Friday, December 16, 2011

We are on this Journey Together

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of the women and men who made the 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference a resounding success. It’s amazing how one conference can be so energizing! I was fortunate to attend and participate in several of the conference events.

GHC 2011’s theme of “What If…” was timely – What if we asked for forgiveness instead of permission? What if we used our collective wisdom more collaboratively and effectively? Women make more than 70% of consumer buying decisions. What if we used our voices to influence the products we build and buy? What if we delivered the best products and the best user experience bar none? What if we used our collective buying power to influence what we won't buy?

For those of you who have had the good fortune to attend GHC, take the professional development skills that you developed at the conference and put them to work. Practice your elevator speech, hone your brand, and bring your highest self to work every day. As Sheryl Sandberg put it, “Lean in.” Reach out across corporate and organizational boundaries. Pick up the phone instead of sending email. Build relationships and break down boundaries. Pay it forward, and reciprocate when someone reaches out to you. Use reward systems appropriately to thank those who have helped you hit a major milestone, blow past a roadblock, or facilitate collaboration. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
As you bask in your GHC experience, consider reflecting on the conversations and topics that you found most engaging. What sparks of interest were ignited? What would make next year’s conference even better? What new connections did you make? Now is the best time to jot down those ideas, and send a brief email to people you met that you’d like to collaborate with on a topic for next year, and get started. The 2012 GHC “Call for Participation” will go out in January 2012, and your proposal submission offers a tremendous opportunity to network, share your expertise, your passion and your career path with up-and-coming talent; talent we’d love to bring to our organizations. The theme for GHC 2012 is “Are We There Yet?” This too, will be an opportunity as a community of women in technology to consider what work still needs to be done. As technical thought leaders and change agents, we set the bar for generations to come. We can all put our unique experiences, perspectives and collaborative skills to work to make our companies more agile in a world that is ever-changing.

One more parting thought: If there was one person in your organization that you could bring with you next year, male or female, who would it be? In addition to female leaders like Patricia McDonald of Intel and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, senior male leaders from many companies were present, visible and welcomed: Justin Rattner of Intel, Alan Eustace of Google, Gabriel Silberman from CA Labs, Mark Bregman of Neustar, Mike Shroepfer of Facebook, Tayloe Stansbury of Intuit and Bill Laing from Microsoft. Justin, Alan and Mark serve on the Anita Borg Institute Board of Trustees. Gabriel and Bill participated as panelists for a plenary session, “Partnering with Executive Leaders for Shared Vision and Career Growth”; Mark, Alan, Mike and Tayloe participated as panelists for a session “What If… There Were More Women in Technology? The Business Case for Diversity.” To “get GHC”, you have to “go to GHC.” It’s an experience like no other – especially for men, who are in the overwhelming minority. It takes a strong male leader to move out of his comfort zone for three days of participation, having candid yet engaging conversations over a spectrum of topics, but the rewards are incomparable. Conference participation also creates an awareness of the challenges women still face and opens opportunities for real insights about what it is like to be a woman in technology. We are key to change in our companies, but we need more male leaders to step up and spend time listening to us and learning from us. We are on this journey together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

East or West - GHC is the best!

If you had told me last year at GHC 2010 in Atlanta that about one year later I would be sitting in Bangalore attending the 2nd annual Grace Hopper Conference India, I wouldn't have believed a word of it. But here I am, one of the few lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend GHC on two different continents!

I first heard about GHC through my fellow WISE members at Carleton University in Canada, where I was completing my Masters while working in the telecommunications industry. GHC 2010 proved to be a great learning and networking experience and when I made the decision to move to Bangalore this year, I regretted what I thought would be the lack of such forums for women in computing here in India. Cue the pleasant surprise at the fact that GHC India had been launched in 2010 and that planning was underway for the 2011 edition. I immediately got in touch with the folks at ABI and they were able to find a way for me to be involved as a volunteer. Woot!

In just half a day's worth of keynotes and sessions, I am already finding that the essence of the conference remains the same whether it be in the US or in India - a celebration of the achievements and capabilities of women in computing, a conference with superior sessions on technology, management, and personal/professional development, and, most importantly, a forum for technical women to meet each other.

I'm so glad to be back at GHC and am looking forward to all the next two days have in store!

I will be blogging and tweeting(@shrutsats) throughout the conference as well as posting session notes on the conference wiki.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What to Pack for GHC North America

Whether it's your first Grace Hopper Celebration or your fifth, every conference is a new experience, so we've put together a short list of "must pack" items to make sure that you come prepared for this year's conference in Portland!

1. Umbrella and Rain Gear We're expecting rain in Portland in November, so be sure to come prepared with an umbrella, rain coat, boots, or anything else that you need to keep yourself dry on your way to and from the Oregon Convention Center.

2. Layers, layers, layers With outdoor temperatures in Portland currently predicated in the range of 41*F to 52*F (5*C to 11*C) for the conference days, and the convention center indoor temperature set to 72*F (22*C), you'll want to have plenty of layers to keep warm and adjust accordingly. During our planning trip in August, we found the convention center chillier than expected, so you'll want to have layers to wear indoors as well.

3. Business Cards and Resume
In order to follow up on those connections you'll be making at the Grace Hopper Celebration, be sure to bring along your business cards. Take stock now to make sure you have plenty and then don't forget to pack them in your bag. And be sure to bring copies of your resume to have on hand when you visit exhibit booths and speak with sponsors.

4. Comfortable Shoes
With packed conference days, you'll want to have comfortable shoes to keep you on your feet and walking around the convention center. You'll also want to be sure to wear comfortable shoes to Sponsor Night on Friday so that you can dance to our DJ!

5. Camera
Capture all of the memories--don't forget to bring your camera to the conference.

6. Laptop... Or Just Visit the Cyber Center
Many attendees choose to bring their laptops to the Grace Hopper Celebration, and there will be free wireless internet sponsored by Juniper Networks. If you decide not to, you can access the internet and use a computer at the Cyber Center in Exhibit Hall C, sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute.

Are there any recommendations you would add?

Your GH11 Presentation is Ready -- Now It’s Time to Practice

I’m guessing that most of us have pretty much completed preparations for our Grace Hopper presentations, right? For myself, I have thought a lot about my audience and I’ve made decisions about how much I will be able to say -- and say well -- in the hour that I have been allotted. What now? My presentation is on Friday. I’m done, right? Well --- now it’s time to practice.

There are two fundamental ways to practice: 1) silently and 2) aloud. The first way involves a review of your presentation in your own head. We all do this a lot before we present because it helps us feel comfortable with our story and because we think that we will be less likely to forget what we want to say if we go over and over things in our minds. It is easy to practice this way because we can give ourselves a silent presentation anywhere and anytime.

The second way of practicing asks more of us and leads to different results. I will be very direct here -- I believe that you must practice your talk aloud in order to deliver an authentic and well-paced presentation. And you must practice in a way that simulates the context in which you will speak. (It would probably be ideal if we could all practice giving our talks to a real audience in a real meeting room, but most of us are not that lucky. No worries -- make a commitment to practicing aloud and know that you are preparing yourself for a great result.)

Find a space where you can set up your laptop and project your visuals. I have practiced this way in my living room where the visuals are projected on the wall; and I have practiced this way in a hotel room. Even if you are not able to project the visuals during your rehearsal, you can set up your laptop and use it in the same way that you will use it during your talk. Being comfortable with the physical things you will do during your presentation is very important -- almost as important as being familiar with your story.

Practice introducing yourself and getting into the talk; practice moving around; practice your gestures; practice with the laser pointer if you will use one; figure out when to advance to a new visual and practice the verbal transitions; see how it feels to look around to all parts of the room; play with volume and speed. Also be sure that you time yourself during your rehearsals so that you know where you are and where you want to be during each section of your presentation.

In addition to practicing aloud in a “real” context, you can practice aloud to an invisible listener while riding your bicycle, while cooking, while in the shower. You will be able to hear the speed, the pauses, and the flow in a way that you cannot hear these details when the story is a silent one. Any time you speak aloud, even to yourself, you are incorporating the physical and sensory aspects of presenting, and you are preparing yourself for the real experience of transforming thoughts and ideas into a spoken story.

Have fun with your preparations and rehearsals. I will see you next week in Portland!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting the Most out of Twitter for Grace Hopper!

I admit it, I'm addicted to Twitter. The social media site where you can share your thoughts in 140 characters or less.  This tool is a very powerful one for conferences. It's a great way to connect with other people you're attending sessions with, follow along on a another session you just couldn't make it to, and capture great quotes from speakers.

This year at the conference, there's only one official hashtag: #ghc11. Speakers are encouraged to suggest additional hashtags for their session, but we do ask everyone to always use #ghc11, as well.

As you can see on the Grace Hopper Bloggers site, we scroll the live #ghc11 feed on the right hand side. Another great way to see what everyone is saying at the conference is to use TwitterFall and just watch all tweets tagged with #ghc11 scroll by in a tab in your browser.

You can also use your Twitter client to follow the Twitter list of GHC11 attendees.

I've been able to meet up with like-minded women in the industry when I've seen a woman tweet about an evening meet up in a nearby bar or restaurant. This is a great way to network and meet new people.  To make it easier to meet people, update your profile picture to something recent.

If you've already got a slew of followers, you may want to let them know you'll be going to a conference, so your tweet volume will increase greatly.  A lot of my followers, though, enjoy participating in the conference vicariously through my feed.

If you're new to Twitter, check out Ashley's post to the blog last year that will help you get set up and teach you all of the Twitter lingo! (Note: we don't have all those other hashtags mentioned in last year's post, we've simplified!) BJ also had a great post on Twitter, too.

You can find the official Grace Hopper Twitter account at @ghc and me @bubbva.   Stop in and say "hi" to us!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PhDoula: Five do-overs since my first Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing

This post originally appeared on the blog PhDoula and is re-posted here with permission from the author, Alexandra Holloway.

Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing is an annual event bringing together thousands of women from different technical computing specialties and at different stages of their career. Attendees include undergraduates considering computer science as a major, graduate students choosing their research direction, recent graduates looking for a job, women in industry, professors, researchers, and recruiters. It is a diverse, funky, exciting, inspiring, and nurturing environment of two thousand women, all of whom are smart, brilliant, beautiful, and different in their own right.

This year will be my fourth time attending, which makes me a Grace Hopper veteran. I first heard about Grace Hopper Celebration from my room mate from CRA-W Grad Cohort -- a similar but much smaller mentoring program for graduate student women -- when I asked my room mate how on earth she knew all these people. She was saying "Hi," calling people by name, and giving hugs to everybody!

"How do you know everyone already?" I asked her.

"Some women I know from last year's Grad Cohort," she replied. "But some women I see basically twice a year: at the Grad Cohort and then again at Grace Hopper Celebration."

"What's that?" I asked. Casually hiding her surprise that I had neer heard of Grace Hopper Celebration, she explained it to me, and that night in our hotel room I looked it up and bookmarked it.

When Grace Hopper Celebration came around that year, my advisor asked if there are any women that would like to go, because our university was a sponsor and received a few spaces for student attendees. Of course, I replied immediately in the affirmative, and off I went!

Now that I have been three times to Grace Hopper Celebration (this year will mark my third time as a contributor) and twice to the CRA-W Grad Cohort, I can look back on my first Grace Hopper Celebration visit a bit critically.

My first year, Grace Hopper Celebration was held in Keystone, Colorado, a small resort town situated in the mountains among an aspen forest. The trees were just starting to turn in ones and twos: blots of color among a sea of green leaves. I was driven from the airport in a shuttle and looked out onto the picturesque landscape with wide eyes. I was young, impressionable, and pregnant.

Yup, I was about 24 weeks along in my pregnancy. I knew I was carrying a boy, and I had just returned from a trip abroad -- a delayed honeymoon -- before having time to buy clothes that fit me. My belly had just started getting too big for my pants. It happened so suddenly that I was ill-prepared, wardrobe-wise, for the change in my figure. I was a hot mess, unbuttoning my jeans and praying that my fitted t-shirts did not bust into holes stretched over my growing belly. When my mother saw me at the airport on my return from Grace Hopper, she was shocked at my fashion sense, but at the time, I figured that is just an extension of the typical graduate student lifestyle. Right? Please tell me I am right.

Anyway, back to the point -- I could have done a better job. As an early(ish) graduate student, my main role was to be receptive to mentoring and to meet people that would help me in my career path. I see that now, in hindsight, but at the time I did not recognize these goals. Here were my top five mistakes from the first year. Every year I go back, I get a do-over and do my best to avoid these.

Do-Over #5. Eat lunch and dinner.

At CRA-W Grad Cohort, one of the rules was that no two women from the same university could sit together at lunch. You had to learn to network, and to meet other women. But here, at Grace Hopper Celebration, there was no such rule, and even if there was, there is no way to enforce it with 2000 attendees. So attendees would sit with the people they knew more often than not, and I, seeing this social norm, followed suit. Not a good idea. Now I know that it is best to sit at a table where you know no one. Even better: sit at a table where you know no one, and everyone is different from you. Is everyone older? They have more experience. Is everyone younger? Maybe they have questions. But if everyone is exactly like you, there is no way you can broaden your experience. Challenge yourself.

Do-Over #4. Use the room mate.

I was at Grace Hopper Celebration on an underwriter scholarship, and, like all scholarship recipients, I had a room mate. Actually, in this year, we were in a three-room cabin in the mountains of Keystone, Colorado, and I had two house mates. My house mates were amazing. They asked me about pregnancy and married life, about the proverbial work-life balance (as if there is one), about what I will do once I have the baby (hint: stay in school). On our last night in Colorado, we all went shopping to the outlets nearby and my lovely room mates bought me a shirt that actually covered my entire front. Maybe it is silly, but I was moved.

But most of the day, my house mates (who knew each other) would be off on their own, and, in pregnancy-related discomfort (more on this later), I left them to themselves. I did not go to see their posters at the poster session; I did not ask for introductions to other women; I did not sit with them and their colleagues at lunch. But this was wrong. Use your room mate (or room mates, if you are lucky enough to have two) -- use them as mentors if they are more experienced at Grace Hopper Celebration than you are; use them as friends if they are new like you; use them as a sounding-board for your elevator pitch for your research.

My room mates approached me on the second day and said, with a sly grin, "We are thinking of taking a drive up to the summit, instead of one of the sessions. Are you in?" I considered for a moment, wondering if it is OK to skip sessions, and if we could leave the conference grounds without arousing suspicion among the organizers. Hesitating a little, I said that it sounds like great fun, and that I would certainly come.

As we arrived to the summit, the weather shifted dramatically, from cool and clear autumn to cold and foggy winter. Not another person and not another vehicle was within sight: it was just us. It began to snow in large, fluffy flakes. The electricity in the air made our hair stand straight up, and lightning bolts noiselessly crashed all around us. We giggled and photographed and huddled in our insufficient jackets -- and bonded. We formed relationships which would survive the test of time and geography -- relationships we could later fall back on in our professional and personal lives, because we had this shared experience.

Do-Over #3. Couch potato networking.

During the course of Grace Hopper Celebration, my baby, whom I called Galahad ever since knowing I was pregnant, grew as well. I would like to think it is because of my rock hard abs that, one day into the Celebration, I started getting rib pain. My ribs were expanding to fit my high-carried fetus and I was in pain from the pressure in my ribcage from about noon until I went to bed every night. I did not tell anybody (except my amazing room mates) because I had never enjoyed complaining, especially to strangers. Even strangers that are there for the express purpose of caring for and mentoring me.

Half the day, my ribs would hurt so much that I could not sit up. Sometimes I would go back to my room and lie down; other times, I would sprawl out sideways on one of the low arm chairs in the conference area and try not to moan. Both of these were missed networking opportunities. Now I see that it is OK to sprawl in pain rather than attend a session, as long as I am doing something to further my career.

See, I had no idea where my academic career was going. Here I was, not even half-way through my first pregnancy, not even two years through grad school, and with no idea where my research interests were. Every class I took was fascinating for the first three weeks; every project I undertook was interesting only for the first half. I knew I was a fantastic teacher but had never undertaken any serious research project. I knew I wanted to be a professor eventually -- but a professor of what? How do you find the one thing that really turns you on?

These are all questions that, though they cannot be answered by someone else, they can point you and your mind and heart into a direction. Other women's experiences can influence how you experience yourself. Maybe I am getting a little hippy-dippy. But my point is that I was not using this time to the best of my abilities. I could have been meeting women in a higher position than myself and asking for advice; I could have been meeting my future mentor; I could have been learning with others, rather than suffering alone!

Do-Over #2. Tell your secret.

Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones talking, but I posted an anonymous advertisement on the bulletin board:
Looking to connect with other pregnant graduate students and those with kids.
I added my e-mail address and hoped for the best. The truth is that I did not know what I was looking for. Support? Advice? Encouragement? I did not have any concrete questions but I wanted to know that I was not alone, that my experience was not unique. In some ways, I suppose, I wanted validation. I wanted someone to say, "I know things will get rough, but you can do it, because I did it." Though I did receive a few notes, mainly by other participants pinning replies to the same bulletin board, I never replied to them, in part because I did not know what I wanted to say, and in part because I did not want to give away my secret.

I had only told my room mates, and mentioned it once at lunch. One of the women, another student, lit up: "Do you have maternity leave at your university?" I answered honestly that I did not know. She persisted: "You know, it should be covered by the union. They bargained for it just last year. It is brand new this year. You should look it up." After lunch, she and I both went to the computers and found the relevant sections. She was glad to help me, and I was glad for the help, because until then, I had never considered my rights and my future as an employee of the university.

It was not until the last hour of the last day, when several of us were loading the bus, that I told one more person about my pregnancy. She was a young woman with a large baby, and introduced herself as a professor. We chatted briefly about pregnancy, and exchanged information. It seemed so natural and inconsequential at the time -- especially as I had such a reverence for professors because of what I now see was mild impostor syndrome -- but I was calmed by her easy nature and friendly manner. This small event which I had put out of my mind as an impossibility because of the difference in rank, this easy exchange of words and information, this event was probably the best thing that happened to me at Grace Hopper Celebration that year. Today, the professor who befriended me continues to mentor and support me through my final years of graduate school. I told my secret to the best person I could possibly meet.

Do-Over #1. Meet the speakers.

I had attended a great many talks, but one in particular still speaks to me today. It was a talk I had heard before, at CRA-W, given by a graduate student that had changed direction several times in the course of her studies. She was explaining the same feelings I was having: She would take an introductory class and enjoy it immensely, but not enjoy the follow-up class. It took her a long time to find a dissertation topic. She explained several ways that dissertation topics come into existence: the extended course project, the advisor's list of unfinished work, the stroke of genius, and others. She struck me as someone I would love to be friends with -- but she was so smart! so accomplished! What would I have to offer by speaking with her?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Now that I am also a speaker at Grace Hopper Celebration, I know that speakers are people too. I love it when people attend my talks, and I love it even more when they stay afterwards to tell me that the talk was useful to them, my nervousness did not show, or even that my animation skills in the slides were top-notch. Which, I assure you, they are not. I love it when people tweet about my talk. I love it when people come to ask me for advice, or ask for my contact information in the case they have questions about something I said. I love just knowing that someone, somewhere, was affected by my talk.

I did approach this particular speaker, and I told her that I had heard her talk before and I really admired her. She was surprised: "What, me?" Laughing heartily, she chatted with me about grad school, clearly expressing that she considered us equals. She and I are still friends today.

Since then, I make it a point to meet every speaker that inspires me. Even if she is the president of some fancy corporation, or the first author of an influential paper, or simply the woman that said something that really resonated with me. I introduce myself and say, "What you said just now, I really took to heart. Thank you for a great talk." If we happen to meet again, I can say, "We met at Grace Hopper last year. I loved your talk." This usually leads to an invitation to join her lunch table, which -- by the way -- I always gladly accept.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn at GHC11

LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other professionals, but what if you're a student with little or no experience? I covered the basics of setting up a good LinkedIn profile last year, but some of my suggestions didn't always work for students.

Good news! LinkedIn has added some new features this year to make it easier for students to have a more complete profile than ever before.

The basics still apply: add a photo, use your full name, add your educational experience. All of those things will make your profile look more like it's owned by an actual human, and not a spam bot, which will make people more willing to connect with you and interact with you on various groups.  Also, it will make it easier for someone you've just met at a conference to know, in fact, that your profile matches up with the person they just had lunch with.

If you're a student with little experience, you can still list what type of work you're interested in doing in your summary. You can add a section that lists your favorite courses. You should expand on what some of your favorite courses were and why. You can do this in the summary.  Don't just say that you enjoyed your data structures and algorithms class, but talk about how you loved figuring out what the Big O value was for various algorithms, for example.

LinkedIn added volunteer positions and causes this year. Do you tutor high school students? Or help out in a middle school computer lab? Add those to your profile.

Did you get a patent for that work you did with a professor? There's a place for that, too.

LinkedIn has a new section for linking to papers and publications you may have written, as well as a section for honors, awards and organizations.

And don't forget about the skills section!

The more information you have on your profile, the more likely people are going to be to accept you to groups and be willing to link in with you.  I love to link up with people I meet at Grace Hopper, as it's a one stop shop for who they are, where they went to school and where they are currently working. It's just a great way to maintain your professional contacts.

And once you get everything set up, join the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology group and the Grace Hopper Celebration subgroup.

Did I miss anything? What new features of LinkedIn are you getting the most value out of?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Keeping up With Facebook for GHC 2011

With all of the new features and security options facebook now offers it is difficult to know what your options for staying safe, yet utilizing the social network to its fullest extent. The easiest way to see all of the security features available to you is to check out the info graphic released by facebook below, see the facebook security page for a better view of this graphic.

Which of these security features are important and how can you still be visible professionally while at GHC11? Just remember a few simple guidelines before sharing on our facebook page :
  • Never give your password out to anyone
  • Never post personal or financial information on a wall or discussion, if you need to share this information do it through a direct message
  • Be wary of those with incomplete profiles, on a side note, if you are signing up for a facebook account for GHC11 socializing make sure you complete enough information so that it will be useful to socialize with. More on this in next weeks post.
  • Never make your screen name the same as your email addresses
Do you have some more tips about being safe while social networking on facebook? Post them here in the comments and share.

Until next time!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Organizing Your Talk for Grace Hopper 2011

Sometimes the task of organizing a talk seems more challenging than the material that you will talk about. Here are some things that might be helpful as you prepare your Grace Hopper 2011 presentations -

1. Story

Compose a logical story for your audience. Select the precise body of material you want your audience to learn and “know” as a result of attending your talk or panel -- include only the content that is directly applicable to this particular talk. Divide your story into the sections that you will cover, like “introduction,” “concept 1,” “concept 2,” “questions and answers,” and so on.

2. Backward buildup

Backward buildup is a way of thinking about your talk from the perspective of what you would like the audience to understand by the time you finish speaking. Distributing your content in the backwards direction ensures that your story ends where and when you intend, that each section is balanced and builds to the conclusion, and that the story in its entirety “fits” within the time you have been allotted.

Working backwards from the end of your talk, assign a chunk of time to each section of the story. Work all the way back to the first minute of the talk. Example - “My total time is 1 hour. I want the audience to understand 5 aspects of rhetorical positioning -- audience, purpose, genre, tone, and style; I want to discuss a sample text; I will end with questions and answers.” From the end of the talk to the beginning, the sections in the example talk are -


8 Questions and Answers 10 minutes

7 Group analysis of a text 18 minutes

6 Style 5 minutes

5 Tone 5 minutes

4 Genre 10 minutes

3 Purpose 5 minutes

2 Audience 5 minutes

1 Introduction 2 minutes

60 minutes total

As you work through the backward buildup process, you may find that there is not enough time for all of the material you wanted to cover. If this happens, go back and delete the non-essential stuff, and repeat the backward buildup until you have a solid time plan that embraces your material. The sequence of topics in each section and the articulation across sections should have a logical flow.

3. Timing

All of the sections, including the question and answer period, must add up to no more than the total number of minutes allotted for your talk. When organizing the timing, you must account for possible technical problems, ideas that come to you in real time, and appropriate anecdotes, so leave some breathing room in your plan. Your talk should be thorough, interesting, and maybe even inspiring!

4. Selection of visuals

Go back to your story and the timed sections. Ask: “Are there any visuals that will help elucidate this section?” If no, move on and tell that part of the story without visuals -- audiences love this approach. If yes, then select only the visuals that advance your story. Maintain your love and attachment to other slides you may have prepared, but use only the slides that promote understanding and inspiration of your audience’s experience.

5. Visuals

The guiding principles when incorporating a slide into your talk is that the slide must advance your discussion, it must add an illustration and representation of an important concept, and it must be crystal clear. Each visual should be easy to navigate and understand from the point of view of the audience member. Don't crowd your slides -- “Less is more.” The language on each slide should be grammatically perfect; choose a font and use it consistently; build the slide from left to right and top to bottom.

6. Delivery

Have fun and don’t rush. Do not repeat -- keep things moving forward. And think about this perspective: You are the reason the participants are there; your connection with the material and with the audience is the important ingredient. It does not matter one bit if you delete a few details from your talk. It is more important to respond to questions and points of interest that the participants raise -- they have traveled long distances to learn from you and they deserve your direct attention.

7. Enjoyment

Your presentation experience at Grace Hopper 2011 should be as enjoyable for you as it is for your audience members!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Call For Volunteer Wiki Note Takers and Bloggers

Will you be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011? Are you already going to be taking notes or blogging about the sessions you attend?

If you answered yes to these questions then consider signing up to post your notes or blogs for the sessions you are interested in. Here's how to sign up, it's super easy:
  1. Head over to our wiki and create an account if you do not already have one.
  2. Fill out your user profile by talking about what communities you plan on being involved in, see mine or Valeries for an example.
  3. Head back on over to the wiki ghc2011 page and click edit on the day that you wish to sign up for a session.
  4. Replace the Sign Up text with your name linking to your profile in the correct cell of the table for the session you wish to blog or take notes on. (Here is an example of how to link to your profile page [[User:Bubbva|Valerie]] replace Bubbava with your user name and Valerie with your name)
  5. It is a good idea to preview your changes before saving them
And Voila! you are all signed up. We need to get as many of the sessions covered as possible so please take some time to figure out your schedule before the conference and sign up.

In order to give you an idea of what we are looking for, Note-takers will add their notes directly on the wiki using the wiki markup language, and these should be factual notes of what was actually said in the session. Bloggers will blog on their own blogs anything they like and edit the session wiki page to link to their blog from their.

If you do sign up, be sure to post your notes as soon as possible after the session because we have many followers who are not able to make it to this years GHC and we want to keep them well fed with new and updated content as the conference goes on.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Taking Advantage of Flickr for Grace Hopper 2011

Wanna know how to find all those photos people are going to take of you during the conference? Check out the Flickr GHC 2011 Group and the groups from 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010!

If you do not yet have a Flickr account it’s easy to set one up, after all why not share all the pictures you took with all of the new friends you are going to make?

Here are a few how-to's to help you get started with Flickr.
How to get an account on Flickr if you don't already have one:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on the "Sign Up Now" button
  3. If you happen to already have a Yahoo!, Google or  Facebook account you can login with those options, or if you prefer you can click “Create New Account”
  4. Fill in the info and click "Create My Account" and follow any remaining instructions.
How can I upload my photos?
1.      By email! Go to and get your very own private email upload address.
2.      Through the website .
3.      Download a mobile app! Go to and find apps for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, iPad, or any mobile device using the internet through
What can I do with Flickr?
  1. Add photos to your own profile.
  2. Join and add photos to a group.
  3. Link to or embed photos into other social media.
  4. Edit photos.
  5. Share photos and more
For additional details you can read last years GHC Flickr blog entry, take the Official Flickr tour, or leave comments on this post with specific questions. I look forward to seeing you all on Flickr.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Great Presentations

Hello fellow presenters!

Those of us who will be giving talks at Grace Hopper 2011 are starting to think about what we are going to say and how we should prepare. We are checking our submission abstracts to remind ourselves of what we said we would talk about, and we are hoping to deliver on our promises to be worthy of the privilege of addressing a GH11 crowd. Some of us are thinking that we are a bit nervous about the whole idea of standing in front of an audience of brilliant friends and colleagues and sharing our ideas. What a huge responsibility, we think to ourselves. And at the same time, we think -- What a huge opportunity; and how much fun can this whole thing be for me?

For sure, there are a lot of details to consider when putting together a conference talk, whether we are a member of a panel of speakers or presenting by ourselves. And while a laundry list of reminder points is definitely not the way I think about presentation skills (I think about presenting a story as being much like a beautiful tapestry where many individual threads are woven together to produce a unique and creative work of art), perhaps it is helpful to mention some of these threads. So here are three things to think about as you begin your GH11 presentation preparations:

• Perhaps the most critical consideration will be the idea of what you will actually be able to talk about within the specific amount of time you have been given for your presentation. Choices must be made about what you must say to advance your story; which details are absolutely essential; which details are nice but not necessary to say because there is not enough time. Once you have made your choices, your story must be crafted so that it can unfold within your given time frame in a manner that is not rushed. So don’t try to tell a 90-minute story in 60 minutes by speaking faster and whizzing through your visuals. Work it out beforehand and stick to your game plan.

