Wednesday, September 30, 2009

PhD Forum 2

I covered the PhD Forum 2 Wednesday morning.
As the mentor for this PhD Session noted, the three talks given really show the eclectic mix that can be found in computer science. This was the first time I attended these forums, and I tried my best to fill in the feedback forms as best I could with useful comments. All three presenters did a really good job and were really well prepared, so my comments were really only of small things!
Read the rest on my blog.

Jo Miller Session - Becoming a person of influence

Woah! What an exciting first day at the Grace Hopper Conference 2009...

With a series of events lined up from the very morning, I was desperately looking forward to the session by Jo Miller on Becoming a person of influence, having heard a LOT about her from all the last year attendees... and the praise did stand... Jo makes you think about nothing else for the time she is speaking. :)

With the topic of discourse being one with the most standing weightage in today's world, of becoming a person of influence... I could'nt help agreeing with each and every thing Jo spoke. Frankly, I was able to relate myself with almost all the instances she spoke of. For sure, these are THE sources of influence... Rest on my blog

New Investigators 2: Privacy and Social Software

By the time we were ready to start, the session was full, with people sitting on the floor and clustered at the back, and more people still trying to get in the door. As a researcher, I've got to say I was thrilled to see so much interest! Although maybe they knew something about the presenters: every one of the women presenting in this session was enthusiastic and passionate about her research, and it made for a fantastic set of talks.

People sat on the floor and stood at the back when we ran out of chairs.
People sat on the floor and stood at the back when we ran out of chairs.

Julia Grace: Enterprise Social Networking: History, Current Practices, Research Challenges

Julia Grace
Julia Grace
Julia warmed up the crowd by asking about how many people use facebook, and nearly everyone put up their hand. She about how at IBM research, she gets to work with colleagues all around the world, which can sometimes present challenges. Not so long ago, if you wanted to talk to someone at work, you either walked into their office or picked up a phone, but as technology changes, we've gotten so many new ways to communicate. Students often adopt these tools before enterprises do, but that doesn't mean they don't have uses within the corporate world!

The new channels of communication have changed not only the technical way we send information, but also the way we use the information and the way interact. Julia talked about how increased information transparency -- such as conversations on internal microblogs that can be read by the whole company -- helps people form new connections because they can see information that used to private. This is true both inside and outside the enterprise, but she noted some things are different. For example, you actually want employees to connect with "strangers" in the form of work colleagues, while most people only want facebook friends who they actually know in some way.

One thing Julia noted which I've had to explain time and time again is that you don't know how valuable social networking can be until you try it. This is just as true within the enterprise as it is within people's out-of-work lives. The gains are "soft" in that sometimes these tools can be a time suck, but sometimes they're essential for work: microblogging can help let people know if one office is having network issues, allow people to get quick feedback on questions, and do a lot of things that are important for business. The challenge, of course, is dealing with information overload, and Julia talked a bit about ways to filter information and make things more manageable.

Julia joked that her manager didn't want to see "we get paid to spend time on facebook" on her slides, but it's clear that she does a lot more than that -- she's been really thinking about ways that these tools can be useful, and how we can make them more useful.

Clare J. Hooper: Tugging at the Seams: Understanding the Fabric of Social Sites

Clare J. Hooper
Clare J. Hooper
Clare started by talking a bit about the digital divide, and how, to really understand why it happens, we have to have a better understanding of the experience of using social tech. The attitudes, behaviour, and how it is more of an ambient awareness: you don't only log in to facebook to do one task, you log in to learn about what's going on. This is a very new phenomenon.

One thing that has been useful in explaining social networking has been the "Dix deconstruction" which talks about "pulling apart" an experience and finding the essence. Clare used the example of the shared experience of christmas crackers -- when making a digital version, it was important to make it so no one could see the contents until both people had "pulled" the digital cracker. It's not just the visual experience that matters!

So how does Clare think we can use this as software engineers? She says the important part is to look not only at "pulling apart" but also at "putting together" -- deconstruction and reconstruction. She gave the example of microblogging: we can list the surface stuff about there being X number of characters, a share button, and a list of previous updates. You can look at the abstract ideas, about status updates giving you a presence within your social network community, or about the uncertainty about whether your friends will read that update. She suggests that the best way to summarize the key effects is with one simple, neutral sentence. So those status updates are about small messages broadcast to a community, although they may not be received. Note that messages don't have to be text -- they could be pictures, etc. That's why the "neutral" description, to capture the essence without getting too fixated on the specific technology.

Clare suggested that one might try reconstructing the status update experience using a t-shirt with a scrolling, updateable message. Similarly, you'd be broadcasting a message, to a small community around you, some of whom might not be paying attention. But it's a big step from microblogging to t-shirt displays.

She's looking forwards to helping provide broad access to online social tools, and to do this you need to understand those core experiences. She'll be working on evaluating these ideas both at her university and at IBM.

Katie A. Siek: The Knot or the Noose? Analysis of Privacy on a Wedding Planning Website

Katie A. Siek
Katie A. Siek
Katie introduced her talk by talking a little bit about herself and how this study fit into her career scheme. She had been working on helping people track health information, including work with records-handling at hospitals, and was starting to wonder how to encourage people to keep these records updated. There's a groan from the crowd as she talks about letting people keep health data on facebook.

She then said something I loved, "Another great thing about research is that research is everywhere!" -- so she while planning her wedding, she found the sites she visited could be part of her work. The Knot is a wedding website with plenty of users, where people can go to brag about their weddings. The site encourages people to share as much information as possible by providing incentives like choosing great profiles to be part of a magazine. But unfortunately, this can lead to privacy concerns... Katie pointed out one person who she was able to quickly track down by phone just from the information in the profile, and says that it's generally pretty easy.

But why is that scary? I was appalled (if not surprised as a security researcher) by the stories she had to tell about bad stuff that's happened to people. There's enough information there for mean people to cancel weddings! "Oh, I'm the wedding planner for so-and-so, getting married on this date, and something really bad has come up..." It sounds like a plot device from a wedding chick flick, but apparently this has actually happened to people! As well as phishing scams, where people were sent legitimate sounding invoices that they paid and they money went to scammers, identity theft, and even robbery when a thief knows when you'll be away on your honeymoon, what your house looks like and where the more valuable things are inside.

But meanwhile, The Knot website itself really wants people to share as much information as possible. More content means more sponsors, more money for them. It can be hard to balance corporate desires against privacy issues.

I was really thrilled to hear that Katie's research had an immediate effect: when they started asking survey questions which made people aware about how much information they were sharing and how dangerous that could be, people started changing their bios! And she's looking at further ways to educate people so they don't get caught, as well as how to tie these information sharing issues back into her other work with health records.

I'm sorry not everyone could get in to the room to hear these great talks, but hopefully I've given you a taste of what you missed! If you want to hear more, all three women are happy to hear from you -- just look them up.

Edit: The photos are now posted as promised.

PhD Forum 1

What an exciting start to GHC!

I attended the PhD Forum #1 this morning because it seemed to apply to my interest in networking! I've got to admit, an undergraduate (in applied networking & systems administration), some of that math and algorithm used really goes over my head. :( But it's great to know there's women who enjoy it! Here's an overview of what I heard:

Improving the User Experience of Information Technologies In Residential Settings
Erika researched how technology problems affect people in residential settings. She is working on fixing user misconceptions by developing a piece of software called "Tech Clips". This allows people to ask their family and friends for help by using screenshots, text, or videos. It seems like an interesting idea.

Secure Distributed Computation and Communication
Arpita is trying to fix a core problem in distributed computing and cryptography by improving secret sharing in a distributed environment. Unfortunately I didn't really understand what she was doing. :(

Automatic Generation of Parallel Programs with Dynamic Scheduling on a Network-on-Chip
Jungsook is looking at improving hardware- specifically Network-on-chip. She is proposing using run-time load balancing to speed up on chip communication.

