CS women take Houston

From October 19 to October 21, the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas hosted the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Hosted by the Anita Borg Institute, the Grace Hopper Celebration is named after renowned Navy Rear Admiral and computer scientist, Grace Hopper. This is the largest event for women in computing worldwide, with 15,000 attendees from all over the world. The event includes an expo, a multitude of talks relating to different topics within the field of computer science, and two keynote presentations. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute provided full scholarships for twelve students majoring in computer science to attend. The scholarship included travel arrangements, registration for the conference, and hotel cost.

Kicking off the Grace Hopper Celebration on Wednesday morning, the keynote presentation was held in the Toyota Center. There were two keynote speakers: Latonya Sweeney, the first African American woman to get a doctorate in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the former president and CEO at IBM, Ginni Rometty. The presentations also included the presentation of awards by the Anita Borg Institute. The first award presented was the Technical Leadership Award to the Vice President of Engineering and Artificial Intelligence at Google, Anna Patterson. The second award presented was the Student of Vision Award to undergraduate computer science student at McMaster University, Alyssia Jovellanos.

After the keynote, the crowd moved back into the George R. Brown Convention Center to attend various talks and check out the incredible expo. The expo displayed a multitude of technology companies including Google, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Snapchat, Pinterest, Yahoo!, Verizon, IBM, Intel, Amazon, Hulu, Twitter, Uber, Starbucks, Dropbox, and Disney.

Friday, the conference came to a close with one final keynote presentation. This keynote included talks from Marc Benioff and Megan Smith. Marc Benioff is the CEO of Salesforce and discussed how he has made it a huge part of his company to ensure equality for his employees. Megan Smith is the first woman to be the Chief Technology Officer for the United States of America. The keynote concluded with a huge thanks to the sponsors and attendees followed by the announcement of the next location of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: Orlando, Florida in October 2017.

The Grace Hopper Celebration is extremely important to women in computing, it allows for women to meet others who have succeeded in the field and are passionate about the same things. RPI attendee Hannah Deen ’18 expressed how the Grace Hopper conference empowered her, and her appreciation to RPI for providing her the opportunity to attend. “GHC made me realize that even if women are a minority in computer science, we are not in the discoveries and advancements of the field. So much of the technology we use on a daily basis would not exist if it were not for the women who came before us. Of course there was no one gender that advanced the field, but I never knew that there were so many women, just like myself, that have paved the way. I feel reenergized to continue this semester and work to achieve my goals! Thanks again goes to the CS department for funding my trip because it is the singular best educational and business trip I have ever been on.”