GHC16 starts with a bang!

Ever seen almost 15000 women in a single place? You should have been at the Toyota Center this morning. The excitement was palpable in the huge auditorium while waiting for the opening keynote of the 16th annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) to begin. Popular music numbers by DJ Roonie DJ fed the frenzy in the audience.

The crowd at the keynote

Dr. Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg

Dr Telle Whitney

Institute (ABI) opened the session welcoming the attendees and talking about the progress this event has made since its inception in 1994. They had about 500 attendees then and today it has grown to over 15000 attendees from across 83 countries (also includes 1000 men attendees) and the keynotes are being live streamed as well. Women, it seems, are ready to drive change on a global scale.

Dr Latanya Sweeney, Professor at Harvard, is an impressive

Dr Latanya Sweeney

lady. She is the pioneer in Data Privacy as we know it. With some concrete data-driven examples, she made it clear that we as computer science engineers need to ‘algorithmically accountable’. We should not just be concerned with developing new technology and programs but also be mindful of the consequences of these technologies i.e. ethics/data privacy issues ideally in the design phase. She drove home the point that we shouldn’t just think about data in my application but what information this data along with all available public datasets together can provide. Her call to action is that we should train/help the policy regulators help formulate the data policies in a rapidly changing technocracy we are living in.

Dr Anna Patterson, this year’s technical leadership award winner

Dr Anna Patterson

and VP at Google, is the most humble person I’ve seen in a while. She isn’t afraid to say the hard things. Her leadership style is to be transparent and be over-trusting. It makes people go overboard to deliver their goals. She hoped that any struggles or difficulties women see at the 

Let your light shine

workplace will soon be as distant in memory as the fight for the right to vote. She was passionate about women exercising their hard-earned right to vote this election year. Thank you for reminding us of this responsibility to our nation.

The 2016 award for the Top Companies for women technologists 

Dr Rebecca Parsons

went to Thoughtworks. Their CTO, Dr Rebecca Parsons, said that technology is at the epicenter of social growth and there has never been a better time for women technologists with attitude, aptitude and integrity.

Ginni Rometty, CEO and President of IBM, spoke next. So

Gnni Rometty

down-to-earth! Loved her 3 mantras for success — never let someone else define who you are, growth and comfort never go together and work on something bigger than you are. She reminded us that ‘past is prologue’ and this is the cognitive era. She also had a mini-panel where she pulled in 3 of IBM’s best engineers and had them speak about their specialities — agile/user-centric design, Watson-based genomics and innovations.

The 2016 Student of Vision award winner this year is an

Alyssia Jovellanos (pic courtesy ABI)

inspiring and cool 19-year old Alyssia Jovellanos. She talked about how a chat with a single software engineer changed her course of study. She said that letting new people into your life, finding a mentor and being a mentor can expand the world beyond your imagination. Someone to look out for in the coming years.

The keynote was so inspiring — listening to women working at the cutting edge of technology and being in a room with so many women was strangely empowering. Definitely an experience of a lifetime.

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