• Think deeply about your audience. Ask -- Who are they and how much do they probably know about my topic? Should I organize my story for a very narrow and specialist group or for a broadly defined group? The answers to these questions will guide you to prepare a story that has enough background and context so that your meaning will be clear. You may have to take time to explain some technical concepts that seem obvious to you but which may be new to many of your listeners. Remember that the people in your audience have traveled from all over the world and have made a choice to attend your talk. Return the respect by communicating a clear, logical, and interesting story that your audience members will understand, enjoy, and remember.

• We must partner our story with excellent delivery. Giving a talk is not simply a chance to unload a bunch of information. Giving an excellent talk is about connecting with your audience and sharing new knowledge that is meaningful to you and hopefully interesting and even inspiring to them. We can be excellent speakers by being as rehearsed and prepared as we can be, and by being our best, most excellent, enthusiastic, and authentic selves. Specifically, we must take care of things like volume; the clarity of everything we say, even the ends of utterances; eye contact; movement and gestures; how we face our audience, our laptop, our visuals, how we use notes to maintain at all times the connection with the audience; um-um-ums and uh-uh-uhs; how quickly or slowly we speak; and whether or not we smile even if we are nervous.

All of the ideas mentioned here are equally important and challenging for both native speakers of English and non-native speakers of English. Being a native speaker does not confer upon a presenter the privileged and automatic abilities of excellent story and excellent delivery. While our non-native speaker friends have the obvious huge hurdles of tackling the creation and delivery of a story in their second language, the underlying principles are the same as for native speaker friends. All of us have the same commitment to excellence and all of us strive to make memorable contributions to Grace Hopper 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Finding a Job at the Grace Hopper Celebration North America

The Grace Hopper Celebration is a great place to find a job or internship. The conference features a three-hour Career Fair with over 70 recruiting organizations, as well as exhibit booths that are open all conference long and interview booths for job and internship positions. If you are looking for your next internship or job position, here are some tips to make the most of your conference experience.

1. Update Your Resume: Showcase yourself and your accomplishments on your resume. Make sure that is up to date and reflects all of your current experiences and skills. Check out our article with tips on preparing and optimizing your resume.

2. Upload Your Resume to the Resume Database: Sponsors are now beginning to access the Resume Database, so upload your resume now if it's not there already. Conference sponsors look through the Resume Database to find candidates to interview for job and internship positions while at GHC. Don't miss out; upload your resume today.

3. Visit Exhibit Booths and Bring Printed Copies of Your Resume to GHC: Talk to company representatives, find out about open positions, and learn about daily life at these organizations during the Career Fair on Wednesday, November 9, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Stop back at sponsor booths on Thursday and Friday to speak again with recruiters, ask questions, and make an impression. Be sure to bring printed copies of your resume, as well as business cards, with you to hand out to recruiters.

4. Refer to the Conference Job Book: The GHC Job Book is your guide to the organizations recruiting at the conference. The Job Book features company profiles and details about open positions, desired education level of candidates, and more. The Job Book will be published before the conference, so familiarize yourself with it before you arrive at GHC, pick out several organizations to target, and come prepared. We'll feature an article on the Job Book in the newsletter when it is published.

5. Network: With over 3,000 attendees expected at this year's GHC, you will have the opportunity to meet technical women and men from many organizations, in various types of positions, with different specializations. You never know who you might end up talking to or where that connection could lead. Be proactive about meeting other conference attendees. A connection you make at the conference could lead to your next friendship, professional collaboration, or job position. We'll be running an article about networking closer to the conference, so watch for more tips about mastering the skill.

For those of you who have found work at previous Grace Hopper conferences, what advice would you add?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A View from the GHC 2011 Panels, Workshops, and Presentations (PWP) Co-Chair

Anticipation is building for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011 Conference! The “What if?” conference theme sparked many, many fascinating proposals. I was fortunate to serve as industry co-chair with Elizabeth Jessup (University of Colorado at Boulder). The challenge for our committee was to whittle down the two hundred or so proposals that spanned a wide range of topics to a bit over forty. I’d like to share some insights into the process and seed some preparation for this year’s attendance.

Diversity in participants/perspective

One of the biggest challenges that the Anita Borg Institute faces each year in preparation for GHC is how to best serve the community of women in technology. We have amazing participation from women who serve in a variety of roles across the spectrum of technology. Industrial attendees come not only from computing and IT backgrounds, but also from financial, insurance, defense, and banking industries, at all rungs of the organizational ladder. Computing itself spans many academic disciplines, including biology, medicine, engineering, and education, and we have undergraduate, graduate, and faculty representation, including many distinguished academics. We have K-12 teachers who are dedicated to bringing computing into the classroom and fundamentally changing the way the world thinks about computation. We have international as well as national participation, and thus our community is quite diverse. That is the beauty of GHC – it is truly a celebration of women in computing. Whether you consider yourself technical or not, whether you are industry, government, defense, entrepreneur, academic or K-12, whatever your gender -- we put our differences and self-interests aside and unite into a community that spans across boundaries, languages, cultures, technologies, and disciplines.

Our tasks as PWP co-chairs and the review process

Liz and I had to first and foremost assemble a sub-committee of PWP reviewers, done in late 2010. We invited women from across industry, academia, and national labs to participate. We chose both senior and junior women, national and international, PhD students, and women of color. Several of our reviewers were working mothers (some very recently so), juggling motherhood, work, and a desire to contribute to the conference in a meaningful way; all have served mentors and advocates, and are very active in their fields and communities. Serving as a reviewer came with a commitment to review around twenty proposals each and provide useful feedback (with a bit lighter load for the new moms). Liz and I did our best to match assignments to skill and interest sets, and our committee worked diligently after the submission deadline in mid-March to hit the review deadline in mid-April. Liz and I took a first pass at the rankings to group proposals into one or two specific tracks and set a bar for acceptance. After feedback and review by the committee (both via email and teleconference calls), we had a program ready to be reviewed by the GHC Steering Committee, who made the final decision on conference content.

One of the first insights into this role was the challenge of assembling a diverse set of panelists and presenters on a short timeline. Second was making good assignments, and third was once the ratings were in, how to put topics that would appeal to a large enough number of attendees into relevant tracks, and together, form a cohesive and engaging program. This is where preparation for GHC 2011 comes into play. You might have had a proposal that was not accepted for a previous conference, but with a bit of tweaking and some diversity, networking, and collaboration, you could turn it into a successful GHC 2012 submission.

Getting the most from the actual conference

The program schedule has been published and one of the things we recommend doing in advance is to plan each day of attendance. Add the sessions you are interested in to your calendar with enough detail so you can make a decision quickly (add the list of panelists, the room, and the abstract; you might consider double or triple booking a time slot). Identify people you would like to meet, and familiarize yourself with the layout of the conference rooms so you can move from one session to another in a timely manner. Make time to sit with people you don’t know rather than staying within the comfort zone of your cohorts or colleagues. It’s just as important to listen as it is to share your voice. Offer your experience, insights, and sometimes, even a shoulder to lean on. Learn from the experiences of others and share these experiences upon your return so that the collective wisdom continues to grow as our communities grow. Take with you your newly expanded network to develop a proposal for GHC 2012.

If you think something is broken, help us fix it!

It was a difficult process to choose program content, because what is best from one perspective may not be best from another. There were many proposals that we agonized over, as we strived for balance across many viewpoints. Harder still was sending out letters of rejection, and responding to specific inquiries, hence our desire to add transparency to the process of identifying compelling conference content. GHC 2012 will bring new opportunities to participate on a variety of committees and in a wealth of roles. Identify a role you would be interested in exploring and talk to us, to the GHC staff, and to people you trust and respect. Roll your sleeves up and make a commitment to sharing your insights and concerns, growing our community, and improving the offerings for next year. We invite your feedback and participation. Help us make GHC even better next year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Three Ways You Can Take a Deserving Applicant off the GHC Scholarships Waiting List

Yesterday 178 happy applicants received the news that they are receiving scholarships to attend the 2011 Grace Hopper Conference to be held November 9-12 in Portland, Oregon. However, another 150 applicants received the news that they are on the scholarship waiting list, dependent on additional funding. That's why I'm taking the unusual step of doing a fundraising post here on the GHC blog.

There are three ways that you can help take a deserving applicant off that waiting list:
Why should you invest in a GHC scholarship? If you've been following our Scholarship Spotlight posts on the conference website, you know that these scholarships are high-impact:
  • Kiara Williams' work as Student Coordinator for the Indiana Celebration of Women in Computing (INWIC) led to a scholarship to attend Grace Hopper 2010 in Atlanta. The help she received on her resume at GHC 2010 led to interviews and a job at Microsoft.
  • Amantha Lott is minoring in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) so she used her scholarship to attend sessions on the HCI track at GHC 2010, including a tour of the Georgia Tech HCI facility. 
  • Inspired by GHC 2010, Valentina de Rosa helped launched a gender issues commission at her university in Italy. Participating in the conference also led to interviewing for a dream job with Google.
  • Nanditha Iyer has been an active member of the GHC India planning committee since it began. Her scholarship to GHC 2010 in Atlanta helped her get accepted for graduate work at Georgia Tech.
No donation is too small. I'll keep you posted on how many additional scholarships we are able to fund. 150 deserving applicants are waiting for your help. So what are you waiting for?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thinking about stories and why you write

At last year’s Grace Hopper Conference, I organized a panel that focused on the vital connection between the everyday work of computer scientists, engineers, researchers, industry professionals, and academicians, and the mastery of excellent written and spoken communication skills. The topic of the panel was a direct expression of my own experience teaching Academic Writing and Great Presentations at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University in New York -- It is crystal clear to me that our potential to affect change, mentor, and lead is directly aligned with how well we are able to develop and apply our language abilities.

Let’s begin with writing, and look at both what we write about and why we choose to write in the first place.

When I first started to teach academic writing, I would say to the students --- “The single most important part of the writing process is the writer’s understanding of the story she wants to tell her readers. But you all know the stories of your research work, so we won’t spend much time here -- Let’s move on to other issues of the writing process.” So on we went to discuss other ingredients of excellent writing, like audience, genre, transitions and flow, introductions, data commentaries, abstracts, word choice, grammar, editing strategies, and so on.

It didn’t take long for me to see that my assumption about “knowing the story” was not accurate. Many of us, and perhaps all of us at one point, struggle with the precision of our topics. What is the context for my story and where does my specific contribution fit in? What are the details that are necessary so that a reader will know what I mean? What is the best ordering for the unfolding of these details? What can I leave out? Where am I going with all of this -- what is my point?

Well, now I spend a lot of time talking about stories in my classes. In fact, my view is that it is the unhesitating commitment to your story that is the foundation for the clear communication of your ideas, and without this clarity in communication, you cannot expect your readers to understand your meaning. And why else do we write if not to communicate a specific meaning to our readers?

So having a story to tell is the key ingredient for the writing process. Decisions we make about what to say, how to organize our ideas logically, how to glue the ideas together so there is a flow, which specific words and phrases capture the precision that is required, how serious or humorous or collegial we want to sound and so on -- are decisions made for the sole purpose of advancing our story; making our point; and presenting our ideas so that our readers can follow our meaning and learn, be motivated, be inspired.

But how we approach the actual writing requires another kind of understanding. In my view, before we make the commitment to share our knowledge and ideas through our writing, and before we sit down to compose, we must look at our philosophy of writing. It is vital to examine your thoughts and convictions and develop a personal writing philosophy. You will rely on your philosophy to drive your approach to your composing, and you will find that you will always go back to your personal philosophy as you reflect on each and every choice you make as you write your story for your specific audience of readers.

Consider these questions:

1- Why do you write?

2- Why do your readers read?

3- What does it mean to create meaning and knowledge?

4- How does your writing contribute to the creation of meaning and knowledge?

5- What gives a paragraph its strength?

6- If your intentions in writing are, for example, to inform, motivate, challenge, expand, create meaning, create knowledge, and so on, what principles should you embrace in your writing? For example,

• Clarity - Why is it important in your writing and for your readers?

• Precision in word choice, logic, and expression - Why are these principles important in science writing?

• Readability - What is it and why should we care about it?

• Organization - Is there only one Way?

7- What does excellence in writing mean for science writing?

These questions ask you to consider a number of very important ingredients of excellent writing, including such things as audience and the type of reader you will write for; your purpose and intent; the language you choose; the flow and development of your argument; the standard of excellence that you embrace and the respect that you are willing to extend to your readers. All of these elements are deserving of your careful reflection, so that when you sit down to write you have a clear orientation and framework for the hard work of composing, redrafting, and refining of your story.

Going forward, my idea is to look at The Art and Craft of Writing and Speaking -- to consider some of the universal characteristics of written and spoken discourse that will be useful as we prepare for the exciting events of Grace Hopper 2011. So take some time to contemplate your feelings about the world of words -- and excellence in communication.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

‘Amazing Grace’ Hopper’s 2011 Milestones

This post by Bill Doughty originally appeared on the Navy Reads blog and is reposted here with Bill's gracious permission.

If she didn’t invent the computer revolution in the United States, Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper gave it a voice – and a language in which to communicate.

“Amazing Grace” Hopper (1906-1992) played a pivotal role in developing COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) and creating FLOW-MATIC (the first data processing language to use English).
She promoted computer standardization for the Navy with the Air Force and eventually throughout DoD. A lifelong inventor who preached common sense, she considered herself a discoverer rather than an inventor, according to Kathleen Broome Williams, author of Grace Hopper – Admiral of the Cyber Sea, recommended by the Navy Professional Reading Program.
Always unconventional in her thinking, Hopper scorned the customary and traditional, was impatient with the status quo, and approached problem solving with instinctive innovation.
In 2011, and especially in August, there are some significant Grace Hopper milestones to remember:

Eighty years ago, 1931, Hopper began teaching at Vassar College.
Seventy years ago, 1941, she earned a faculty fellowship at Vassar. On Dec. 7, 1941, there were no women serving as commissioned officers in the Navy, but Hopper wanted to joint the war effort. She became one of the earlyWAVES – Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service – during WWII and began working at Harvard on the Mark I computer (which was formally dedicated Aug. 7, 1944).
At the time, the few computers that existed in the world were the size of a room and were known as “computing machines.” The term “computer” was used for the women who operated the machines, entering data to generate calculations, according to Williams.
Sixty-five years ago, 1946, Hopper was promoted to lieutenant, recognized for her computer programming skills.
Sixty years ago, 1951, she began working on the world’s first compiler, completing it the following year. A compiler is a program or set of programs that transforms complex source code into a simpler code. Hopper’s invention or “discovery” was a fundamental contribution to the evolution of computing.
Grace Hopper helped develop COBOL.
In Grace Hopper – Admiral of the Cyber Sea, Williams takes us through “Amazing Grace’s” career. The author shows us that the biggest challenge Hopper faced was an established bureaucracy’s resistance to change, but many leaders in the Navy began to fully embrace the potential of computing between 1950 and 1960. In the 50s Hopper and her team developed some of the world’s first compiler-based languages for programming: ARITH-MATIC, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC; by the end of the decade she was playing a key leadership role in developing COBOL.
Fifty years ago, in August 1961, Hopper was promoted and appointed director of research in systems and programming for the Remington Road division of Sperry Rand.
Forty-five years ago, 1966, as Hopper was about to turn 60, then-Cmdr. Hopper received a letter from the Chief of Naval Personnel, asking her to apply for a resignation from the Navy due to her age and length of service. When she then retired, Hopper called it, “the saddest day of my life.”
But, on August 1, 1967, the Navy recalled her from the Reserves to active duty. The computer age was accelerating.
Thirty-five years ago, August 1976
Hopper, who wrote curriculum for the Navy’s “A” and “C” schools (basic and advanced training) and set up an operational analysis division for the Bureau of Naval Personnel, was now a recognized leader in computer science and the information technology revolution.
Forty years ago, in August 1971, 12,000 copies of Hopper’s manual, Fundamentals of COBOL, had been sold – 25 years after she’d worked on the Mark I.
Williams describes Hopper’s principal role working with the Air Force, Secretary of Defense and Government Services Administration to standardize computer language throughout federal agencies.
On August 2, 1973 Hopper was promoted to Captain.
She continued to be a teacher, mentor and recruiter for the Navy in the 70s and early-mid 80s. Then, 25 years ago, on Aug. 14, 1986, Grace Hopper retired a second time, at the rank of Rear Admiral. Her retirement was held aboard USS Constitution in Boston Harbor. She was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Twenty years ago, on Sept. 16, 1991, Grace Hopper was awarded the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor of its type in the United States. (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are other recipients of the medal, now known as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.) Williams reports what President George H. W. Bush said at the time, that it was Hopper who “pioneered the revolution that put personal computers on the desks of millions of Americans – and dragged even this president into the computer age.”
The voice of Navy’s computer revolution was silenced when Hopper passed away on New Year’s Day in 1992.
Fifteen years ago, during the summer of 1996, Sailors – men and women – began reporting aboard a new guided missile destroyer bearing Hopper’s name. USS Hopper (DDG 70), “Amazing Grace,”was commissioned Sept. 6, 1997. The Arleigh Burke class destroyer, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hi, is equipped with state-of-the-art computerized systems.
Author Williams achieves both a history of the development of computing in the Navy and a look at the professional milestones of this dynamic woman whose voice continues to echo decades later.
On July 30, 2009 USS Hopper (DDG 70) launches a standard missile (SM) 3 Blk IA, successfully intercepting a sub-scale short range ballistic missile, launched from the Kauai Test Facility, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kauai. (U.S. Navy photo)

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