Discovery, Generation and Analysis of Network Policy Configurations
Taghrid has been researching ways to probe a firewall to get information about the network behind it, and also analyzing ways to improve network policy (including QoS). Pretty interesting stuff!


Become a Follow Up Rock Star!

Grace Hopper is almost upon us! How exciting is that? I want to spend some time on a topic that isn’t something you do at GHC, but afterward. That’s following up. It arguably the most important part of networking! Without following up, you don’t create a connection and therefore, no network!

I will admit I’m awful at following up. It’s definitely something that I hope to work on this year and greatly improve. I really began thinking about how important following up with people is when I read this post by Trent over at The Simple Dollar. This post talks about chapters 13 & 14 of Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (a book I’ve never read, but have desperately wanted to). I highly recommend popping over to The Simple Dollar to read the post. I want to touch on the points Trent makes from a Grace Hopper perspective and hopefully help you become a Follow Up Rock Star!

How should I follow up?

Being timely with your follow up is essential. One way to make sure you have time is to schedule time now. Block out time on your calendar for the Monday you get back. Use that time to send emails, find people on social networks, and answer any follow up emails you’ve received.

In your follow up communication, please include some context of who you are! I’ve received follow up emails that say things like, “It was great to meet you. How’s moving?” I feel awkward writing back asking the person to remind me where we met; it implies that I don’t remember that person. I do remember, but I need a little bit of context. Save everyone some awkward moments and make sure to mention where you met and situation or conversation you had.

Plan a second follow up. This tip is genius! I’m going to start doing it right away. The second follow up is really where the connection can be made. It’s a great idea to add a reminder to your calendar, PDA, or Blackberry!

What should I use to follow up?

We are quite lucky to live in technology oriented world. This means that there are a plethora of choices for how to follow up with someone and keep the conversation going. You can follow up with email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, a phone call, or a handwritten note, just to name a few options. I usually use email, Twitter, and handwritten notes.

Email: I love following up with email because it’s quick and it can be as formal or as casual as I want. It’s up to you whether to use a personal or work email, but either way, make sure the address is appropriate.

Twitter: I’m biased; I love Twitter. Twitter is a great way to keep the conversation alive after an email. For me Twitter is a casual way to keep in touch, so I like to start with an email (and it can be more than 140 characters). I really like the casual feeling of Twitter and I can respond to as many or as few updates as I want.

Handwritten notes: If you really want to stand out and be memorable, send a handwritten note. Email is easy, but a handwritten note is personal and it takes a little more effort. Trust me, people will remember it. I keep a stack of blank cards that I use for all sorts of correspondence. In the end, I love getting mail (that’s not junk mail or bills!) so I assume other people do too!

I hope this has inspired you to become a Follow Up Rock Star! If you have any follow up tips or tricks, let us know by leaving a comment!

Grace Hopper: PhD Forum 4

Sitting in my second packed room of the conference! Considering we're still before "official" launch time, I can't believe how many women are here and how packed every session is! Here in my first session in the PhD series, I'm excited to see three PhD students present their research.

An n-gram Based Approach to the Classification of Web Pages by Genre: Jane E Mason, Dalhousie University:

Mason is looking for a novel approach to doing classification of web sites by actual genre - not just keywords. For example, searching for a health condition and only showing you information pages instead of pages by drug manufacturers attempting to sell you something.

Mason chose to use n-grams, because they are relatively insensitive to spelling errors, are language independent, and relatively easy to program. She combines these and then processes them with the Keselj Distance Function, which is apparently "simple", but it has been awhile since I've been in Differential Equations :-)

Mason and her team have been looking at how to let some web pages have multiple genres, which means that some pages end up with no genre - noise! While it's easy for a human to identify a nonsense/useless web page, I think it's pretty cool to get a computer to do this for you, so you won't even see it in the search results!

Ant Colony Optimization: Theory, Algorithms and Applications: Sameena Shah, Institute of Technology Delhi:

I've never heard of this type of optimization, so this was very interesting for me. Shah chose to study this area of optimization because ants don't have centralized coordination and they make great decisions based only on local information. She sees this as a great method to apply to distributed computing. Now, how do we get computers to leave pheromones on the path of least resistance?

Other than the lack of pheromones, another problem she had to solve is that ants don't always find the shortest path - if enough ants have taken a longer path before the short path is discovered, all of the ants in the colony will use the longer path and ignore the short path. Obviously, she doesn't want that short coming in her algorithm :-)

Shah does have a slide in her presentation which shows the statistical "solution", but it's a much more complicated formula than I ever saw in my intro to statistics course at Purdue. :)

Using Layout Information to Enhance Security on the Web: Terri Oda, Carleton University:

Ms Oda is a woman after my own heart, starting her presentation with a xkcd comic :-)

She starts her talk out talking about different types of security, like secure networks between companies. Oda tells us about how the threat models are no longer obvious: those seemingly innocuous applications in facebook that have access to your private chats on the site and private emails, websites that don't properly protect passwords, and malicious users on the same forums. Her talk moved onto the types of threats she's actually trying to protect you against: cross-site scripting and previously good sites that have gone bad.

She makes an excellent point that most (all?) web pages are done by web designers (aka artists), NOT web security experts and with all their deadlines and basic functionality bugs, there is no time to even think about security. Is it any wonder we have so many attacks and vulnerabilities out there?

but how can we solve this? Schedules will never have enough padding and most people designing web sites did not receive a BS degree from Purdue (where we were told over & over again that security must be designed in from the beginning, not as an add-on)

She's looking at using heuristics to correctly identify different elements on a page so that it's visually evident which components on the page are from the site you're visiting or being served from an external site (like an ad). I can't wait to see how her research turns out, and how much she can protect the user with a simple browser add-on!

Valerie Fenwick

Travelling to Tucson and Sight-Seeing

Five of our Carleton University Women in Science and Engineering members flew into Tucson on Sunday, and got a chance to see a few sights on Monday. I wrote about this (with lots of pictures!) on my blog:
It's worth clicking through to see our amazing photos of cacti (and you can learn a bit about these amazing plants, too!). I'm also adding some photos to the Grace Hopper Flickr group, as are many others. Be sure to check it out!

Mi adventura llamada GHC/My adventure called GHC

Ya estoy en GHC nuevamente y es tiempo de mirar donde he estado gracias a GHC. Mi mapa GHC está aquí y más detalles se encuentra en mi blog.

And again I am at GHC and my GHC map can be found here. More details in my blog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So Excited for Tomorrow!

Well, I've finally settled in (after two flight was a long day of traveling!) and managed to get some internetz. Grace Hopper Conference here I come! (well, tomorrow).

If you're staying at the Doubletree or the Marriot University Park Hotel (like I am), you will be taking a shuttle to the conference tomorrow! Everyone should have gotten the schedule when they checked in...otherwise, the links to the pdf can be viewed from this website too. Bottom line is, they run about every 20 minutes during the morning, lunch time, and evening (until half an hour after the last session is over)

So, what does this mean? Unless you can find a time to pull yourself away from the plethora of session options during the day, you'll want to make sure you bring everything you'll need for tomorrow.

Personally, I plan on arriving just in time to register, get some breakfast, explore the JW a little, and then start attending sessions! I'll also be dressing business-like so I can check out the job fair booths, and plan on lugging my laptop around so I can take notes and blog. Don't forget that you'll be getting a bag of goodies when you register, so try not to bring too much stuff before you get there...that's a lot of carrying stuff around!

Hopefully I'll see you all tomorrow!

