By Amy Pollard (GRS, ’19)
Together, the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and Department of Computer Science (CS) were co-gold sponsors of the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC). A gold sponsorship allowed 5 students, 3 faculty members and a staff member to attend the 3-day event which took place October 19 – 21, 2016.
ECE additionally sponsored the attendance of another six students: Parisa Babaheidarian, Theodora Brisimi, Alexandra Miller Browne, Allison Durkan, Urvashi Mohnani and Alexandra Nero. The department’s backing is part of an ongoing mission to empower women in STEM academic programs and careers. An increasing number of women have entered STEM careers in recent years. From 2007 to 2014, the number of women in core tech jobs expanded by 12 percent, according to a study conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute. Predictions for the future remain bright, with Forbes contributor Leo King predicting “a huge revolution” in the technology industry as women not only join the tech workforce but take on leadership roles.
GHC was established more than twenty years ago, and has grown to be the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. In the last two years, attendance has grown by more than 50%.
More than 15,000 individuals attended the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston, Texas. Proceedings included keynote presentations, professional development activities, workshops, a poster session, awards, vendor expos, networking sessions and a career fair.
“I had a great time at Grace Hopper,” says Parisa Babaheidarian. “It was amazing to see so many talented women in similar fields, who are already highly successful in their careers.”
Theodora Brisimi adds, “I had the unique opportunity to talk to a number of companies, including some of the biggest companies in my field of interest, and to expand my professional network by meeting interesting people, faculty members and research students as well as professionals from the industry.”
“It is a great opportunity to network with women from all over the world and learn about the latest trends in tech,” recounts Alexandra Miller-Browne. “The keynotes were amazing and inspiring, there were demos of tech like the HoloLens that I got to try out. It also has a great career fair with several companies that interview on site for internships and full time positions. I am so thankful to the ECE department for giving us this opportunity to attend this conference.”
ECE PhD student Fulya Kaplan attended the event with a GHC Scholarship from Anita Borg Institute. When asked about her experience Kaplan explained “it was a great opportunity for networking with experienced woman in the field.”
ECE and CS plan to continue working together to send another group of students to GHC 2017. An announcement with important dates and application requirements will be disseminated late Spring/early Summer. Please email ECE Marketing and Communications Administrator Gabriella McNevin with questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Grace Hopper Celebration is produced by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Anita Borg and Telle Whitney founded the conference in 1994. The event was held in Washington, D.C. and was attended by 500 people.
 Woodward, Curt and Janelle Nanos. “Few women are benefiting from surge in tech jobs.” The Boston Globe. 17 May 2016
 King, Leo. “Women in Tech predict major change in 2016.” Forbes Magazine. 18 Dec. 2015.