Some comments about the official opening of the Grace Hopper conference, including the new TechWomen Initiative and CS Ed Week.
The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing opened officially on Thursday morning. Conference organizers expected more than 1,800 people to register, and ended up with more than 2,100, including 964 students from around the world and 100 K-12 computer science teachers. That made for quite an energetic crowd at the opening session.
In addition to the usual welcoming remarks by Tracy Camp (Colorado School of Mines, General Chair of the conference) and Telle Whitney (President, Anita Borg Institute), there were supposed to be remarks by Alain Chesnais, ACM President. In Alain's place, John White gave words of welcome, including a very exciting announcement. John made the first public announcement of the TechWomen initiative which will bring women in the field of technology from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to the U.S. This will involve the combined efforts of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, the Institute of International Education, and the Anita Borg Institute. The 38 women chosen will come from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank and Gaza, and participate in a five-week, project-based mentoring program at leading technology companies in Silicon Valley. There are numerous companies involved, and the women will also all attend Grace Hopper 2011.
John also mentioned a few other key ACM activities. This year CS Ed Week will be more expansive than last year, with nine partners involved. The goal is to make the week really influential so that it becomes a national permanent platform to expose children to computing and its importance. In addition, with CSTA, ACM is looking intently at the state by state and national policy frameworks that underpin CS education. John discussed a new coalition for K-12 CS education that includes ACM, CSTA, Microsoft, Google, NCWIT, CRA, SAS, and ABI. The coalition will make a case for CS education and elevate it within discussions about education that are currently happening in the U.S. The intent is to build awareness and help bring about change in what John called "interesting and challenging times for CS and CS education."
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