GHC 2016: Why We’re Returning to Houston

GHC 2016: Why We’re Returning to Houston

By Mona Sabet
Vice President, General Manager at Grace Hopper Celebration

Since I announced that GHC 2016 would take place in Houston, I’ve received several questions about why AnitaB.org decided to host the conference in Texas again next year. I have been surprised by the passion with which people ask.

There are so many great cities across the country that would love to host such an impactful and inspiring conference. That said, Houston wasn’t just a random choice. Here are some of the factors that went into our decision to host GHC 2016 in Houston.

Population & Diversity

Texas is home to 27 million people – that’s more than 8 percent of the country! And Houston is the most racially and ethnically diverse large metro area in the U.S., according to Census data. Houston’s huge, diverse population is a big reason we’re coming back for GHC next year. We’re excited to continue to engage the state’s growing population of women technologists, government agencies and corporate leaders to advance our mission.

Job Creation

Houston is also the country’s number 1 job creator and home to a large number of Fortune 500 companies that employ many technologists. Houston is also home to the NASA astronaut corps — arguably one of the most innovative government agencies. It was such an honor to hear from a panel of senior women who work at the Johnson Space Center at GHC 2015.

Academic & Government Institutions

Texas is also home to many prestigious colleges and universities, and we were thrilled to see 27 of them bring 450 attendees and represent their programs at the 2015 GHC career fair.

We were also fortunate and honored to host Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker, one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. Mayor Parker graciously welcomed AnitaB.org, GHC and spoke at the conference’s LGBTQ Luncheon.

GHC 2016 in Houston

The city of Houston did an incredible job welcoming AnitaB.org and the 12,000+ people who attended GHC. We made a lot of strong and valuable connections with amazing people in Houston, a rapidly growing metro area with tech jobs for women in a range of different industries. Logistically, the city has strong infrastructure in place to host a conference of this size and scale. We look forward to returning to Houston next year and growing our impact there.

Now don’t get me wrong: there are measures proposed by Texas state legislators and Houston city officials that I, personally, do not support. Still, I believe that you either lead change or it leads you.  And change comes from engagement, and the strength, skill and tolerance to be present and actively heard regardless of your environment. I believe that we have made some strong and valuable connections with amazing people in the state of Texas, and I look forward to growing our impact there.

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Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned. You Have Every Right to Be Upset. Here’s how to take action

We at AnitaB.org, are disheartened and dismayed by the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling that enabled the right of an abortion to people around the nation. AnitaB.org brings together allies and champions across every sector to advance intersectional gender equity in technology. The technologists we support are also people impacted by targeted oppressive and unjust laws including laws that restrict reproductive rights. Not only do we empower technologists through our year-long programming but, we also advocate for better systemic solutions for the workforce and for their humanity. 

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, we are joining to elevate the calls to action of our social justice colleagues and community partners. 

If you feel called to do something today or in the next coming days, here are some action steps:  

  • Support and donate to Repro Legal Defense Fund, which is a national organization that covers bail and funds strong defense for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for abortion. Because no one should be behind bars for ending their pregnancy or helping someone else do so.
  • Support and donate to Plan C, an educational resource for learning about how people in the US access abortion pills.
  • Support and donate to your local Planned Parenthood, independent abortion clinics, and abortion funds.
  • Go to the streets and join a protest near you. Most protests are happening today at 5 PM at the federal courthouses or state capitols.

AnitaB.org is also launching a political advocacy series, Power to the People, with our first event on July 20th. The first event of this series, Power to People: Abortion Rights and Digital Privacy, will elevate the voices of abortion advocates and the risks emerging with digital rights and privacy. This event will empower you to take additional action regarding abortion rights and data privacy. Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming event. 

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