On October 4-6 twenty-six women undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Chicago will attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) .
GHC is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists: this year 18,000+ will convene in Orlando. The transition from gender-parity K-12 experiences to male-dominated computer science programs (with only about 18% of CS BS recipients being female) can be hard for females. GHC provides the opportunity for women, who are used to being a small minority in classes and facing many other hurdles (see for example, this article), to experience being the overwhelming majority in a technical setting. Schools sending their students to GHC have seen higher retention rates as a result (Alvarado, Judson, 2014).
GHC is structured to enable women to gain valuable technical knowledge and career guidance, to showcase role models, and to foster valuable professional networks and community. Events include an immense career fair with most major tech companies, workshops presented by impressive women in emerging technology fields, and opportunities to network. Past UChicago attendees have found amazing jobs at GHC beyond Chicago/UChicago opportunities. 4th year Sydney Ko was able to secure her dream internship at Adobe in Seattle through networking at GHC 2016.
4th year Emilia Russo says that attending GHC 2016 inspired her to continue computer science. She says, “When I attended [GHC 2016] I learned about all the different opportunities that are emerging and about women who embody the skills that I want to learn. Those experiences as well as my internship experience this summer (which I got through the GHC 2016 career fair) have given me the confidence and excitement for completing the computer science program at UChicago and pursuing a full-time job in software development. I know that I can be successful in tech because I have gained so many valuable role models from my experiences at Grace Hopper.”
This opportunity to send twenty-six UChicago women to GHC came from two funding sources. Twenty women were funded by a grant awarded by the Women’s Board of UChicago. The grant was proposed by two leaders of ACM-W, UChicago’s women in computer science club, Isha Mehrotra and Juliette Hainline. Six women were funded by a grant awarded by the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division. The grant was proposed by Prof. Diana Franklin, Research Associate Professor and Director of Computer Science Education at UChicago STEM Education. Attendees were selected by faculty of the Department of Computer Science through an application process.
The tangible skills and insights that the students will obtain at GHC can positively impact the campus community through the shared experiences of attendees, helping to narrow the gender gap and increasing the influence of UChicago women in technology fields.