Finishing Touches

I'm mostly packed. Of course my netbook, Egg, isn't packed yet since that would cut me off from the online world and then I would go through withdrawal symptoms and no one wants that. As I was finishing packing, I realized there's one last thing I have to do and it's not running through the dish washer. I have to optimize Egg for GHC!! What does that mean? For me, it means making sure everything I'll need for GHC is right at my fingertips...on Egg, of course!

My Browser
I'm involved in the GHC online community and I want to make sure I keep up with it while I'm at GHC! I've set new homepages in Google Chrome so that when I open it, all the important GHC pages open. Here are the pages that I open:


Although I'm not an official note-taker, I'll still probably want to take notes in sessions. Being a blogger, I'm also going to want to write several blog posts at GHC. There's also the possibility I'll want to outline a couple episodes of Ed & Ashley's 5 Minute Show. I want to make sure that all of my notes, posts, and outlines are organized and in one place. I set up a notebook group in OneNote dedicated to GHC. I have notebooks for notes, blog posts, and the show. Everything is in one spot so I'm not searching for it later!

My Taskbar

I've also set up my task bar for GHC. I'm running Windows 7 RC, but you can create a Quick Launch menu with the same functionality. Here's my taskbar:

  • Internet browsers: IE, Firefox, and Chrome (with all my GHC tabs)
  • Sticky Notes, to take quick notes and write down to-do's
  • Tweetdeck, my Twitter client of choice with its own columns for GHC Tweeters and a #ghc09, #ghc search
  • OneNote, for all of my conference notes, blog posts, and outlines
With all these fabulous tweaks, Egg is ready for GHC!!

A Humanities Major's Guide to Surviving GHC09

As a geek whose geekiness comes out in her work (social media consulting, blogging, web presence development), her achievements (only high school student with an essay in She's Such a Geek, programmer for Stanford University Libraries at 18, three time presenter at Hopper) but not her major (Ethics, History and Public Policy [an interdisciplinary major between the History and Philosophy Departments], with a minor in Vocal Performance), it can be a little rough going to a conference for technical women.

Here are three of my coping mechanisms:
  1. I am not my coursework--I am my ideas.

    Whether you are on Brazen Careerist or not, expect to be hired based on your web presence, not an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. My ideas--whether you find them in my presentations at this year's Hopper, my personal blog, or just through conversation with me--are what makes me a woman in technology, not whether I have taken C++.

  2. Focus on the conversations, not the initials.

    The Impostor Panel
    was one of my favorites at Hopper last year. In it, incredible women (a presidents of a major University, inspiring technologists, groundbreaking innovators) stood up and told a roomful of women: "I am an impostor".

    Women in technology often feel like impostors, fakes, like we're sliding by until someone notices we're not up to snuff. As geeky humanities majors, we are particularly vulnerable to this feeling. Acknowledge it, process it, and ignore it. We have the ovarios to show up to this conference, and we are here because we have something to say. Once we say it, everyone will know we belong.

  3. Technology is more than programming (Or, What Can You Do With a Humanities Degree?).

    As a daughter of a programmer, and as a geek who grew up in Silicon Valley, I know the value of programming. But for any given technology to reach its full potential, it needs people to speak for it--policy makers, columnists and visionaries. Here are three humanities majors who are shaping how we develop technology today:
    So what can you do with a Humanities Degree? Rock the world. In the short-term, rock the Hopper conference.
Build your ideas. Focus on the conversation. Remember who sets policy. And enjoy yourself--this is a world-class chance to be surrounded by geeks like us, and to confirm we're not impostors. Enjoy it, spread it, bring it home.

Inspirational Quote:

For there are two deserts: One is a grim desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable heat... visualized by those children of luxury to whom any environment is intolerable which does not provide all the comforts and luxuries of a pampering civilization.

The other desert -- the real desert -- is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the fearful soul of the cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance, and understanding. For those the desert holds rare gifts.--Randall Henderson

(My quote-theme for this conference will be desert quotes because we're in Tuscon AZ)

The Hopper workout: volunteering at GHC09

I summed up my day of volunteering as a Hopper in less than 140 characters on Twitter:

@terriko terriko the #ghc09 Hopper workout: 3000 steps while doing upper body reps -- also known as filling all the conference bags with neat stuff!

But since a picture's worth a thousand words, and I'm also volunteering as a photographer and blogger, I thought I should put it all together for you to see how things are starting to come together here in Tuscon.

For the Monday Hopper assignments, we were filling the conference bags. The room was filled with tables, boxes, and volunteers. And those boxes are filled with cool stuff! I'm going to leave the bag contents as a surprise, but I've got to say it was neat to see tech company logos on women-oriented swag, as well as all the neat general tech swag we were packaging.

GHC09: Hopper volunteers walk around filling the bags

We found a few ways to speed up the process of filling the bags. Some Hoppers collected paper items together for easier grabbing. The rest of us walked around the room, over and over again, with a bag, grabbing swag from each box and filling it up. Many of us quickly discovered that we could do two bags at once if we put one on either arm and used both hands to fill them! But just because your hands were busy didn't mean you couldn't talk -- technology, research, teaching, working... As I moved around sometimes I only heard snatches of very cool conversations, and sometimes a few of us would synch up and walk together and chat. So many smart women, interested in stuff I think is cool! I totally eavesdropped every chance I could, and joined in when I could too.

GHC09 bags GHC09: Three lovely ladies package small swag GHC09: A demonstration of the two-handed bag stuffing technique GHC09: Filling folders

The problem with the two-hand technique is that your arms start to get sore from lifting and stuffing! And once my arms got sore, I got to thinking about how much exercise this was, so I grabbed my pedometer to see how many steps it was, and estimated back to figure out how many I did. Some of the other volunteers may have done more, since I stopped to take photos when my arms got tired!

The benefit to all this efficiency is that we finished super early, so it wasn't long before we were back out in the crazy hot Tuscon weather, enjoying the beautiful scenery:

The CU-WISE women - me + cactus at GHC09

PS - If you want some more photos to whet your appetite, you can see my GHC09 gallery or check out our GHC group on flickr! There are already pre-conference photos going up there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wonderland por el bien social - Wonderland for the social good

Este año el tema de GHC09 es "Creando Tecnologías por el Bien Social" y que mejor que oportunidad para mostrar las cosas maravillosas con beneficio social que se pueden hacer con tecnologías que apuntan a la construcción de mundos virtuales. Por eso, Sun Microsystems Laboratories presentará el poster "3D Collaborative Environments for Social Good" en la sesión de posters del Miércoles.
Lo mejor de toda esta experiencia como el autor del poster es que yo no soy parte del equipo de desarrollo de Wonderland y que mejor manera de demostrar que no hay que ser uno de ellos para lograr cosas lindas con nuestras comunidades. Más detalles de este poster se encuentra en

Now in my best English :)

This year the theme @ GHC09 is "Creating Technology for Social Good" and therefore this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate what can be done in the subject with multimeadia technologies targeting the construction of virtual worlds.
For this reason, Sun Microsystems Laboratories will present the poster "3D Collaborative Environments for Social Good" in the posters session on Wednesday.
The best part of the experience as the poster author is the fact that I am not part of Wonderland's development team and that is the best way to demonstrate that everyone could use this particular technology to enhance the community work. More information can be found at

From GHC04 to GHC09!

On the eve of GHC09, I can't help but think back to the last time I attended this conference in 2004. It was the first time I had the opportunity to participate in anything like this, having so many wonderful women in computing gather in one place to share their experiences. I could relate to many presentation topics, and all the advice I received were spot on.

I am very excited to be able to attend GHC again and be a part of the online community too! In preparation to attending the conference, I was flipping through my notes from GHC04. I found some great advice I jotted down throughout the event, here are a select few:
  • there is not just one route to the top
  • networks are critical to advancement and mobility
  • learn early to promote yourself, make it a part of your being
  • the earlier your career, the more important your manager's role is
  • dare to be different and create your own styles
  • build up your support network wherever they are
I was filled with ideas and thoroughly inspired after the last conference, so I really can't wait for the next one to begin!

How to Work the Crowd at GHC

The Grace Hopper Conference is a great opportunity to meet and connect with incredible women from all over the world, but networking can be difficult sometimes, especially when you're an introvert (like many of us).

I came across this article on "Learning How to Work a Crowd". In this Ignite Talk, Alexis Bauer uses an interesting analogy of planting a garden to networking at social events. One must "sow the seeds of conversation" around the room.

One important thing to always remember is that everyone is JUST as nervous as you are. Striking up casual conversations with strangers becomes less daunting when you have something in common with each other. The beauty of conferences like GHC is that everyone already has at least one thing in common with everyone else: the conference! So the next time you spot someone near you, strike up a conversation about the conference itself (your hotel, seminars that you'll be attending, cool swag, etc). You can use anything related to the conference as a conversation starter. And remember, "bystander is just another word for a friend you don't know yet".

Hope to see some of you working the GHC crowd this year!

Systers code sprint at GHC 2009

One session I'm really excited about is the Systers code sprint. This was a late addition to the program, so I want to make sure you don't miss it!

Systers Code Sprint at GHC09
Time: 16:00-20:00 - AST, Thursday, October 01, 2009
Where: GHC09 - Room: Tucson A
[More information]

From coders to writers to artists to testers... we'll be looking for people with all sorts of skills. (And if you can't make it to GHC, you can stop by the IRC channel to help too!) Check out the current task list and see what might suit your expertise, or just stop by and see how you can help on the day, because new ideas are bound to come up. You don't have to stay the whole time, either, just stop by for as long as you can.

And if you'll indulge me for bit, let me tell you why I'm so excited about the Systers code sprint at GHC09.

The fact that it's a code sprint to help roll out some new stuff for Systers is plenty of reason to be excited, but this is extra special to me because one of the things we'll be working on is Mailman, which is a mailing list manager and open source project near and dear to my heart.

First, it's exciting to me because mailing lists have been a large part of the way I "meet" other women involved in computing, like the wonderful women involved with LinuxChix, Systers and many others. Mailing lists provide us a way to connect with others around the world. Many women in computing feel quite isolated, and it's wonderful to be part of a global community.

Of course, the joy of mailing lists is hardly limited to women in computing. They're used by universities, friends, political parties, and special interest groups of all stripes. They're also commonly used to help coordinate efforts for open source projects. Which brings me to the second reason I love Mailman: I'm a developer! I'm actually one of the core developers, plus I wrote a lot of documentation for it. So I'm always thrilled to see new ways in which people want to use it, and of course I love seeing people hack on the projects that I contribute to. And I admit, since I'm currently trying to work on helping improve the usability for the next version, I'm always out there asking people how they like it and what we can fix in the future.

So I'll be at the Systers code sprint helping out as a Mailman developer, but you don't have to be interested in Mailman to help out! There's lots of other good reasons to be interested. Hope to see you there!

Celebration time!

I can't believe the Grace Hopper conference is less than a week away!

As a senior undergraduate, I'm so excited to be attending GHC this year! This will be my second time attending. I can't wait to have the opportunity to network with professionals, learn about the newest research, visit with recruiters, and attend Sponsor Night. I will also be participating as a blogger and note taker during the conference. I figure this is a great way to give back to GHC for the student scholarship they gave me.

My first time was the 2007 conference in Orlando, and wow - I came away from that experience SO motivated! I wanted to participate in research, volunteer with woman in computing groups, work in industry, continue networking with all the wonderful women I met...oh yeah, and finish my undergraduate degree. It's funny how these small things get in your way. ;-)

My experience two years ago taught me a few key things:

1) Print out your resume!
As a newbie to the GHC, I had no idea that I would have such a great opportunity to connect with companies looking to hire women. I found myself scrambling to find a printer and print out my resume -- not a fun time!

2) Attend as many sessions as you can!
I always like pouring of the schedule beforehand and planning out my day accordingly. Torn between two sessions? Go to the first, then visit the second if you feel like that. And don't forget that we will be having note takers to try to capture some of the main points of session.

3) Introduce yourself
There are so many opportunities to network with the woman at the conference, whether it's before/after a session (and something during!), at the breakfast buffet or lunch table, in the elevator, at Sponsor night...the list goes on and on. Challenge yourself to meet someone new every day.

4) Bring your dancin' shoes!
The award presentation and dancing on Thursday is always a great time. How often do we get to have dance parties? It's a total blast.

The best thing about GHC is that it is business and party all rolled into one. It's such an incredible experience to be surrounded with thousands of woman who are just as psyched as you to be involved in the computing industry. So, take it all in! A memorable experience awaits you!

Program Chair Tracy Camp on the CRA-W Career Mentoring Workshops at GHC09

We asked Tracy Camp, Computer Science Professor at Colorado School of Mines, to share a bit of her perspective as Program Chair for Grace Hopper 2009. Here she highlights a unique addition to this year's program. — bj

As the GHC 2009 Program Chair, I know the GHC 2009 program inside and out. There are several wonderful aspects of this year's program - way too many to list. Putting together such a fabulous program takes a lot of time and energy. I owe so many people a BIG THANKS for their efforts. I look forward to giving thanks (and hugs!) at the conference in a few weeks.

There are many pieces of the program that I find exceptionally exciting. I'd like to tell you about the CRA-W Mentoring Workshops that will occur at GHC this year.

BTW, if you haven't heard of CRA-W and the programs that this organization runs, it's time you do! CRA (Computing Research Association) is an association of more than 200 computing departments in North America. CRA-W is CRA's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research. You can learn about CRA-W and their programs at

CRA-W is sponsoring three sessions at GHC 2009, and each session has been created for a different population that attends GHC. The Undergraduate Student Session will include content on (1) the exciting opportunities in computing today, (2) advice on traversing the road to graduate school, and (3) the overall graduate school experience. The Graduate Student Session will include content on (1) strategies for thriving in graduate school, (2) tips for networking and professional development, and (3) publishing your research. The Early Career Researcher Session will include content on (1) the different career paths for researchers in computing, (2) balancing your professional career with your life outside of work, and (3) preparing for promotion.

These three CRA-W mentoring sessions for undergraduate students, graduate students, and early career professionals will run in parallel on Wednesday (9/30) afternoon from 1-5pm.

I've included the titles and presenters of the sessions below. I'm sure you can see why I'm very excited about having these CRA-W mentoring sessions at GHC this year!

For Undergraduate Students

CSE is for You: Innovation, Flexibility and Exciting Opportunities
Soha Hassoun (Tufts University) and Tessa Lau (IBM Almaden Research

The Road to Graduate School
Jodi Tims (Baldwin-Wallace College) and Shannon Steinfadt (Kent State

The Graduate School Experience
Eleni Stroulia (University of Alberta), Andrea Danyluk (Williams
College), Ramya Raghavendra (UC Santa Barbara)

For Graduate Students

Graduate School Survival Skills
Yvonne Coady (University of Victoria)

Networking and Professional Development
Susanne Hambrusch (Purdue University)

Publishing Your Research
Lori Clarke (University of Massachusetts)

For Early Career Researchers

Growing Your Research Program
Cecilia Aragon (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Justine
Cassell (Northwestern University)

Work/Life Balance
Carla Ellis (Duke University) and Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)

Preparing for Promotion
Dilma da Silva (IBM T. J. Watson Research Center) and Nancy Amato
(Texas A&M University)

For more information see
CRA-W Career Mentoring Workshops

Sunday, September 27, 2009

El síndrome del impostor en GHC08 y GHC09

English version in the CU-WISE blog (Part 1 and 2)

"Pareciera que tienes el síndrome del impostor" me dijo un buen amigo cuando le contaba de mi nuevo trabajo, para el que ni siquiera me consideraba buena candidata y jamás habría creído que pasaría de la primera entrevista. Me lo repitió una vez más cuando pasaba por un momento difícil de mis estudios de Doctorado. Nunca había oido de ese síndrom, y no fué hasta GHC08 que volví a escuchar de él.

