Computing Profession

Grace Hopper Conference 2010

Valerie Barr
Valerie Barr, Professor of Computer Science, Union College

The 2010 Grace Hopper conference does not officially open until Thursday, Sept. 30, but Wednesday is a busy day nonetheless.  The PhD Forum and New Investigator programs run all morning, and CRA-W Career Mentoring Workshops take place in the afternoon.  There are three different workshop tracks for undergraduates, graduate students, and early career researchers.

I officially began my conference activities with a gathering of people who run, or are planning, or are gearing up to plan a regional celebration of women in computing.  The regional celebrations, a project of ACM-W, are like mini Hopper conferences.  They typically run from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon and bring together 100-150 area students, along with faculty and some industry representatives.  The goal is to have enough regional celebrations that there is one nearby for every woman student in the country. 

If Wednesday’s meeting was any indication, we are well on our way to achieving that goal.  The meeting included representatives from the D.C. area, Chicago, Indiana (home of the first regional, and Gloria Childress Townsend (who began and coordinates the regional celebrations), Kentucky, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, and the four-state group of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.  

There is tremendous support for new regional celebrations right now, thanks to a partnership between ACM-W, the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and funding from the National Science Foundation.  Each new regional celebration receives startup funds, which is a huge benefit.  Speaking on behalf of my fellow organizers for the NY celebration, we greatly appreciate not having to a lot of fundraising while we are also figuring out all the mechanics of pulling together a conference.  Each regional can also request speakers from the CRA-W Distinguished Lecturer Series, allowing us to get wonderful speakers without charge.  The Anita Borg Institute will send a representative to each conference, again at no expense to the conference organizers.  And, finally, Joanne Cohoon, through NCWIT’s support, will attend each first-time regional and run a workshop for the faculty attendees, focusing on the recruitment and retention of women CS students.

There are many upcoming regional celebrations during the 2010-2011 academic year, kicking off with the New Mexico celebration in October.  I am certain that the various regional coordinators would love a helping hand.  If you are located near an upcoming celebration, feel free to contact the coordinators and offer to help.  I can guarantee you will be inspired by spending a day with 100 students who love computer science!

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