In mid-October, 15,000 people gathered in Houston for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC).
For those who have never attended this conference, it is difficult to describe the inspiration that is GHC. Our world is changing rapidly. Technology influences every aspect of our lives. Fifteen thousand people from more than 80 countries who attended this year’s conference offered an amazing view into the incredible roles that women play in technology across the globe, and underscored the importance of building a diverse and inclusive environment in technology.
In previous posts (2012, 2014 and 2015 ), I offered my personal perspective as an attendee, but doing that again would be a disservice to the greatness of this event. GHC has become something much greater than one individual could capture.
As a co-chair for the Organizational Transformation track, I cannot overemphasize the value of this conference to HR professionals for building a diverse, technically adept workforce. A Skype attendee named Angela summarized it nicely with three key takeaways: "learning, inspiration and focus."
Regardless of whether you view GHC from the perspective of an individual, an HR professional, a recruiter or a CEO, there are opportunities to grow the role of women in technology. From the minute you step on the plane to GHC, you realize that this is special: There are hundreds of technically proficient women descending on a singular destination.
Our country faces a challenge over the coming years. We have a growing need for engineers, a stagnant population of engineering graduates and a growing number of folks displaced by technology.
The Anita Borg Institute’s work with the Grace Hopper conference is tackling these trends head-on. This week was filled with inspirational speakers and a call to action for companies worldwide to join the effort to diversify their technical workforce.
Some amazing themes and resources grew out of the time in Houston:
The Grace Hopper conference offers tremendous depth and breadth, from an exhibition hall that is likely the greatest career fair ever for women in tech to deep-dive technical sessions to broad organizational and management talks.
CSForAll — Computer Science for All is a bold new initiative to empower all U.S. students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science.
It’s hard to describe the inspiration that comes from attending Grace Hopper. Several of the keynote speakers talked about the opportunities ahead. In her opening keynote, Ginni Rometty from IBM talked about working on something bigger than yourself and to “never let someone define who you are.”
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, talked about pay equity and Megan Smith, White House chief technology officer, shared an overview of many of the programs underway to bring more women into technical fields.
Why This Matters to HR Professionals
You should be here next year. Every industry feels the impact of technology—and is being disrupted by the new social and digital world—and Grace Hopper is a great opportunity to connect with women in technology, from students to seasoned professionals.
Some other write-ups:
And of course:
The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a magical event for like-minded people to gather to promote the role of women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts,” and I’m sure everyone leaving the GHC was filled with new and inspiring thoughts.
For HR professionals, particularly in the U.S., if we are going to address the tech job shortage, we’re going to need to recruit more women into tech roles. We know that diverse teams are more creative, and the Grace Hopper conference is a great opportunity to recruit more women into the STEM fields.
To paraphrase ski filmmaker Warren Miller, if you don’t attend Grace Hopper next year, you’ll just be one year older when you eventually do.