Computing Profession

The Impact of the Grace Hopper Celebration

Gail Carmichael
Gail Carmichael, Ph.D. student, Carleton University

This year’s edition of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is officially underway, and you can almost taste the excitement. Last night I had the opportunity to speak with an external evaluator about my experiences with the conference in an effort to determine what kind of impact it really has. I quite enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my role this year and the previous two years I’ve attended.

One of the biggest tangible outcomes of participating has been the wild success of our Women in Science and Engineering group at Carleton University (CU-WISE). A little more than two years ago, we were rebuilding our group from scratch (it had existed but died down several years earlier). I heard about Grace Hopper and knew that we had to go. Not only did we learn how to ask for (and get!) funding, the Dean of Science at the time guided us in creating a strategic vision for CU-WISE. Attending the conference together was a team-building experience and provided us with more inspiration and ideas than we knew what to do with.

We also learned a few mantras that we have repeated many times since our first trip. For instance, "If you don’t hear the word ‘no’ enough, then you simply aren’t asking for enough." Since hearing that, I have been less afraid to think big and not worry about the worst possible outcome-–after all, hearing someone say "no" really isn’t so bad! Another often-repeated phrase was "You can have it all, just not at the same time." I sometimes have to remind myself that I don’t have to accomplish everything right away. There is plenty of time.

This year, the conference is a little different for me. No other CU-WISE executives are here this time, though I did travel with a few other Carleton students. I am excited to network with other researchers interested in the same areas as me (specifically augmented reality and educational games, but I’m also just getting into HCI). Also, I’m a member of the Communities Committee and am volunteering at the new Communities table as a Hopper.

I’m looking forward to my most busy and involved Grace Hopper yet, and will be sharing a few of my experiences here and through the official Grace Hopper Communities. I hope you’ll check these out and experience the conference from afar!

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