Commentary & Perspectives

#GHC16 Daily Download: Thursday, October 20

Day Two of GHC is winding down, but we’re still buzzing with all the amazing ideas and energy happening around us. Women are making connections, getting inspired, and finding new opportunities – and we still have an entire day left!

What did you see or hear today that you can’t stop thinking about? Tweet us at @anitaborg_org, or just use the hashtag #GHC16.

Fan-Girl Moment

Megan Smith at the Expo at GHC 16Megan Smith is in the building
The U.S. CTO is a pretty big deal. Within minutes after Megan Smith arrived at the Expo Hall, she was surrounded by fans. She talked about how technologists are changing governments all over the world, working on complex problems that have been stuck in old, legacy thinking. “We need to show up!” she said. Are you in?

Amplifying the voices of women in government
Megan also spent time in conversation with Telle Whitney, and pointed out several women currently working on technical projects in government. Of one such project, she provided a few tantalizing details: “75 percent of the veterans were not getting through, and now 99 percent are getting through. Wait times went from 35 minutes to 10 minutes. Think about that.” Wowza.

Career-Building Advice

Armany Alshawi at GHC 16Go ahead, take the leap
Amany Alshawi is building a knowledge society for women in Saudi Arabia, and is very familiar with tackling complexity. Her advice? “You must have trust in yourself and your abilities. Don’t wait to say ‘now I am ready.’ If you have the dedication and the passion and the vision, you will be able to deliver at the end.”

Cultivating career advocates: it’s worth it
Economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett provided data on how women and people of color are far less likely to have sponsors within their organizations – yet having a senior leader as an advocate greatly boosts your chance of securing a bigger role or a promotion. “It’s an amazing alliance that can affect the course of your career,” she told the room. Note to self: move this to the top of the to-do list.

Overheard on Twitter

It’s more than just a job fair!! From now on, when people ask me what’s #GHC16, I’m going to tell them, “It’s Computer Science Disneyland!” – @MaveyMa

It feels like i died and went to heaven. Such great and positive energy at the conference #GHC16 – @Norahak

Ladies Who Lunch

Attendees at the Women of Color Lunch at GHC 16Women of Color Lunch
“Don’t give up. You were put here for a purpose,” Dr. Sandra K. Johnson told lunch guests, and she should know: she was one of the first African-American women to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in the U.S. “Enjoy your life. Make it an exciting adventure. It’s the only one you have.”

LGBTQ-A LunchShirts from the LGBTQ-A Lunch at GHC 16
“This is the least binary room you’ll be in at this conference,” Dom Brassey said. And tbh, it was awesome. We had instant envy for the t-shirts on display in the back. Bring A Lesbian to Work Day? A++.

Technologists Doing What They Do

Just build it
Asha Chakrabarty, Solutions Architect with AWS, told a packed room that the cloud has simplified the process of building IoT solutions fast: “It’s frictionless. All you need is an idea, a few SDKs, and an API connection.” We have a strong suspicion that more than a few women walked out determined to do exactly that.

A perfect storm
Ana Biazetti, Senior Technical Staff Member at IBM, revealed that weather data makes a profound impact on industries such as aviation, energy trading, and insurance. Did you know that hail costs insurance companies $1 billion a year? Hello, opportunity.

No CS degree? No problem
Panelists at this discussion provided action steps for pursuing a technical career even without a CS degree. They were: 1) Identify your skills and the have the confidence to learn new ones; 2) Find peers and mentors to help you grow your skills and expertise; and 3) Show off your knowledge and deploy your skills on the job. Go get it!

Award Winner

Congrats to the Social Impact ABIE Award Winner
ABIE Award winner Kathryn Finney told a rapt group about the journey that led her to create digitalundivided, which supports and trains entrepreneurs who are women of color: “We don’t always ask for help… we’re afraid we’re not going to get it. But when I asked, I found lots of people wanted to help me.” We love her advice to go BIG.

Quote of the Day

“Women need to surround themselves with other women and embrace each other, not tear each other down.” – Rebecca Minkoff

On that note, we can’t wait to hang out with you amazing women again tomorrow.

Get some sleep! We’ll see you Friday.