Computing Profession

Opening Day of Grace Hopper Conference

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

Wednesday saw the opening of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.  It has been 15 years since Anita Borg and Telle Whitney launched the Hopper Conferences with a gathering of about 400 women computer scientists in Washington, DC.  There are over 1600 attendees expected for this year’s conference, showing, perhaps, both the increasing role of women in CS as well as the continuing need for a gathering of this kind.

There were a number of "pre-conference" sessions throughout the day.  These included the PhD Forum, New Investigator presentations, and CRA-W mentoring sessions on work/life balance, networking and professional development, and the road to graduate school.  The late afternoon saw many women gathered in informal groupings around the hotel, friends who have not seen each other since the last Hopper catching up, and people rediscovering graduate school buddies after several decades. 

The evening reception included a poster session, which included some that were submitted under the ACM Student Research Competition.  Among some of the interesting posters I saw (I certainly could not see all of them!) were these:

  • Designing for the 100+ year archive – Cathleen Wharton,  Sun Microsystems
  • Managing and Querying Unstructured Data in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Domain Using an Ontology – Jamila Salari, UBC
  • "I’m willing to bet my soul on this website" Trust in Online Information Repositories – Laurian Vega, Yeong Toy Sun, Scott McCrickard, Steve Harrison, all of Virgina Tech.  This is an study of users’ evaluation and construction of trust when using websites.
  • The Poetry and Prose Performances Project: Bringing Great Literature to YouTube – Jessica Dickinson Goodman, CMU.  Jessica is a humanities major, combining ethics, history, and public policy.  Her goal in this project is to make video accessible to all audiences, motivated by a desire to give students with disabilities access to great literature through video.  She involved students from drama, other humanities disciplines, and CS.  They recorded literature and put in on YouTube, along the way building tutorials and tools that would make it possible for people with limited technology skills to do the same things.  Jessica has found that people are accessing the site from around the world, and she often gets email from people thanking her, or asking her when additional works will be up on the site.  You can check it out at

On Thursday the conference really gets underway with a keynote by Megan Smith, Vice President, New Business Development & General Manager,

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