Commentary & Perspectives

#GHC16 Daily Download: Wednesday, October 19

Today was a very good day. Nearly 15,000 people poured into Toyota Center in Houston, making this the largest GHC ever. And you helped make it happen!

We’ve pulled together a few of the highlights from the many sessions and activities that happened on this hot, windy day. What were your favorite moments? Tweet us at @anitaborg_org, or just use the hashtag #GHC16. See you tomorrow!

Main Stage at the Toyota Center

Do our algorithms show us who we are?
Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Professor of Government and Technology in Residence at Harvard University, provided a compelling argument that data reveals our cultural biases. She reminded us that “a profound number of arbitrary decisions about technology have shaped the way we live our lives.” Gulp. We have work to do.

GHC 16 attendees at the Wednesday Keynote in the Toyota Center

We have a vote–let’s use it
Anna Patterson, VP of Engineering at Google, held up her great grandmother’s poll tax receipt from the first time women got to vote. We got chills. Then she asked us to turn the flashlights on our mobile phones to celebrate that right. Chills again.

Ask for what you want
“I’m convinced that growth and comfort never coexist,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told us. She went on to talk about her own personal journey, and how the decision to seize an unexpected career opportunity – even when she didn’t think she was ready – made a huge difference in her professional life.

Rebecca Parsons at the GHC 16 Wednesday Keynote in the Toyota Center

Shout Out: Top Companies 2016 Winner

Congratulations to ThoughtWorks for scoring the highest on the representation of women in the technical workforce for 2016. Their numbers were truly impressive. CTO Dr. Rebecca Parsons reminded us that, in the struggle to grow the numbers of women in tech, “Good intentions aren’t sufficient – but with social work and innovation, we can and will prevail.” Yes and yes.

Afternoon at GRBCC

With thanks to Betty Friedan, a new problem that has no name
Susan Cain went to camp as a child thinking she and her new friends would be reading novels in their PJ’s… only to discover a very different reality. She’s still an introvert today and knows that we go to way too many meetings. “It’s time to rescue solitude from the myth that everything must done in a group,” she said. We heartily agree.

The art of failing efficiently
Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X, talked about the importance of rewarding people – emotionally and financially – even when their projects aren’t “successful.” His description of their Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) celebration for people and projects was incredibly refreshing. End dead-end projects sooner? Smart.

Telle Whitney at a GHC 16 Plenary

The answers you’re looking for are inside
Our own CEO Telle Whitney gave a very personal talk, sharing her health struggles in the recent years and how she has relied on inner strength to make it through. Watching her be so transparent in a public setting was an incredibly moving experience. <3 you, Telle.

Congrats to the ABIE Award Winners
The ABIE Award Winners were amazing, one and all. We loved it when Bih Janet Shofur Fofang, Founder of the Tassah Academy in Cameroon, pulled out a purple case labeled “STEM BOX” and told us about how she re-purposed hardware like circuits and televisions to help kids learn about tech. That kind of thinking is truly exciting.

Have You…?

Ana Pinczuk at GHC 16 at the Wednesday Keynote in the Toyota Center

Rocked Grace’s face?
Our Grace Hopper Ts are flying off the shelves. Do you have one yet? Come to the Anita Borg Institute booth in the Exhibition Hall and get your Grace on.

Channeled your inner artist?
Painting is a great way to switch your brain into a different gear. Stop by the Expo Hall and add your own personal touch to the murals-in-progress.

Candid: Alexius Gandy, Graduate Student, University of Missouri-St. Louis

We asked:
What one thing will you take back with you from the main stage session this morning?

Alexius said:
Perhaps the best way to answer is to tell you what won’t be returning to St. Louis with me: The sense of failure due to my perceived lack of success and economic mobility; the shame in doing work unrelated to my academic credentials, aptitude, and expertise; and the sense of being alone and having no one to relate to.

Mic drop. We’re out.

See you tomorrow!