Tag Archives: ghc10

Grace Hopper 2010 keynote update: Now “Cross-boundary Collaboration”

Yesterday, I wrote about the talk description for one of the Grace Hopper 2010 keynotes. The talk description began with an anecdote in which Le is told by a male colleague that he never thought of her as a woman, and she responds with “That is one of the best compliments I have ever received in my professional life!” The rest of the description is in a similar vein.

I saw the talk this morning and I’m pleased to report that it did not have much if anything in common with the published talk description. Originally entitled “Camaraderie & Cross Gender Collaboration,” the talk Duy-Loan Le gave today was entited “Camaraderie & Cross Boundary Collaboration,” with definitions of three specific boundaries that were not directly related to gender. It was what you’d describe as an inspirational talk – positive, not heavy on specifics, and anecdotal – and focused more on cultural and racial challenges than gender.

I am thrilled that the actual talk given by Duy-Loan Le did not resemble the talk description I found in the GHC 2010 program. I am still shocked and surprised to find that talk description in the conference materials for a women in computing conference. This kind of opinion – that women should not be women in order to succeed, and that women are responsible for becoming more like men to make them comfortable – was doubly surprising because the organizers of a women in computing conference should know better.

I do think the organizers of Grace Hopper failed their audience by allowing this talk description in the official conference program. By doing so, they gave these opinions added weight from association with “the” conference on women in computing. I would like to see some response from the organizers counteracting the effect of this publication – or, if all else fails, from the women in computing community at large.

Grace Hopper keynote “Camaraderie & Cross Gender Collaboration”

Dear Lazyweb,

How many sexist fallacies can you list in one comment on this talk description? You may link to Feminism 101 to save on typing.

Background: Tomorrow morning is the first keynote speech of the Grace Hopper 2010 conference, “Camaraderie & Cross Gender Collaboration“, by Duy-Loan T. Le, a senior fellow at Texas Instruments.


My male colleagues laughed a good laugh with me. Then one gentleman, let’s just call him Mr. Jones, said rather matter-of-factly, “I have never thought of you as a woman!” I laughed and replied, “That is one of the best compliments I have ever received in my professional life!”


What played out in that room that day demonstrates, in my opinion, an ultimate requirement one must have in order to be part of a group: camaraderie! If we women can appreciate how important camaraderie is when working with men – and our part in fostering it – the good old boys’ network becomes a lot less exclusive and less of a barrier.

Read the full text of the keynote description here: Full text | one page PDF | full program PDF [large]

Update: The actual talk had very little to do with the talk description (whew!).

Hello from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing!

The 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is kicking off today in Atlanta. Those of you who are here: keep an eye out for me — I’d love to chat with GF readers if we can manage to meet up. One good time to find me is the poster session, since I’ll be tied to my poster and easy to track down, and another good time is to catch me speaking at 4:15 on Thursday on the Getting Started in Open Source panel.

For those of you not here, there’s a few ways you can enjoy the conference without attending, which Kate summarized in her post Attending GHC from afar.

Here’s some links:

  • You can check out the blog and the community blog feed where a variety of volunteer community bloggers will be talking about the sessions they’ve attended. I’m one of the many community bloggers!
  • If you want more detail about a given session, there’s also the GHC10 notes wiki which will include notes on many of the sessions.
  • There’s no live streaming of the sessions, but you can search for the #ghc10 hashtag on twitter to get the live tweets from the conference, or listen in on chatter from <a href="http://twitter.com/ghc/ghc10-attendeesthe list of conference attendees.
  • Not up to drinking from the firehose? You can also follow @ghc, the official conference twitter account, or just the ghc10 speakers (that includes me!)
  • There’s a GHC 2010 flickr group for photos. You’ll probably start seeing those go up tonight!
  • Just because it’s not live doesn’t mean there’s no video! Check out the ghc2010 youtube group. Ed and Ashley did great 5 minute interviews last year, and I’m looking forwards to seeing what the other community volunteers will take this year!
  • And there’s a facebook group for ghc10 too.

Too Few Women in Tech? There’s more than you think.

