Alongside MaryAnne Egan, Ph.D., professor of computer science, five students attended this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Houston, Texas. The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is the world’s largest gathering of women technologist— bringing them together for the opportunity to listen to influential keynote speakers, attend workshops, interact and interview with companies, and gain a greater insight into possible post graduate career opportunities.
The first year Egan traveled to the GHC in 2006 there were 1,300 attendees. This year, Egan and our five students were among the astounding 22,000 in attendance. As of this year, thirty nine Saints have had the opportunity to attend the conference since Siena’s first sponsored attendance in 2007. Egan works with Siena’s office of Development to coordinate sponsorships for the annual trip.
“Seeing the abundance of strong and influential women in tech roles has reinforced my own pride of being a woman in computer science and has strengthened my confidence,” said Brianna Davis ’20.
This years attendees gained insight into the technological advances in artificial intelligence research and machine learning through inspirational workshops and presentations during the 3-day event. Our Saints also had the opportunity to interview on-site and schedule additional prospect interviews after returning—opening the door to several internship and job opportunities. Several former students are now working or interning at influential companies, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Verizon, General Electric, and HP, as a result of the connections they made at the Conference.
“The number of female leaders at the Conference was empowering and inspirational. One thing that I would take away from this conference is to never be hesitant to start learning something new and not be afraid to speak for what is right,” said Rajshree Marhatta ’20.
The GHC’s mission is to “connect, inspire, and guide women in computing, and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative.” They support women in technical fields, as well as the organizations that employ them and the academic institutions that train them.
This mission is something that Egan’s work at Siena deeply resembles. She is involved in researching the influence on the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in Computer Science, and has a passion for the issue of under representation in the field. Egan’s research and the GHC’s roster of programs aim to assist women and minorities to “grow, learn, and develop their highest potential.”
Egan’s students continue to carry the impact of this experience with them even after their time at Siena. She shared a quote from one of her former students: “Grace Hopper is a great opportunity that I still talk about today. The community of women in technology is a community that stays with you. Years after Grace Hopper I still believe that while I do not work with many women in my current role in technology, I am a part of a broader community where I can find inspiration and confidence.”