Mi curiosidad me llevó sin ninguna expectativa alguna a el panel titulado "El síndrome del impostor", al cual llegué temprano y ví como poco a poco la sala se llenaba, incluso había gente de pie. Mi primer pensamiento fué: ¿Será posible que todas estas mujeres hayan tenido sentimientos parecidos a los míos? Todas ellas se ven "normales".

El panel comenzó con la pregunta, ¿Quién se ha sentido un impostor en su vida? y cual fué mi sorpresa cuando al momento que yo tímidamente alzaba mi mano, todas las asistentes hicieron lo mismo. Me sentí en el lugar indicado :-). Mas fué mi sorpresa. cuando escuché que este "problema"era "común" entre las mujeres en ingeniería, ciencia y mas específicamente en computación.

Las panelistas eran mujeres exitosas y dignas de mi admiración, con carreras impecables en la aademia, la industria y el gobierno. Una a una, las panelistas completaron la frase: "Me he sentido un impostor cuando...". He aquí alguna de sus respuestas:

  • Estoy en situaciones nuevas (nueva escuela, nuevo trabajo, etc.)
  • No entiendo una discusión.
  • Me piden cosas para las cuales no me siento calificada.
  • Hago algo que la gente "exitosa" hace.
  • Hago algo que las mujeres no hacen "típicamente".
Una de las panelistas compartió que se sentía una impostora cuando participaba en una conferencia de Matemáticas (1975), dando una conferencia (1980) o conviviendo con premios Novel (2000), pero ahora ya no se siente como tal en situaciones similares ya que ha participado en muchas conferencias. Sin embargo, ahora se siente una impostora en nuevas circunstancias, como cuando convive con filántropos para pedir grandes cantidades de apoyo para su Universidad.

Así que si te sientes una impostora, ¡No estás sola! Te preguntarás si hay una cura para este síndrome, a continuación encontrarás la opinión de nuestras panelistas:

  • ¡No hay cura! Nunca termina (siempre hay nuevas responsabilidades) asi que la mejor opción es tratar los síntomas.
  • Cree en ti misma y rodeate de personas que creen en tí.
  • Valora las cosas para las que eres buena, recuerda éxitos pasados. Piensa en dónde estabas hace (5-10) años.
  • Acepta tus dudas como parte de lo que eres. Recuerda que muchas otras personas que crees que son exitosas, han dudado de sí mismas.
  • Toma riesgos (calculados)... saldrás adelante.
  • Y me gustaría agregar, haz hasta lo imposible para participar en las conferencias GHC. Sino puedes asistir físicamente, sigue nuestros blogs y envíanos comentarios.

Así que ya lo sabes, si has sentido este síndrome, no estás sola. Todas estas mujeres (incluyéndome) hemos sentido este síndrome, para el cual no hay cura, pero con un poco de perseverancia y práctica, cada vez lo sentirás menos.

Yo por lo pronto, estaré en primera fila en el Panel del Impostor en GHC09 el próximo Jueves, Octubre 1 a las 11:15am. Espera mis blogs de este panel y ¡Comparte tus historias con nosotras!.

Using Technology for Solving the Toughest Problems of the World...

"Using Technology for Solving the Toughest Problems of the World"...these are not just hollow words; believe me it can be done :). Let me first give you a brief walk-through of the “Millennium Development Goals".

The United Nations has identified and set eight “Millennium Development Goals” which are as follows:
  1. eradicate poverty and hunger

  2. universal education

  3. promote gender equality

  4. reduce child mortality

  5. improve maternal health

  6. combat HIV/AIDS

  7. ensure environment sustainability

  8. develop global partnership
These goals were agreed upon by 189 nations around the world more than eight years ago and the target date by which these goals should be achieved was set as 2015. If these goals are achieved then millions of children and mothers will be saved every year from the clutches of preventable death, millions of people will have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, millions of women and girls will lead an oppression-free life, with more security and more opportunity. More details on the United Nations Millennium Development goals can be found at:

Out of the above mentioned eight goals, two (maternal health and gender equality) are directly related to women and therefore the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference is an ideal place to discuss the same. Women from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences can help millions of less fortunate women across the globe by working together to develop solutions that addresses these problems. Talking about gender equality, not only can we help our less fortunate sisters across the globe using the latest in technology, but we can also use technology (for example, social networking) to help each other tremendously by coming together and sharing our experiences-right from getting rejected from a team because of gender to being left behind when all the other male co-workers are going out on lunch together...

If you feel that you can be a change-agent, if you have that itch to do something beyond school and work-related commitments, and if you are a techno-social person, please join us in our BoF session for exploring the possibilities of collaborating on strategies and technologies for making this world a better place - "for you and for me and the entire human race".

Details of the session are as follows:

Title: Imagining Together: Using Technology and Extreme Ideas to Solve the Toughest Problems of the World
Panelists: Lani Fraizer (Synergies in Sync,
LLC), Ritu Arora (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Geetha Krishnakumar (inherIT)
Date, time and location : October 1st, 4: 30 p.m. to 5: 30 p.m., Tucson F

Heal The World

Make It A Better Place

For You And For Me

And The Entire Human Race

There Are People Dying

If You Care Enough

For The Living

Make A Better Place

For You And For Me...

....Heal the World (Michael Jackson)

See you in Tucson :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What I Love About GHC (and, Women Pilots in WWII!)

I wrote about this at my first Hopper, but I want to say it again: what I love about GHC is standing in the middle of the atrium floor on Wednesday night, watching 1000+ women talk and carry boxes and geek out about each other's gadgets and set up their posters and plan their evenings. Standing and watching, I am reminded that I am not that I am not alone, that I am in a community of women, women who are smart and geeky. As women in male-dominated fields, it is so easy to feel isolated and without community. I often feel pathless. Hopper gives me a chance to peer down the paths of life which other women have tread. I always start to reshape my life-map at Hopper, basing my new map on the stories I hear from the women around me.

As geeky women, we need this community, and this chance to imagine ourselves without borders. I am looking forward to it, as always.

PS: For geeks who are also history buffs, check out this article from the New York Times about female pilots in WWII. There were nearly as many then as there will be Hopper attendees this year!

Inspirational Quote:

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." Dorothy Parker

Sun at GHC9

There is a nice article about Sun Microsystems participation at

It also includes the name of the two Sun' scholarship winners Taniya Siddiqua from the University of Virginia and Lamia M. Youseff from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Spanish version is under :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Student Support Groups: How to Build Them and Do They Work?

I'm part of a group of amazing women who are presenting a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session at 4:30 on Thursday October 1. It's called Support Groups for Women in STEM: International Perspectives:
Retaining women in STEM fields has been a challenge globally. Studies suggest that peer support, mentoring, and female role models help. This session brings together student leaders from around the world to discuss the strategies and challenges of building and sustaining support groups. Are these groups working? Surprising results from our research will be presented in this interactive discussion with group leaders.
I'm really excited about this talk. The five executives of Carleton University's Women in Science and Engineering (aka CU-WISE) - Barbora, Natalia, Serena, Lindsay, and me - will be showing you how we rebuilt our group. We started only a couple of years ago from nothing, but you wouldn't know it if you saw us today! We believe everyone can be successful in creating a similar support group, whether it be for students or industry professionals.