This was originally posted to my personal blog

This post entitled Too Few Women In Tech? Stop Blaming The Men was making the rounds when I got back from camping yesterday. It’s a “just do it” rallying cry, which is not unreasonable (more women trying will likely result in more succeeding) but one that’s made a bit blindly, unaware of some of the barriers that those who try are facing.

There’s already an excellent response out there which says most of what I wanted to say: Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Playing the Blame Game. Basically, quit trying to blame it all on men or women or society or math test scores and try working together to create solutions. All of these things (and more) are to blame, but pointing it out isn’t nearly as helpful as finding work-arounds.

But there’s still one thing I’d like to pull out of the original article:

We beg women to come and speak. (…) And you know what? A lot of the time they say no. Because they are literally hounded to speak at every single tech event in the world because they are all trying so hard to find qualified women to speak at their conference.

Let me tell you a story. One year, it was announced that one student in my department was going to get a special job. Over the months afterwards, I heard a lot of grumbling. The problem was not that said student couldn’t do the job: the person was an excellent candidate. The problem was that the student had been the only candidate. The university had quite a number of other talented students, and they had not been made aware of the upcoming position or given a chance to apply. The person who got the job was the same person regularly nominated for special scholarships, invited to special events, seemingly given first right of refusal in many other projects. The upper academia equivalent of a teacher’s pet.

The problem was that the university saw themselves as having a single exceptional candidate, when in fact they had probably 10, 30, or more.

I think this is what’s starting to happen when it comes to women in tech. Sure, there might not be enough of us. Sure, it’s no where near the 50% of the population. But that doesn’t mean you get to ask the 5 women you know or have seen speak before and then sigh and say “it’s too bad no women want to participate.” Like the university, you’re probably missing at least 10 times as many who are qualified, but haven’t been quite so heaped with honours so they’re harder to find.

If all the women you’re asking are all busy, it’s not necessarily a sign that all possible excellent candidates are busy; it could just be a sign that you’re looking in the same place as everyone else.

Because I interact with a lot of other techcnical women, I know there are many good people who just don’t hear about speaking opportunities. And others have so many requests they can’t handle them all.

So in the spirit of being useful, here’s some wider places you should look if you’re trying to find some great women speakers. Maybe not all of them have given keynotes and been interviewed a dozen times, but they’re still interesting people who could enhance your event:

  • The Grace Hopper 2010 schedule includes a many women speakers on a number of topics. (I’m on the open source track!) I found the calibre of speakers at GHC 09 to be especially high, so it’s a great place to start when looking for a great speaker. Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates? Talk to @ghc and ask for help making the right connections.
  • Geekspeakr.com is intended to help events find technical women speakers and vice versa. You can search by keywords or just browse around. These folk have all signed up saying they’re willing to speak!
  • My university Women in Science and Engineering group ran the Carleton Celebration of Women in Science and Engineering last spring, and I was especially impressed with the the technical speakers during the day (i.e. before 5pm) because they were presenting graduate level research and ideas in ways that were accessible and fascinating. These women are definitely a cut above when it comes to science communicators!
  • There are many women’s groups around you can ask. I’m a member of Systers (originally for women in SYStems, now a more general women in technology group) and Linuxchix (a group for women and allies interested in Linux or other open source). But there’s lots more such groups.

And that’s only scratching the surface of places I’d look if I wanted to find good female speakers. Need some more help? Just ask!

Linkspam a go go (8th July, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

July 6th is the last day for super early bird rate for Grace Hopper Celebration

Just a quick reminder: July 6th is the last day for the super early bird rate for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

If you haven’t heard of GHC before, it’s a really amazing conference for women involved in technology (especially geek feminists!). Not only does it tip the usual ratios on their heads (hello, >90% women! And yes, that means men are welcome.) it’s one of very few conferences where I can say that even the most technical talks are interesting and well-presented (no boring grad students reading from slides in a monotone here!) There’s also job hunting opportunities, career advice, talks about work-life balance, impostor syndrome, and this year, I’m going to be taking part in a new track on open source, along with Leslie Hawthorn (whose guest post you might remember) and many other excellent folk.

I’ve met some amazing friends through this conference, women who continue to inspire me, and I highly recommend it to all of you.