Wednesday, August 6, 2008

3(.5) Reasons I'm Looking Forward to this Year's Grace Hopper Conference

I've been looking forward to this year's GHC since the closing day of last year's event, which was my first ever GHC. And I have several reasons to be excited!

Last year's conference was a whirlwind of amazing experiences. I was a bit star-struck: I got to meet such amazing people, from the girls I stayed with, to a VP of Cisco Systems and the President of the ACM, to the first woman to win the Turing Award, Fran Allen. I'd never attended anything like it before, and it made quite the impression on me. So the first reason to look forward to this year's conference is last year's conference, and that I know this year's will be even better (wait, is that two reasons?).

As my friends know, when I get excited about something, I have to share it with them. I've told just about everyone I can think of about GHC. I got started during last year's event; I blogged about it on my personal blog, told my friends about it, and made presentations about the conference to my labmates at school and to our Women in Computing Science (WICS) group. When this year's conference was announced and applications opened for the Google Global Community Scholarship, I got going again, emailing, Facebooking, and IM-ing like crazy. Which leads me to the second reason to look forward to this year's GHC - we have eight fabulous female students attending this year's GHC from SFU (my school).

All this Facebooking led me to meet three wonderful students from around the world, with whom I'm collaborating on a Birds of a Feather session at this year's GHC. We're hoping to help people learn how to start their own technology groups for women and also learn from those who attend our workshop. This is my first conference presentation and first international collaboration, and I'm excited about both. Which is the third reason to be excited about this year's GHC!

Ok, so it's pretty clear I'm excited. GHC is full of such wonderful opportunities, and I think we should do everything we can to get as many people involved as we can. If you're wondering how you can help spread the word, or get your own delegation organized, there are a few things you can do:

  • Blog your experiences. You never know who will read it. Better yet, let your department know you are going; maybe they can help advertise your posts. You can reach a lot of students this way!

  • If you don't have a Women in Computing Science/Women in Engineering/Women in Technology group, start one! It can be as easy as meeting for coffee or going for lunch. Let the group know about GHC and keep them updated on your trip so they'll be excited for next year.

  • If you've found a deal on airfare or similar travel arrangements, let others know. Traveling together is a great way to get to know people from your department better! Sometimes it's cheaper, too.

  • Read the Anita Borg Newsletter, join the Grace Hopper 2008 Facebook group, and encourage your friends/peers/colleagues to do the same. There is a wealth of information on how to prepare for the conference, what to do when you're there, travel tips, etc etc. It's also a great way to network - you may even find people to stay with! I find these groups invaluable and often find myself passing on information I find in them.

Thanks for reading this far! I'd love to hear the reasons you're looking forward to this year's GHC; please let us know in the comments below! I'll also keep blogging up to and during the conference, and I'll try to keep the posts shorter. Hope to see you there! ;)


M++ said...

Hi Kate,

You made some excellent points in this post! I just realized that I was doing all these things without even being aware that I was! I've had very similar (and exciting) experiences - and so far Grace Hopper has been exactly the type of event that I needed to channel my passion and enthusiasm for technology and computing with like-minded people.

For the last two years I have walked away from the Grace Hopper celebration, thinking it can't possibly get any better than this, and then somehow, the organizers out-do themselves every time! I'm really excited to see the wonderful things in store for this year :) I'll try to attend your presentation, I'm sure it will be wonderful :) See you there hun!

~ Maryam

Kate said...

Thanks so much Maryam! :)

Aakriti said...

Hi Kate,

I loved your post! Its the first GHC for me and I am soooooo excited!

From the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, to the awesome program schedule lined up with great sessions (I am stuck badly on deciding which one to not attend!), I believe whatever I have heard and read about GHC (rather better as Maryam said!) is going to get live. I congratulate the organizers for providing such an extraordinary platform to promote technology.

Thanks to Facebook, we will be leading the BOF session with two other amazing girls on Student Technology groups, which further makes me look forward to the conference. It will be awesome sharing information about our groups and also talking to others about their own.

I can imagine myself having all the fun which you had last year and may be much more :p With sessions on Open Source, Grad School and Resume Writing, I know my schedule would be packed for the entire 3 days. I am sure I would take back wonderful memories of meeting so many great people and look forward to GHC 2009!

Keep writing! :)


Kate said...

Thanks Aakriti! I'm also looking forward to meeting you in person at last! ;)

Anupama said...

Hi Kate..

Thanks for sharing your views. This is first time I am attending GHC and have been looking forward to it from a long long time :). I specially looking forward to meet CTOs and I am sure it will be a memorable experience.. I definitely look forward to make a lot of new friends too:)


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