The second part of the talk is also going to be very interesting. Students from the Women in Computer Science group at Simon Fraser University and from MenTe (Mujeres en Tecnologia) in Mexico will tell us about their research on how well these student support groups are actually working.

Whether you can attend our talk or not, you can participate in the conversation! We have set up a website called Support Groups for Women in STEM, where we have posted all kinds of useful links and resources for you. We hope you will leave comments on the pages and come with all kinds of great ideas and questions in Tuscon!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GHC09 en Español (con sabor Latino)

(English summary follows)

La Conferencia anual en honor a Grace Hopper (GHC) organizada por el Instituto Anita Borg (ABI) es el evento que reune al mayor número de mujeres en Computación. Mujeres líderes en sus áreas y que laboran en el gobierno, la industria o la academia. GHC se caracteriza por ser un foro para enseñar, aprender, compartir, motivar, promover y conocer mujeres que se desarrollan en campos típicamente dominados por hombres.

ABI ofrece tambien un gran apoyo para grupos minoritarios, uno de los cuales es Latinas (LiC en sus siglas en Inglés). Latinas fué creado por y para Latinas, en GHC06, con la misión de promover su representación y éxito en campos relacionados a la Computación. Es por ello, que algunas Latinas hemos decidido publicar nuestro contenido en Español, con el objetivo diseminar y compartir nuestras experiencias en GHC09 con otras hispano hablantes interesadas en Computación (con el sabor latino que nos caracteriza).
El programa de GHC09 esta disponible en PDF, si te gustaría que cubrieramos alguna sesión en particular envíanos un comentario.

GHC09 in Spanish (with a Latin flavor)
In order to reach out to Spanish speaking people, and in particular Women In Computing, a group of Latinas will be blogging in Spanish to share our experiences in GHC09.

LiC en GHC09: 1F2W4Pa1R3P4B1L1T

Faltan 10 días para que comience la versión 2009 de la conferencia Grace Hopper que se realizará en Tucson Arizona. Este año participaré en las actividades de LiC pero también presentaré un poster sobre Wonderland (sobre ese poster bloggearé después).

Cada año tenemos más eventos donde nuestra comunidad está representada. Partimos en 2006 con 1 BoF(B), 2007 con 1 Panel(Pa), 1 BoF(B) y 1 almuerzo(L=lunch), en 2008 fue un almuerzo(L), 3 paneles(Pa), 1 BoF(B) y este año son mucho más.

Miércoles Septiembre 30
11:00a-12:00, PhD Forum “Towards the Semi-automated Building of Knowledge Bases for Biological Research:
1:15p-3:30p, CRA-W Workshop: Early Career Researchers
3:45p-5:00p, Panel: A Person of Influence In Real Life
5:00p-7:00p, Latinas in Computing Reception: Sponsored by ABI
7:00p-9:00p, Poster, “United to enhance women’s opportunities: Increasing numbers technologywise
7:00p-9:00p, Poster Técnico, "3D Collaborative Environments for Social Good"
7:00p-9:00p, Poster Técnico, “Using Random Code Generators to Cover Core Microprocessor Test Areas

Jueves Octubre 1
11:15a-12:15p, Panel: Women of Color: Identifying and Discussing the Unique Issues
4:30p-5:30p, BoF: Support Groups for Women in STEM: International Perspectives
4:30p-5:30p, BoF: Baby Loading, Please Wait: Pregnancy, Graduate School, & Computing

Viernes Octubre 2
10a-11a, Panel: "Technical Mentorship and Sponsorship: Why You Need It and How to Find It"
12:30p-1:30p, Latinas in Computing Lunch, Signature Grills Restaurant: (Prior RSVP required) sponsored by Lockheed Martin
4p-5:30p, Panel: "Empowering Immigrant Communities Through Technology"
4:15p-6:30p, K12 Town Hall Meeting
5:3-6:30p, BoF: "Speed Mentoring for Latinas in Computing”
5:3-6:30p, BoF: "Cross Cultural Communication Challenges Faced by Women in Computing"

Sábado Octubre 3
8a-2:30p, K12 Computing Teachers Workshop

Asi la progresion ha sido increible desde el 2006. Se ve mejor si lo resumo de alguna forma y abajo está la mejor manera que se ocurrió :-)

2006: 1B
2007: 1Pa1B1L
2008: 3Pa1B1L
2009: 1F2W4Pa1R3P4B1L1T

Donde: F=Forum P=Poster B=BoF Pa=Panel L=lunch R=reception W=workshop T=Town Hall Meeting

A partir del 2008, hemos puesto posters cerca de nuestras sesiones para que la gente sepa donde más nos puede encontrar. Una de nuestras lideres Patty Lopez de Intel se encarga de hacer los brochures y posters. En unos diás más nuestro folleto debería esta en nuestro sitio web.

Nos vemos en Arizona

Este blog fue publicado originalmente en el blog personal de Gilda: "LiC en GHC09: 1F2W4Pa1R3P4B1L1T" en

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What to Pack for GHC 2009

Tucson is one of the sunniest cities in the U.S.A. with 350 days of sun each year! The weather in Tucson averages a high of 86 degrees in the day and 55 at night during October. Here's a list of some essentials to bring to GHC.

Clothing and Accessories
  • Pack clothing that will ensure protection against the sun. With the wonderful weather Tucson has to offer, you are sure to be spending some of your time outdoors. It's also a good idea to bring layers to ensure more comfort when traveling in and out of air conditioned environments. Nights may get chilly so don't forget to also bring a jacket.
  • Bring comfortable shoes. At GHC you are bound to be on your feet all day going from one exciting event to another. You don't want your aching feet to stop you from any of the fun. Bring shoes that will keep you feeling good all day. Also, bring your hiking or walking shoes if you plan on exploring outdoors.
  • Don't forget your swimsuit so you can enjoy the JW Marriott Starr Pass's gorgeous swimming pool.
  • Pack essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Bring your dancing shoes! As is the GHC tradition - there will be dancing after the Awards Ceremony on Thursday night. There is no dress code so feel free to wear what makes you comfortable.
Things You'll Need at the Conference
  • Something you don't want to forget is plenty of copies of your resume. Bring at least two for the resume clinic but also have more on hand in case opportunities arise as you speak with sponsors.
  • Business Cards will definitely come in handy. Even if you aren't employed right now make sure to make your own business cards with your information on them just in case. However, the best way to exchange information with someone is through the CONNECT project. Make sure to sign up and this way you will be able to access your connections any time in the future, without the risk of losing them. It's an eco-friendly way to network.
In her blog post Tips for Newbies, Ed offers additional tips. Is there anything else you recommend others bring to Grace Hopper 2009?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Notes from a n00b (or, in which I explore coming to ghc09 from *slightly* outside the tech community)

A few months ago I stumbled upon the Grace Hopper Celebration Web site. I can't quite remember the series of clicks that got me to the site but I'm fairly certain it had something to do with a Twitter search or checking out tweets from the fantastic tech women I happened to start following around the same time. In any case, not only did I find other organizations related to women and technology, but I also noticed that this year's Grace Hopper Celebration is in Tucson, Arizona! (Meaning: Since I live in Phoenix, rather than just thinking about how cool it might be to attend one of these conferences while only following the happenings through blog posts and tweets, I found something could realistically consider attending.)

Now, the conference is roughly two weeks out and not only am I going to GHC, I get to be involved. This is a very cool feeling for me because I come to "women in tech" in sort of a round-about way (being a communication studies MA student). My technical background is limited. I worked with online communication technologies for government and nonprofit agencies but never on the development side. Due to that, I can get a bit caught up in my own insecurity. As a comm studies scholar, I feel like I can spend a lot of time between multiple disciplines, rather than in any particular one. Recently, I've challenged myself to get out of that "in-between" place and push my comfort zone, because of my research interests (new media, culture and technology) and because of what I have to learn about advocating for women in any community. I'm so ready for my first GHC! I can't think of a better way to learn a lot. Quickly.

