When I tell someone about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, I start by explaining the dance parties. I tell them, “You wouldn’t think that an all-female dance would be fun… but you’d be wrong. There’s nothing like dancing with hundreds of technical women who let loose because there’s nobody around to feel stupid in front of.”
This conference has a lot of amazing speaker sessions. They are inspirational and informative. But these really don’t tell the whole story. I would suggest that fully half the value of Grace Hopper is the “everything else,” and I’m not just talking about the parties.
Ever since undergrad I’ve been told how important networking is. Now I’m seeing the proof. At Grace Hopper, so many of the leading technical women are present that it’s easy to be in the right place at the right time. For example, I happened to be the Hopper (a volunteer that works 8 hours in exchange for free registration) for the conference advisory board meeting Wednesday night and made some important connections there. From research to promoting women in technology, I’m certain that many great things start at Grace Hopper.
There are many other ways to get involved with the conference as well. Ever since I attended my first Grace Hopper I was a community volunteer. Last year I became the Lead Blogger and this year I’m on the Communities Committee. It’s not as though I’m any different from other attendees – if you step up and offer to help, you will get some amazing opportunities, whether you are a seasoned professional or a beginning student. It feels good to give back and be part of the unique experience that is Grace Hopper.
I write all this in the hope that I will inspire some of you to consider attending the conference if you haven't yet, and finding new ways to get involved to make the event even better for you.