Rackspace Moments from Grace Hopper 2015
The woman on her cell phone in the Houston Conference Center hallway laughed lightly and said, “I’m at Grace Hopper. Yes, Grace Hopper. It’s a celebration of women in computing! Yes, Houston. Yes, 12,000 women in technology!” I would have loved to hear what I guess was incredulity on the other side of that conversation. Yes, there are more than 12,000 women in technology, and many of us converged in Houston last week.
I’ve been to the Grace Hopper conference three times now. In Minnesota, there were over 4,000 people in 2013. Last year, in Arizona, there were 8,000 people, and this year, in Houston, we topped 12,000 people. And believe me, it is mostly women. All the talks have been uploaded, and there were over 500 talks in seven clusters: Career, Emerging Tech/Best of, General Sessions, Open Source, Organizational Transformation, Productization, and Technology.
For me, a highlight from the conference was the addition of the open source track. I had one happy afternoon where I sat in the same room and listened to all the open source talks I could. I also gave my talk: Collaborating on GitHub for Open Source Documentation. First I listened intently to Elizabeth Joseph’s talk about the system admin work she does for the OpenStack Infrastructure project. Here we are, ready to talk:
Afterwards, I had the sweetest experience, meeting Marina Zhurakhinskaya, the coordinator for the Outreach program for Women. She has done more for women in open source than anyone I know, tackling the issue she saw of fewer women applying for open source internships than men. I gave her a huge hug! She recently received an O’Reilly Open Source Award. She makes me smile so, so much. She’s busy right now, as the next round of internship applicants are busy completing their small patch, finding mentors, and identifying projects they can work on for three months in open source. The deadline is November 2nd, and you can read more about how to apply for OpenStack’s Outreachy internships.
Speaking of open source, Egle Sigler and Dana Bauer led a workshop on Open Source Day, teaching us how to use OpenStack resources to launch an entire application. The materials are all available on GitHub, and Egle said it was the highlight of the conference for her.
I asked more Rackers for their favorite memory of the conference. I personally love this photo in the car of a Racker Tools team driving from San Antonio to Houston.
When I asked Sara Safavi about her favorite part of Grace Hopper, she said it was the Building Your Career workshop. She and Kacie Houser got to meet and mentor more than 80 students in less than three hours. I saw them in the hallway after their session, and they both exclaimed how awesome it is to feel like you know what you are talking about and have people hang on your words, listening so intently!
Another favorite moment from GHC was hearing from Malini Bhandaru of Intel, and the joint recruiting session we had with Intel. Malini gave a great overview of OpenStack in the open source track and shared that she had been to the first Grace Hopper conference in the mid-1990s when it was about 500 women in tech in Washington, DC. To think of where we have been and where we are going is exciting. As I gain wisdom and experience and hope to age gracefully as a woman in tech, I think of the past, present, and future converging and smile, knowing that we are making a difference for woman at many career stages.