Oh, and can I tell you about what has blown my mind so far?




Women's shirts. ;) **While it might seem odd to be so excited about this I have to admit I made the assumption that the GHC shirts available would be, by default, men's sizes. Turns out that's not the case! It might seem obvious to others, after all this is a woman centered organization, it is an example of how I am still working out mental barriers personally.

Anyway, for other newbies, whether coming from the tech community or not, here's what I've been up to to create the GHC 2009 experience for myself this year:
  • Checked out Registration information to budget costs (I decided to think about the cost as part of my education costs for this semester if necessary).
  • Volunteered both to be a Hopper and for the Online Community.
  • Registered my daughter for free child care.
  • Made arrangements for my oldest child and husband as related to the demands on my time for the week of GHC.
  • Started tweeting, and re-tweeting with the other #ghc09 participants I've been able to find on Twitter.
  • Drafted a post for the Grace Hopper Blog and caught up on what's been posted so far.
The only few things I have left on tap are to plan my days for the conference and then actually go. I'm quite excited to meet everyone in person!

Until then, you can find me online at: Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, and Linked In.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grace Hopper Conference - How to land a job by becoming a child!

My first time in GHC was in the year 2007 in Orlando. I was a first year Masters student at Texas A&M University at that time. I went with zero expectations, literally. But I went with all the vigor and enthusiasm of a 5 year old:) And I landed myself a rewarding internship in a big firm. That started it all...

GHC will change you, for better. And I am not kidding. GHC taught me several things - confidence, networking skills, communication skills, building relationships and a host of other things!

There are already excellent posts on how to make the most out of GHC. I will not repeat them here. But I can share how GHC can help you land a job and also contribute to your personality. All you have to do, is become a child, once again. :)

1) Believe in yourself

Yes, that is the first and the last advice to remember. If you believe in yourself, you can make a mountain out of a mole. I believed in myself. I walked up to the recruiter's booth without any concerns - "Will I be able to impress them?", "Will I be able to get that internship?" etc. This automatically gives you all the confidence. You are no more anxious. You know that you are worth it.

2) Be inquisitive

Ask questions, like a child who is endlessly curious. Find out more about the company, about the job roles, about work culture, people, kind of work etc. If you don't ask questions, you will never know!

3) Prepare for your exam

Yes, just like a child who prepares for his exam. Come prepared. Take a printout of all companies attending and mark them in the order of your preference. Pick a company that is in the bottom of the list and go to their booth first. This is because you give yourself a "warmup" time. Converse with them, ask regular questions about their company, share with them your experience etc. This will give you time to reconsider how to talk to the other companies, especially the ones on the top of the list.

For example, the first company I approached, I forgot to take their business card. I also did not answer very well on a data structure question they asked me. Since I did not expect that coming. (Yes, they do ask some basic technical questions. So be over-prepared to be safe.)

4) Play and lose yourself in play

When you are with the recruiter, showcase your talent and work experience. It is very important to be passionate about your previous work experience and interests. You want to convince the recruiter that you know what you do and would love to contribute to their company.

5) Show love and respect

Again, recruiters have been standing all day long. Be genuinely concerned. Do not kick off with a list of programming languages you have worked in for instance. Give some time. Ask them about their trip to GHC, is this their first time, what sessions did they like etc. And then start briefing them about why you are at their booth.

6) Enjoy yourself

It is important to enjoy the process. Do not take this as a task. Plan out what companies you want to talk to in detail and do adequate homework on the company and on your resume. You want to be able to answer precisely anything that they point out in the resume. With a little planning you can relax, have fun, enjoy and also land that job!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Splendid GHC08 Experience

Hi, I'm Ed. (That's one of my favorite things to say!) Anyway, I went to GHC last year and Valerie's and Barbora's posts inspired me to continue the "GHC Experience" thread. Last year I was able to go to GHC because I was a scholarship recipient. For me, that in and of itself was incredibly exciting! In preparation for GHC, I updated my resume and submitted it to the GHC Resume Database. My roommate at the time, Ashley, and I also decided that we wanted to do some video-blogging while at GHC. We filmed a couple episodes right before we left. That was the start of Ed & Ashley's 5 Minute Show.

Looking at my Google Calendar, my schedule was pretty packed for the conference. Several companies had contacted me about doing an on-site (at GHC) interview because they found me through the resume database. Between filming, creating my schedule, and preparing for interviews, my first GHC was looking pretty packed and I wasn't even in Keystone yet!

Before I knew it, I was arriving at GHC. I had never been to a big conference before and I was astonished by the number of people there, the exhibits, and the number of sessions. There was so much to do! The conference went by in a flash! Time flies when you're having fun and there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to go to all the sessions, check out the exhibits, and talk with everyone. Ashley and I did a bunch of filming. Because of our show we got to meet some amazing women! Being a young woman in the field of computer science, it was awe-inspiring to meet these woman and talk about their accomplishments and how far women have progressed in the field.

Another really cool thing that came out of GHC were some emails that I received during and after the conference that talked about the Imagine Cup. I'd seen a poster for it on the door of one of my professors, Gloria Townsend, but I didn't know anything about it. After these emails, I looked into it. As a result, Ashley, Malisa Vongskul, and I created an Imagine Cup team, Team MangoBunnies. For the 2009 Imagine Cup, Team MangoBunnies was the first runner-up in the nation (we won $4,000!) and we were the first all-female team to make it to the U.S. Finals.

As it turns out, my preliminary job interviews went well at GHC too! I was offered a job as a software engineer in Denver, CO, where I am now!

Overall, going to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing has been a pivotal point in my professional (and personal) life. Coming out of GHC, Ashley and I started a show about women in technology, Ashley, Malisa, and I competed and won money in the Imagine Cup, I expanded my network with lots of meaningful connections, and I had a job! Was it even a question as to whether or not I would attend this year's Grace Hopper Celebration? Don't be silly! See you Tucson!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Women and Their Involvement with Technology

As I was following my links through various blogs the other day, I ran across "Women in tech/women near tech" on the Geek Feminism Blog written by Skud.

Since deciding to major in Computer Science three years ago, I have attended a number of women in technology conferences. MidWic06, InWiC08, and GHC08. At GHC08, I learned about BlogHer, because the site and its three co-founders won the 2008 Anita Borg Social Impact Award. As a result, I decided to attend BlogHer09, an annual conference for women bloggers.

After attending so many technical women in computing events, allthough I was aware the conference was about the community rather than the technical aspect of blogging, I still wasn't quite fully prepped for the complete change in the folks surrounding me.

The "Women in tech/women near tech" blog post was able to articulate the fleeting awarenesss I had about why I experienced BlogHer in such a different way compared to previous conferences I have attended. It is the idea of "Women in Tech" as in those programming, doing sysadmin work, or other technical work compared to the idea of "Women Near Tech" as in those using technology.

When these two groups get mixed together, the "Women in Tech" have a tendency to get lost. As Skud states, "'Women in tech' articles and blogs like those make me feel invisible. Not cool."

As I begin to enter the workforce and leave my lucky percentage of 33% CS females at my university, this article makes me appreciate GHC and the efforts of ABI even more.

This post was originally published on Ashley's personal blog, Let's Eat that Big Fish, at

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last year's Grace Hopper Conference caused a chain reaction in my life

After finishing my master's in engineering at Carleton University a few weeks ago, I have begun to reminisce about my life, and more specifically, what I want to share with you in this blog. I thought about my experiences at last year's Grace Hopper conference, about my experiences as co-founder and external affairs executive of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), and about my experiences as a teaching assistant. I finally figured out what I'd like to share with you in this blog. I'd like to tell you how going to last year's Grace Hopper conference has changed my life.

