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“Amazing” Grace

Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash
Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash

Your social media timelines may have been bombarded lately by the hashtag “GHC17”. This hash, used to tag all things associated with the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration. Organized by the nonprofit AnitaB.org and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), this conference is the largest gathering of women technologists in the world. This year, October 4th through October 6th, Orlando, Florida was teeming with over 18,000 women excited about learning, engaging and fellowshipping over the common bond of STEM and in the name of Grace Murray Hopper.

They call her “Amazing” Grace. She is no heartfelt Christian hymn, but before her death in 1992, Grace Murray Hopper was a charming, dedicated, female computer scientist, naval rear admiral, and inventor. Now gone, she is remembered by her work and lives on through the actions of others.

Grace Hopper started her career teaching math at Vassar College. During World War II, she joined the Navy at the not-so-youthful age of 37. There, she became a part of the Mark I and Mark II computer programming staffs. During which, she coined the term “debugging” the system. She created one of the first compilers to translate source code into computer language while working on the Univac I and helped develop the computer language, “COBOL”. Hopper is also known for her work with nano- and picoseconds.

After leaving the Navy once, being recalled for active duty, and then leaving for good in 1986, Hopper continued to educate others, travel, and receive well-deserved awards such as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and the IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award.

Hopper continues to be honored by having her name used for achievements and initiatives such as the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, the U.S.S. Hopper, and the annual Grace Hopper Celebration conference for women in computing.

Coming back strong with a new CEO, name, and colorful logo, this year’s conference reflected inclusiveness, diversity and transition. It encouraged women to define themselves for themselves and to be agents of change however they see fit through its “I AM” movement.

The conference focused on leading change in the technology industry, which included shouting out companies that have made great progress in making their work environments more diverse and inclusive. These top companies include GEICO, IBM, Accenture, and ThoughtWorks. It also focused on not just networking, but connecting with technical leaders and supporting one another through the Systers online community, a group Hopper would have been lucky to have access to.

Each day of the event hosted a career fair. Workshops and speakers at the event focused on discussing research and computing career interests for women at various stages in their career, from students to executives. They not only shared their struggles as being women and mothers in a male-dominated industry, but  touched on ways to combat inequality in the industry.

Too often, women’s intellectual contributions to our current way of life go unmentioned. By not mentioning them, women are robbed of due credit. And in some cases, credit is taken by someone else. This Grace Hopper Celebration is a way for one less woman to go unacknowledged and for thousands of women each year to know they are worth acknowledging.

What legacy will you leave behind? What contribution will you make to the industry you have found your place in? Who will you inspire to inspire others?

If you’re planning on going next year, definitely go ahead and start planning!  The 2018 conference will take place in Houston, Texas from September 26th to September 28th at the George R. Brown Convention Center.  To find out more information about next year’s event or to get a recap of this year’s celebration, visit ghc.anitab.org.


This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, Cynthia Sharpe. Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

Cynthia M. Sharpe, is a May 2015 graduate of NC State University. Cynthia graduated with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and currently aspires to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. “As I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Cynthia M. Sharpe, inspired by Marianne Williamson

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