Insights and Inspiration from the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology
“It takes a great man to be a good listener” – Calvin Coolidge
The 14th Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing had a record year for attendance, with over 8,000 people, including over 400 men, converging on Phoenix to share deep technological insights and work on the advancement of women in technology. As one of those men, I found it to be an enlightening and inspiring conference. For your reference, a lot of great conference material can be found on the Grace Hopper, NCWIT and the Anita Borg Institute web sites, but instead of just reading about it, I suggest that you attend next year in person and here’s why.
From my experience at the conference, I believe the value for men can be captured by a simple formula:
Attending Grace Hopper will make you more aware of the challenges that women in technology face every day. In addition to awareness, there is breakthrough learning, both culturally and technically, available at the conference, and this will provide you with a multiplier of changed perspective. The results of this formula will enable you to make a tremendous impact in both your work and life.
What’s it like to be a woman in technology? In the industry, a typical meeting of ten engineers might include one or maybe two women as participants. There are not a lot of women in technology fields, and as a man at GHC, you will be in the noticeable minority. This will help you gain awareness of what it’s like, and help you to develop empathy by walking in in another person’s shoes. As you become immediately aware of what it feels like, your consciousness will help improve your own workplace.
Learn about cutting edge technology, engineering practices and the value of diverse teams. Diversity encourages more original thinking by fighting groupthink and expert think. Identify how to improve performance through behaviors that respect and include others. Build a more diverse team and watch creativity and innovation flourish. GHC provides great technical content to cover the what, as well as important learning about the how.
Every GHC attendee, man or woman, comes away with a changed perspective – a changed world view, a willingness to redirect the conversation, a desire to take action, and to change teams and impact the computer industry for the better. You will, too.
We all have but one life to live. Leonardo da Vinci believed that the “noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Gandhi invites us all to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” As we learn more about the challenges that others face, it’s our responsibility to extend a helping hand. There is nothing nobler than to help another in need. You, and all men, have the opportunity to make a difference by standing up to help women in technology.
As we move further into the 21st century, the greatest advances will come when diverse perspectives are brought together to solve deep technical problems. Diverse teams will stand apart and achieve greatness.
If you are a man reading this, take the time to learn more and reach out.
If you are a woman reading this, please share with men you know.
It’s inspiring to experience firsthand how the Grace Hopper Celebration is initiating a conversation to drive change. Our world is filled with countless challenges. We are on a journey together with an opportunity to have an impact and make the world a better place. Each of us has a chance to make a difference with the actions we take towards helping others.
One small effort by each one of us can start things moving. We are all here to learn, so please share in the comments any suggestions and ideas you have tried or heard of.
And of course, please consider attending the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration!