Grace Hopper is unlike any conference I have ever attended. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (often simply called Grace Hopper or GHC) is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Named after the pioneering Navy Admiral and computer scientist Grace Hopper, these three jam-packed days of information sessions and a giant company expo/recruiting fair were an inspiring experience. We could say quite a lot about the our first time attending, but we boiled it down to five main learnings.
1. The future of women in tech is strong! Grace Hopper is an amazing one-stop-shop for talented computer science and engineering interns. The level of engagement, the in-depth questions asked, and breadth of attendees’ interests was exceptional and signals a promising future for women and employers in computing fields.
2. Two words: ‘Machine Learning’ By far the most buzzed about topic at the Quantcast booth was Machine Learning. At least half of the attendees who approached the booth wanted to know more. At Quantcast we apply the power of big data to advertising. We process enormous amounts of data using machine learning to understand the underlying patterns of consumer behaviors across digital media and organize it in a way that’s useful for publishers and advertisers. During GHC we loved sharing insight into the interesting problems our technologists are working to solve every day with the help of machine learning.
3. Can we talk about Kathryn Finney? Quantcast is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse company and that’s why Kathryn Finney quickly caught our attention. Winner of the Social Impact ABIE Award, this woman is amazing. She is the Managing Director of digitalundivided (DID), an organization which fosters economic growth through the empowerment of women of color entrepreneurs. DID’s work includes #ProjectDiane, a crucial report quantifying the state of Black women in tech entrepreneurship, and the BIG accelerator in Atlanta. Read about her here. You won’t regret it.
4. 15,000 attendees are a LOT of attendees. We were proud to send eight engineers and a product manager to attend the Grace Hopper Conference. Reviews of the opening and closing key note sessions were very high (you can view them online now!). But we’re sad to say we didn’t get to attend all of the sessions we would have liked due to the crowds. With lines well down the hall and people waiting hours before a session began, it was clear that the Anita Borg Institute was rivaling Comic Con’s logistical obstacles. What remained impressive during these obstacles was the high service level of all the staff. The lesson learned: line up early!
5. It’s a small world. Even in a crowd of 15,000 many of us ran into people we knew. Whether from school, work, or previous conferences many people saw familiar faces during the week. And even if you didn’t, the feeling of camaraderie when meeting people was almost tangible. I expected to feel lost given the large crowd, but it was by far the most comfortable I have ever felt in a conference setting. This camaraderie is something truly unique about the Grace Hopper Conference.
We had a wonderful time and hope to see you all at Grace Hopper 2017!