I Am a Technical Woman, 3rd Day at Hopper Conference (GHC09)

This is the third day of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC09), in Tucson, Arizona. I was on a second panel (“The Two Body Problem” about couples managing two technical careers*). My daughter Jessica gave a five minute “Ignite Talk” called “Playing with Alice After School” about using the Alice programming tool in a music teaching curriculum she developed for a group of middle-school Girl Scouts. This is Jessica’s third time presenting in the Hopper Conference (she started when she was a High School Senior); she is already planning what to submit for next year.

Jessica and Alice

Sun table

Katy, Evgenia, Amarda, Kristin


At last night’s award’s ceremony, Jerri Barrett, Marketing Vice President of the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), gave the first showing of the excellent new YouTube video called “I am a Technical Woman”. It is great fun to see the large number of Sun women included.

After the awards were given, about five hundred of us danced for hours. It started with Electric Slide dancing, then large circles were formed of women who worked together, then a bigger circle formed and pairs of women would go in to dance together before giving the space to another set, after that there were line dances, then back to circle dancing. Women wore sari, hijab head scarves, little black dresses, fitted suits, and jeans with tank tops. Everyone danced with and for everyone else. There were maybe a dozen men in the group. Chief Technologists danced with junior engineers and Presidents of technical colleges danced with students. It was delightful.

Today began for me with the first joint breakfast between the ABI Board of Trustees and the ABI Advisory Board, of which I am honored to be a member. Breakfast was followed by the superb keynote presentation by Fran Berman, Vice President for Research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, called “Creating Technology for Social Good, A Prologue”.

Anita Borg Institute

Dancing at Hopper

Enjoying the dance


Two highlights of today’s conference offerings were a fun mentoring skit and commentary session called “Mentoring: Difficult and Sensitive Issues”, and Bernardine Dias’ report about TechBridgeWorld and Computing Technology for Developing Communities. I last saw her speak at an NCWIT event in May 2009 and she was every bit as impressive this time.

This evening was the big Sponsors’ Night party around the pools with food, dancing, tshirts for all and prize drawings. There was much excitement when someone saw a rattlesnake in the bushes beside a path.

Sun’s GHC exhibit hall table is now closed down. The few items left from Wednesday’s large pile of boxes of tshirts, pens, reports, books, and other giveaways are already shipping home. As our little procession of Sun women was carrying those last items to my hotel room for packing, we were stopped twice by students begging for a cool Sun Women in Engineering tshirt. Alas, all of the shirts were distributed by yesterday.

* Panel Slides:
“Solving the Two Body Problem”
by Kristin Yvonne Rozier, Katy Dickinson, Amarda Shehu, and Evgenia Smirni, 2 October 2009 (9 pages, PDF format)

Images Copyright 2009 by Katy Dickinson

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