The 2008 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing was the very first conference I attended. I went with three of my fellow executive members of WISE. We were passionate women in the preliminary stages of rebuilding this group and this conference was the perfect way to start us off. This is what I personally got from it:

I got to know my team members on a more personal level. Ultimately, I think this discouraged any development of misunderstandings between us and made me realize that we need each other's support. I remember we arrived early and spent an entire day just exploring Keystone resort. I remember we talked all night about boys.

I realized just how many awesome women there are in technical fields around the world and that we really are very valuable. I realized that it's normal that I sometimes feel like a fraud in my field and that I am not the only one who worries about balancing family life with work life. I think this was the most important thing I needed to know if I was going to rebuild WISE.

I learned that to get what you want you need to ask, ask, and ask again. And if you don't hear 'no' enough then you're not asking for enough. This is a huge reason why our group ended up getting a lot of help and funding. I remember how shocked our faculty adviser was when she heard that the dean of engineering accepted our budget proposal. Even she thought we were asking for too much.

I remember the climax of the trip. It was the last day of the conference and all the women were sitting in one big room. We were asked to talk about what we've learned. By this time my head was spinning and I felt like a nobody compared to these women. I felt even more helpless when one woman stood up and said that she learned that you can't have everything. Then an older woman stood up and said something that I will never forget. She said that you can have everything, just not all at the same time. To this day I truly believe that this woman's advice is what keeps me going. I wish I remembered who said that as I would love to thank her for sharing her wisdom.

Attending this conference convinced me that networking is extremely important if you want to get ahead. One problem though, I am an introvert. I realized this so I decided to take on the role as external affairs executive of WISE. I am very thankful I did. After much practice, I can now play the role of an extrovert, but I still need my alone time to recharge my batteries.

I learned about mentoring. I almost didn't go to that session because I thought to myself: what good could I possibly be as a mentor? But thank goodness I did because I ended up doing a lot of mentoring through WISE. I sure didn't realize I was signing up for that job, but thankfully I love mentoring and I've also gotten some pretty good feedback about it too.

A panel discussion about women in leadership taught me that you won't get anywhere if you don't take risks. There is also an African Proverb that states that smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor.

It was also made clear to me that perfectionism has two faces. Many times it's worth it to take the time to get the extra quality, but there are cases when it's not worth it. Perfectionism is still a big issue for me as I like to do everything to the best of my abilities, but I'm only human.

My Hopper position showed me that the best way to meet new people at a conference, especially if you are an introvert, is to volunteer to help out. I met more people in an hour of working as a Hopper than an hour of walking around at the conference.

And last but not least, I learned that if there are many outreach programs in your local community, it is probably more beneficial to join forces with them than to start a new one. And personally, I'm tired of all the clutter in the world. It's discouraging when you're searching for something specific and you end up with a bunch of useless information. Clutter is something I've thought about a lot.

I'd love to hear how last year's conference changed your life. Please feel free to comment on this post with some points of your own. And if this will be your first time at the conference, let us know what you think will benefit you the most and what you are looking forward to. See you all at the conference!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Preparing for my panel at Grace Hopper!

I'm moderating my first panel at a large conference at the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing. I've been on panels before. I've done entire hour long presentations before. But I've never moderated a panel.

Now, in just a couple of weeks, I will be moderating "Open Source Community Development" where we'll be tackling issues about how Open Source communities grow, thrive, and possibly die or wither away. Interesting topics I hope we can explore will be about building trust and encouraging women to participate. All of these things I think will be helpful for the OpenSolaris community.

The question remains: how best to moderate? I know from personal experience that I appreciate a moderator who keeps the flow moving, knows when to take a discussion "off line", and keeps up a slide of all of the speakers' names so the audience doesn't have to remember. So, it's a given I'll do those things (and hopefully do them well).

But after reading several great "how to moderate a panel" blogs (thanks, Stormy, for the intitial link that got me started on this), I've gotten a lot of conflicting information, so I'm going to have to make some decisions myself. For example, several folks who have moderated other panels argue that the moderator must always introduce the panelists, while others suggest letting the panelists themselves do it. Personally, I've always introduced myself, either while presenting alone or on a panel.

Some recommend assigning a few questions to certain panelists in advance and making sure you all meet as a complete group before the panel, while others say that doing so will ruin the spontaneity of the panel. I believe that at least a short meeting before hand is warranted so we will at least have the name to face thing down.

All the advice is clear, though, I need to make sure I am personally familiar with all of the panelists' backgrounds and areas of expertise so I can direct questions appropriately. While I know a few of these women personally, or follow them on twitter, and clearly learned about them when we were proposing the panel, I still need to make sure I do all the appropriate research.

Do any of you have any advice in this area? After all, as the audience, you will be my customer!

Here are links to the advice I've been reading:

Valerie Fenwick

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Volunteers make Grace Hopper happen

Have you ever wondered how to become involved in planning a major conference like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing?

You start by attending your first Grace Hopper. You get blown away by the program, the networking opportunities, and the sheer number of women that understand what you do for a living. A chance conversation sparks an idea and you are on your way to organizing a program proposal for the next Grace Hopper in an area that really excites you.

At the next conference, you tell conference organizers that you are interested in helping wherever you are needed for future conferences. You may review scholarship applications or serve on a sub-committee to evaluate program proposals. The next year, you share ideas about how some aspect of the conference could be even better and find yourself on a task force to implement the improvement for the next conference.

As you show that you can deliver what you promise, you may get asked to take on more responsible roles. In a conference run by volunteers who have other demanding life and work responsibilities, someone who meets all their commitments is extremely valuable.

P.S. The good news is that the staff from the Anita Borg Institute do all the heavy lifting for the conference. They handle the mountain of logistics and coordinate the army of volunteers that make the conference possible each year. No matter how demanding a volunteer role you may accept, they’ll be there when support is needed. As General Chair this year, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Note from the GHC 2009 General Chair

How can you get the most out of a Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing?

1) Network. Talk to as many different people as you can. Share ideas with people in similar specialties and listen to people in areas very different from yours. Exchange business cards and use the Connect project to keep new connections alive past the end of the conference.

2) Learn. Attend sessions that help you grow professionally, that introduce you to new areas of computing, and that help you connect with peers in your area of interest. Meet people from other cultures and exchange ideas on creating technology for social good.

3) Have fun! Get energized from inspirational keynotes and presentations. Attend organized and spontaneous celebrations. Laugh over stories of similar misadventures with new friends.

4) Go home recharged. Take what you learned back to your sponsoring organization. Implement some of the new ideas you picked up. Tackle challenges with fresh determination and a new perspective. Keep in touch with your new connections from Grace Hopper and form a support network.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On being a shy connector

Adapted from a post I made to the Carleton University Women in Science and Engineering group.

With GHC coming up soon, maybe you're excited about all the new people you'll meet... and maybe you're a bit terrified by the idea of being in a sea of strangers. Even potentially awesome strangers can be pretty overwhelming en masse!

My friend Sacha is a self-confessed shy person who is also good at meeting new people, giving presentations... typical extrovert stuff. And she does it all without defeating her shyness, but rather finding ways to connect that don't require her to be outgoing.

Check out her tips on being a shy connector. My favourite tip involves wearing a funny hat (or something else notable) to get people to come up to you and talk, because when I met Sacha I absolutely had to go up to her and ask about her huge camera and tiny computer. It works!

I've embedded her slides below, but it's worth reading her blog post that goes with them, too!

I'm looking forwards to meeting people at GHC! You can come see my talk on web security in the PhD forum 4 (just before lunch on Wednesday). And I do love having other people talk to me, so I may just find something crazy to wear -- keep an eye out!

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