Wow, is #GHC17 really over? These last three days flew by so quickly! We’ve had an incredible time attending sessions, learning new skills, and making new friends and connections. Catch up on today’s activities, and let us know your favorite parts of #GHC17. Tweet us at @anitab_org, or use the hashtag #GHC17.
We saw a bunch of wonderful “I AM” statements written by our community today. Here are some of our favorites:
- I AM breaking down walls. —Eden Petri
- I AM a pioneer and a change agent for Women in STEM. —Marice Uy
- I AM an artist and a software developer. —Vi Le
- I AM a problem solver who loves to teach. —Anita Cu
Changing the Culture
Never Be Afraid to Be Yourself
“As an African American woman, I felt I had to work twice as much to get the same recognition as others,” said Tarsha McCormick of ThoughtWorks during the “Bringing Yourself to the Workplace” panel. When her organization began in-depth conversations on underrepresented women in tech, Tarsha felt more comfortable opening up and being herself. “It was my opportunity to help educate, and help build some allies.”
For Pam Siebert of IBM, a deaf woman who struggled with shyness, some of her biggest supporters were her managers, who not only mentored her, but also instilled in her a sense of independence and confidence. Pam also sought outside support through Toastmasters to build her public speaking skills and feel more comfortable with an interpreter. “I’m getting recognition more and more now,” Pam said, urging other underrepresented women to find mentors and support groups.
Intersectionality: The Layers that Make Up Who We Are
Gender, race, age… there are so many factors that affect our experiences. But unfortunately, people tend to only focus on one facet at a time. “I can’t compartmentalize my [personal] identity. Why should I have to do that in the workplace?” said Tiffany Price at the “Moving Beyond Women in Technology: Intersectionality and Workplace D&I” session. The panel offered ideas for organizations that want to address intersectionality. Offer employer resource groups to promote diversity, and support underrepresented minorities so they feel safe in their work environment.
Perhaps panelist Ciara Trinidad summed it up best: “I’m going to be unapologetically myself.”
Do You Know Any “Hidden Figures”?
The world is filled with what eBay Executive Larry Colagiovanni calls “hidden figures”: people who are left out of decisions or not given credit for their work. At the “Highlight and Recognize Your Organizations ‘Hidden Figures'” session, Larry revealed he and his leadership team identify and look out for these people, in order to highlight them and give them the recognition they deserve. Tamara Nichols Helms of NetApp encouraged these “hidden figures” to step into the spotlights themselves. “If you’re always behind the scenes that’s where people expect you to stay,” she said. “You have to step out of your comfort zone. You have to take those risks to get that reward.”
Fighting Stereotypes about Mental Health
Many people live with some form of mental illness, including depression and anxiety. But discussing these problems can be challenging. “We need to normalize mental illness, break the stigma, and recognize that a lot of people struggle with this,” said Madalyn Parker at the “We’re All in This Together: Mental Health in Tech Communities” session. Luckily, there are resources to help: check out Prompt and OSMI, both of which provide a safe platform for discussing mental health and disrupting stereotypes.
Keep on Connecting!
Network with Your Neighbors
Being a superhero doesn’t mean facing all your challenges alone. Our session “Wonder Woman and the Amazonians” showed how you can join the AnitaB.org Community, our network of locally organized groups where you can connect with other women in tech, both online and in person. Join an existing local community group or build your own, and attend various workshops and events in your neighborhood. Remember—even Wonder Woman had support from her tribe!
Mobile App Winner
Congrats to Carrie Mah, who earned the most points in our GHC 17 Mobile App Game. Carrie did a great job connecting with our community by sharing photos, tweets, and much more during the entire celebration. We hope all of you continue to reach out to us — and one another — after GHC!
Building a Better Future
Keynotes: Our Future Together
What an incredible way to end #GHC17! Nora Denzel, who serves on AnitaB.org’s Board of Trustees , recapped her top moments from GHC, and encouraged everyone to attend our AnitaB.org Community Viewing Parties, and to join our local community groups and Systers. “You definitely don’t want to take this journey alone,” she said.
We also heard from our keynote speakers, including Dr. Ayanna Howard, who works with pediatric therapeutic robots that comfort, play, and even dance! She spoke about the need to remove bias when creating and programming robots so they can properly work with humans. “If my robots are supposed to work with the world, they are supposed to work with the entire world,” she stated.
Dr. Deborah Berebichez, our second keynote speaker, said how her inner voice told her to follow a career in physics, despite her own insecurity. She became the first Mexican woman to graduate with a physics Ph.D. from Stanford University; now she empowers young women to follow their paths to careers in STEM. “Think deeply, be bold, and help others,” she challenged the crowd.
Our final keynote speaker, Maureen Fan, talked about her impressive career in virtual reality and animation. How did she become such a success? She followed her passion, asked for what she wanted, and did not let others discourage her. “You don’t have to conform to what people want you to do, ” she said.
But perhaps the most touching moment of the closing session was the segment when Telle Whitney, our outgoing CEO and the co-founder of GHC, received her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. “Telle is important to so many of us and my community,” said Fran Berman, Chair of the AnitaB.org Board of Trustees, who presented the award. “I’m inspired by her courage, and I’m excited for her — and for all of us — as she explores her next era of contributions.”
“Each one of you has a dream, and AnitaB.org is there with you,” Telle said. “Technology remains at the heart of almost every change that affects our future, and we need you to create technology that will create change that is positive. Our future together has never been brighter.”
ABIE Winners: Giving Back to the Community
“Don’t put yourself in a box, and don’t assume that who you are now is who you’re going to be,” said Marie desJardins, winner of the A. Richard Newton ABIE Award, at our Friday ABIE panel. She appeared again the main stage — giving a shout out to her family, watching on the Livestream — to talk about her own struggles with insecurity. “If I gave in to any of those discouragements, I would not be here today,” she said. “Every failure has been a learning experience, and every set back has made me stronger.”
The Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award Winner Aysegul Gunduz — who also gave a shout out to her family in Istanbul — spoke about gender discrimination in tech, and her work towards promoting the success of female engineers and faculty. “Today we continue to fight for the same opportunities for tenure promotion and advancement to leadership roles for female faculty as well as staff,” she stated.
Tweet of the Day
Every year @ghc I remember the power of connecting with other #womenintech & being reminded of how common our experience is. #GHC17
— Denise McInerney (@denisemc06) October 5, 2017
We are so grateful to have spent the last three days with all of you. We look forward to seeing your future accomplishments and watching how you will make your mark on the world of technology. But for now… let’s all go to the Friday Night Celebration! See you on the dance floor!
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