate this as I start my career.

I took my first computer science class just a few years agowhen I started school at the University of Chicago. I really wish I hadexposure to technology at a younger age. Creating opportunities for girls andyoung women is the best way to close the gender gap in technology. That conceptreally resonated with me. Heading back to campus after the conference, I’mactively looking for ways to get girls coding.

DRW Communications

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