The 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), “the world’s largest gathering of women technologists”, hosted by AnitaB.org, was held October 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. Over 50 UNC CS women attended the conference, including 40 who received scholarships from the department to attend. The group was also joined by UNC CS alumni who attended and even presented workshops at the event.
The Grace Hopper Celebration offers students the opportunity to engage with potential employers, interview for internships and full-time positions, attend workshops and other sessions from key industry experts, and network with fellow women in tech.
Shannon Goad, an attendee and senior majoring in computer science and mathematics, shared, “The most impactful part of Grace Hopper Celebration for me was seeing all of the attendees uplift each other during the intense networking and interviewing. There was a spirit of mutual support instead of competition, and everyone was truly celebrating each other’s successes. It was great to feel so welcomed by a community in tech, and know that everyone was genuinely cheering each other on.”
Conference attendees gained important resources to find success and further a career in tech. More than 80 percent of attendees are offered a full-time job or a first or second internship as a result of attending the conference.
Those in attendance also have the opportunity to attend workshops and lectures from some of the women leaders in tech. GHC 2019 attendee and junior computer science major Sarah Bost, was excited and inspired by attending a fireside chat with AnitaB.org CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson and COO Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland.
“These women have dedicated their careers to promoting diversity in technology, and it was so inspiring to hear about their experiences and their vision for the future,” Bost said. “As a young woman starting my career, the future of technology is really important to me. Being at a conference where all of the top tech companies and students were passionate about AnitaB.org’s commitment to achieving a workplace that is 50/50 by 2025 allowed me to feel excited about my future career in a more gender-neutral workplace.”
Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration can be quite costly and out-of-reach for many college-aged students. In 2016, the Department of Computer Science, with support from corporate partners, began offering scholarships for students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration. Recognizing the importance of providing future leaders and women in tech with the opportunity to connect with industry representatives that are supportive of a more open and accepting tech community, there was a commitment to ensure UNC CS was represented as a leader committed to the development of women in tech. Opportunities such as these can truly be life changing for students. With the help of partners and donors, the department has sent more than 160 women to four Grace Hopper Celebrations.
Thanks to CapTech and CoStar Group for supporting UNC CS at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration!