GHC 2015 with Kathleen Mullins: Spreading the GHC Love

Between the workshops, networking, and swag-finding, there was a thread that connected every moment at the Grace Hopper Celebration—the idea that diversity is vital to the field of Computer Science, and yet it is often overlooked. Coming home from the conference, I know I felt a sense of empowerment and a call to action, especially after speeches from the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube. Still, I left asking myself: how can we translate these hopeful feelings into concrete actions to change the culture and share what we love about computers with future generations who can really change the climate of the field? In order to make it easier for myself and others, I’ve collected some things we can do now, in our Northeastern and Boston community, to continue the spirit of Grace Hopper.

First, we can share our direct experiences with the people around us, both those who share our perspective and those who don’t. To share with other women, there are Lean In Circles, an idea brought to us by the Sheryl Sandberg. By bringing together a small group of women who will support each other, you can empower each other to do better, and more importantly to follow your goals. For everyone else in the community, I would highly suggest the documentary “Debugging the Gender Gap: CODE,” which was screened at the conference, and can be screened for the college, or even the university as a whole. It is important to demonstrate to everyone the severity of the gender gap in the tech industry. It is real, and it can be reversed, but it will take a lot of work, from everyone in the tech community and beyond. Showing this film will hopefully open people’s eyes to the issue at hand.

It is also important to share the opportunities we have as CS students with people who don’t have access or support to learn programming. There were so many organizations present at the Conference dedicated to teaching young students coding, but I will focus on two. One such organization is Hour of Code, founded by Hadi Partovi, one of the keynote speakers. He founded the organization to teach people of all ages how to code—without the intimidation that often comes along with it. The week of December 7-13, schools around the nation will be participating in the program, and there are opportunities to volunteer at local schools. This is such a simple and fulfilling way to share what you love about computer science and programming with kids who might be inspired to pursue a career in the field. Specifically for young girls, there was a program called Girls Who Code, which run classes and camps to teach programming to girls. It is especially important to start girls in computer science as early as possible, before the anti-STEM stigma can get to them. By volunteering with this organization, you

Grace Hopper was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has thought about it, but even more I would recommend that women in technology share their experiences with the community in any way possible. I’ve just given some ways to spread the women in tech love, but there are so many ways we can share our experiences as women in tech with our community.