Commentary & Perspectives

#GHC18 Daily Download: Friday, September 28

All good things must come to an end, and sadly, that’s the case for the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration. It’s been a blast meeting all of you, and we hope you had as much fun as we did. Although the Celebration may be over, you can keep the spirit of GHC alive all year round by preregistering for our new AnitaB.org Membership program, and by connecting with other women in tech through the AnitaB.org Community.

As we say goodbye, let’s take a look at our favorite moments from the day. Remember to share your favorite moments as well. Tweet us at @AnitaB_org, or use the hashtag #GHC18.

Help Create Herstory

Prof. Anita Hill speaks on stage during on featured session at GHC 18

Make Your Voice Heard

The #MeToo movement has been instrumental in bringing stories of sexual harassment to light, as well as in helping others feel less isolated. Many women, however, still feel discouraged over the slow rate of progress. This discouragement was only further fueled today as senators voiced their support for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who stands accused of sexual assault. “You may not have a choice about what they do,” said Prof. Anita Hill during her featured session. “But you do have a choice about what you do.” She encouraged everyone to make their voices heard by voting, working with allies, and telling their stories — and by finding places like GHC where their voices are valued.

Anita acknowledged that creating change may be challenging, but gave this advice: “Whenever it gets hard, take a pause — just a pause — but always check back in. Because we need you. Your colleagues need you. And the women out there need you.”

Emily Chang (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Breaking Up the Boys’ Club

Emily Chang‘s book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley is full examples of sexism and harassment that women have faced, and continue to face, in the tech field. “Sometimes women have to face this choice: Do I take a check from this guy who’s trying to kiss me?” she said during her session. “We can’t be too optimistic, especially on a day like today. But I have seen more progress on this issue this year than in the last 30 years.”

“Find your allies,” she concluded. “Find your team. Find your people. And let’s do this together. We cannot give up.”

Unlocking Our Potential

Shattering the Glass Ceiling

Getting to the top is a difficult task, but even more so for underrepresented minorities. As discussed in the session “Climbing the Professional Ladder: A Diverse Perspective,” women from underrepresented minority (URM) groups often feel isolated, and sometimes struggle to find mentors who truly understand the challenges they face. It is not enough for companies to hire more URM women — leaders must also make their companies more inclusive of these women; ensure URM women feel safe and supported; and help URM women advance and thrive in their careers. Learn how AnitaB.org and Turner are working together to support women of color in tech.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

Despite her many achievements, Dena Haritos Tsamitis admits she still sometimes doubts herself. In fact, up to 70% of accomplished people have experienced imposter syndrome, or the belief that they are frauds who do not deserve their success. At her session “Fraud Alert: Shatter Impostor Syndrome,” Dena shared ways she overcomes lack of confidence, including reaching out for support, practicing power poses, and writing down her accomplishments and strengths. She also treated the audience by singing along to these inspiring lyrics: “I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.”

Kathryn Finney

Potential + Vision = Success

“I wanted to make sure more women who look like me had more opportunities to start businesses,” said Kathryn Finney, our 2016 Social Impact Abie Award winner. Hoping to support Black women and Latina entrepreneurs, Kathryn founded digitalundivided, which provides training and fosters economic growth in communities. “We have a mentorship program for talented Black and Latinx founders,” she said. “We don’t care where you went to school or if you have an engineering degree. We care if you have potential, if you have a vision. Those are the vital factors.”

We Are…

Thank you to our community for sharing these fun and inspiration “We Are” statements. Don’t forget to share your own on social media using the hashtag #WeAreHere.

  • “We are persistent.” — Elana Stroud, Seesaw Education
  • “We are the foundation.” — Dana Witherspoon, Bank of America
  • “We are it!” — Anita Asuquo, HP

Closing Keynote

AI: Good or Evil?

Plenty of people fear artificial intelligence will one day take over the world. Luckily, AI experts like Prof. Justine Cassell are working towards making a much more positive future. Justine and her research group at Carnegie Mellon University created SARA, the Socially Aware Robot Assistant. SARA interacts and collaborates with users, detecting various social cues to figure out how best to help them. It looks like the future of AI isn’t so bleak after all.

Megan Smith and Brenda Darden Wilkerson highfive on stage as they announce the launch of Time's Up Tech at the GHC 18 Closing Keynote

Join the Movement!

It’s always a pleasure to hear from Former CTO of the United States Megan Smith! Today, she and our President and CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson announced the launch of a new branch of the Time’s Up movement: Time’s Up Tech. This spinoff will unite women from the tech industry who want to work on safety, equity, and dignity within the tech world. We hope you’ll join this impactful movement!

And the Winners Are…

The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Joining us on the main stage were the winners of our inaugural AnitaB.org PitcHER™ competition: Shakeia KeglerHannah MeyerCharu Sharma, and Samantha J. Letscher. These women spoke about what inspired them to found their startups, and why it’s so important for more women to start their own businesses. “I am here today because so many mentors have opened the doors for me,” said 3rd Place Winner Charu Sharma, who created the NextPlay.ai mentorship app. Learn more about our 10 PitcHER finalists.

Top of Their Class

Congratulations to our ACM Student Research Competition winners! The 1st Place Undergraduate and Graduate Winners will move on to the Grand Finals. We wish them the best of luck!

Undergraduate Graduate
1st Place: Valerie Chan, Yale University 1st Place: Niveditha Kalavakonda, University of Washington, Seattle
2nd Place: Tram Nguyen, Stetson University 2nd Place: Zahra Shamsi, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
3rd Place: Tammy Lee, University of West Georgia 3rd Place: Negin Forouzesh, Virginia Tech

Abie Award Winners

Holly Liu, winner of the Technology Entrepreneurship Abie Award, was furious when she found out a less experienced male coworker was making $20,000 more than she was for doing less work. Tired of waiting for her work to be fairly recognized, she left her job to co-found the mobile gaming company Kabam. The company found success with it’s award-winning “Kingdoms of Camelot” franchise, which grossed over $250 million in less than four years. “Don’t wait,” she urged the audience. “When you’re on the outside looking in, build your own house.”

Debbie G. SeneskyDr. Debbie G. Senesky, winner of the Emerging Leader Abie Award in Honor of Denice Denton, loves the work and research she is doing. But it wasn’t luck that lead her to her dream job — it was perseverance, hard work, and confidence. She revealed that the lack of confidence often holds people back from pursuing their passion, and asked everyone to gather up their courage and take that first step towards their goals. “Why not shine?” she asked. “After all, we are the stars.”

Tweet of the Day

 

Thank you for joining us for another incredible GHC. As you return home, remember all the new knowledge you gained, all the new connections you made, and all the inspiring moments you witnessed. But most importantly, remember that you have the power to change the world, and that #WeAreHere to support you on your journey.

So long until next year!