Written by Ava Galyean
The annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of women in computing, was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 26-28. The conference included lectures from women regarding technical skills in the industry and how to be a female in a male-driven industry. The event also included a job fair with approximately 400 companies from throughout the U.S.
Senior Hailey Fields said she found the panels and discussions on being successful on the education side of the science field to be very interesting since she is considering being a teacher. Finding people interested in education in her industry is unusual, according to Fields, since most will choose a technical job with high earnings.
“It was really nice to be able to see that side of things and talk to people who are passionate about educating in the field of computer science,” Fields said.
The students were able to attend the conference because of a 2008 alumna who, after going to the convention herself, felt it was very important for other women to experience.
Tim Baird, professor of the computer science department, received the donation and helped work out the details. Baird said it all started in 2015 when an alumna called him saying she had just been to the conference and wanted to donate to help two women the following year. She donated, and the department matched the donation so that, instead of sending two women, they were able to send four. Since then, it has been a chain reaction of donations from women who have been able to experience the conference and hope to pay it forward.
According to www.computerscience.org, as of 2010-2011, only 17.6 percent of computer science students are women, which is why it is important for female students to get this empowerment and exposure of other women in their field.
“I think the reason it’s important is because [women are] the minority,” Baird said. “Generally, we [have] about 15 percent female students in our classes in our major.”
He said the student attendees said once you get used to being just one out of one or two female students in a classroom full of men, walking into that convention was extremely empowering and impactful.