Commentary & Perspectives

#GHC19 Daily Download: Friday, October 4

What a fantastic Celebration this has been! We’ve met so many amazing people over the past few days and attended a ton of inspiring sessions. Thank you all for making GHC 19 a success.   Enjoy today’s highlights and don’t forget to share your favorite moments with us! Tweet us at @AnitaB_org or use the hashtag #GHC19.

We Will. I Will.

We cannot thank you enough for sharing your We Will/I Will statements. We’ve loved hearing all of your affirmations! Check out some great examples below, and download and fill out your own statement. Be sure to share it with us on social media using #WeWill or #IWill, along with the hashtags #AnitaB and #GHC19.

  • #WeWill create more pathways for women leaders in technology — Sheila Isbell, Chief of the Software Engineering and Analytics Division at Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • #IWill be a careful moral thinker. — Christina Barta
  • #WeWill work hard to give back to the AnitaB.org Community. — Ritika Gupta

Using Tech to Protect Others

Jen Easterly“We sometimes dismiss those with wild imaginations as people who waste our time, but those dreamers have given us our best inventions,” said Jen Easterly at her Featured Session, “The Imagination Coefficient: Leadership in Counterterrorism & Cyber from West Point to Wall Street.” “Imagination brings innovation,” she said. “It makes us better problem solvers. It makes us better leaders. It makes us better technologists.”

Jen used her own creative skills while at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She helped create technology and systems to illuminate terrorists’ networks, thereby saving the lives of many U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2017, Morgan Stanley asked Jen to help them find new ways of combating cyber threats. She now serves as the Global Head of the company’s Cyber Security Center. Jen is also dedicated to finding innovative ways to increase diversity and inclusion in tech.

“It’s not just enough for me to recruit amazing talent,” Jen said. “I have to build an environment to retain that talent, which includes a culture of psychological safety and high emotional intelligence where people can bring bold and imaginative ideas to the table.”

Unhappy woman at her deskSecure Your Data!

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace.  Companies are doing their best to keep up and efficiently utilize technology to protect their customers’ data. “Every company is now forced to become a technology company and operate like a bank,” explained Rachael Sherman, Global Business Manager at Microsoft, during the session “CYA (Cover Your A$$ets): Protecting Your Hard-Earned Money in the Cloud.” “What technology represents is a different currency: it’s your data, texts, and messages. We have an enormous responsibility to protect our customers’ privacy around the world.”

“There’s a great opportunity to innovate but also incredible pressure to innovate to stay competitive,” said Brooke Noelke, Senior Manager of Cloud Architecture McAfee. Who knows — maybe some of our very own GHC 19 attendees will go on to create new technology to keep our information secure!

The Path Less Traveled By

“I actually started my job in technical writing from attending Grace Hopper Celebration,” revealed Sam O’Dell during the session, “The Non-Traditional Techie: Writing Your Way Into Tech.” Sam and fellow speaker Caitlin Cronkhite covered what technical writing is, what types of careers writers can get into, and resources available for students and midcareer women. If you are passionate about writing and are thinking about entering the tech world… what are you waiting for?!

Holly LiuBuild the Future

Interested in joining or founding your own business? During the panel, “5 Reasons to Work at a Startup,” moderator Holly Liu, Co-founder of Kabam and winner of the 2018 Technology Entrepreneurship Abie Award, spoke with four other startup founders about the challenges and rewards of doing just that. The panelists encouraged the audience to find something they’re passionate about and put in the effort to solve the problems around it.

“There’s no way we can predict the future unless we build it,” said Holly.

Overcoming Challenges

“What brought you to the session?” That was the question the “Embedding Social Responsibility and Ethics into the Engineering Lifecycle” panel asked the room as the session started. Women in the room immediately gave passionate statements about responsibility and ethics such as, “I’m here because I’m angry. I think that as engineers we have a lot of capital and power. We should have a better handle on social responsibility.” The panelists then discussed how people improve social responsibility and channel anger into action on a global level. This included understanding the product concept, data and model specifications, and the UX/UI design for each project strategy and implementation. Let’s go reduce bias and discrimination in tech!

The Key to Success and Happiness

Dr. Thamar Solorio has many impressive achievements under her belt. After receiving her post-doctoral degree, she was awarded an NSF grant, published several papers on natural language processing, received the NSF CAREER Award, and won the 2014 Emerging Leader Abie Award. She now serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Houston and hopes to be promoted to full professor soon. But, as she mentioned in her session, “Journey of an Outsider – From Newly-Minted Ph.D. to Associate Professor,” her success did not come easily. She openly shared her struggles with finding employment, negotiating her salary, and achieving happiness through work/life balance.

“Never forget the struggles and challenges we’ve faced,” Thamar advised. “Remembering them will help us support other women. #WeWill show advisees, mentees, and groups that it’s okay to have a life outside work. Empower them to have a balanced life.”

Systers Supporting Systers

It was great seeing so many come together during the Luncheon Celebrating Systers Community today. Systers is a private, safe online forum for women involved in technical aspects of computing, founded by Anita Borg herself. “It’s a great resource for women at any stage,” Zaza Soriano, the new Systers Keeper said of the Systers community. Zaza is taking over from Rose Robinson, who was honored onstage by our President and CEO, Brenda Darden Wilkerson. Thank you, Rose, for everything!

Closing Keynote

Keynotes

Dr. Vivienne MingYears ago, Ericsson told Dr. Vivienne Ming that they were working with the U.N. to help reunite refugee children with their extended families. Vivienne built an AI system that recognized faces to help this cause. But when she faced problems such as lack of funding, she became worried and pulled out of the project. She told the audience that this was her biggest regret and that she wished she had been more courageous. A few months later, Vivienne put her fears aside and returned to finish the project, thereby helping thousands of children. “I learned that courage isn’t something that you are,” she said. “Courage is something that you practice. It’s something that you share.”

Nonny de la Peña spoke about her work in virtual reality and immersive journalism. Nonny has made many impactful immersive films, allowing audiences to see through the eyes of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, witnesses to domestic violence, citizens caught in the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and much more. She also spoke about her newest breakthrough: Emblematic’s WebVR platform REACH, which creates scalable distribution in the medium, democratizes content authorship, and empowers new voices to share their stories.

Abie Award Winners

Yamilée Toussaint Beach holds an Abie Award journal with her photo on one of the pagesWomen’s health remains a taboo subject for many, and the female body is still often “tinged with shame and stigma,” Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam, winner of the 2019 Social Impact Abie Award, said. Rather than be content with the status quo of health care for women, Nimmi asked herself the question, “Why not design technologies that empower them?” and went on to create the Pocket Colposcope to enhance the effectiveness and scalability of the screening process for cervical cancer. She now directs the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies at Duke University.

Yamilée Toussaint Beach, winner of the 2019 Educational Innovation Abie Award in Honor of A. Richard Newton, also asked herself an important question after wondering whether to pursue a career in dance or STEM: “What if I don’t have to choose between dance and engineering?” The result was STEM From Dance, which uses the power of dance to inspire and support young women of color from low-income backgrounds to develop the confidence, skills, and awareness necessary to obtain STEM degrees. “Where do your passions intersect?” she asked the audience, encouraging them to find ways to integrate other subjects.

Poster Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the ACM Student Research Competition (ACM SRC)! This competition offers a unique forum for undergraduate and graduate students to present their original research before a panel of judges. The undergraduate and graduate winners will move on to the Grand Finals.

Undergraduate Winners

  • First Place — Ana Luisa Solórzano, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria
  • Second Place — Aishwarya Mandyam, University of Washington, Seattle – Computer Science and Engineering
  • Third Place — Jhillika Kumar, Georgia Institute of Technology

Graduate Winners

  • First Place — Paria Esmatloo, University of Texas at Austin
  • Second Place — Maryam Karimi, University of Pittsburgh
  • Third Place — Nwamaka Okafor, University College Dublin and Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Nigeria

PitcHER and Arlan Hamilton

Women receive 2.2% of all venture funding, and it’s time for us all to change this statistic. Arlan Hamilton shared her story about how she struggled to get funding for her own business, Backstage Capital, which she built from the ground up while homeless. She then interviewed the winners of the 2019 AnitaB.org PitcHER™ competition, who talked about their own impressive startups.

Our CEO and President, Brenda Darden Wilkerson, also took the stage to give a special announcement. She stated that we will also be providing each of the other PitcHER finalists with $5,000 to support their startups as well. Congratulations to all the finalists! We can’t wait to see how your startups will impact the world.

Supporting All Women

The audience at the Closing Keynote were treated to two fantastic performances. Anne Harris performed “Make Some Noise,” a musical-based spoken word piece, while Brianna Abregano and the Eklectica Choir sang a rousing rendition of “Fire Under My Feet.” Both performances were very inspiring and energizing!

Brenda returned to the stage to wish everyone farewell and thank them for making GHC 19 a success. “When it comes to supporting all women, you’re showing the way,” she said. “#overrepresent and make ALL women #unErasable,” she said.

She also encouraged everyone to join AnitaB.org in fighting for 50/50 intersectional tech equity by 2025, whether it be through volunteering with us, attending our events such as our upcoming Hopperx1 New York City, or donating to help us fund our many programs. “We can’t do this without you,” Brenda said.

Tweets of the Day

 

Thank you for everyone for joining us for the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration! Let’s go change the world together!