I left HighEdWebDev in Rochester NY this morning and I’m thrilled to have landed in Orlando FL for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. There was great energy at the poster session when I arrived. It’s striking to go from the HighEdWebDev scene–professionals managing the bureaucratic change-fearing worlds of colleges & universities, striving to bring innovative technology to their learning communities–to the Hopper scene of women in doctoral programs sharing their fascinating projects exploring future possibilities. Makes me want to go back to school!
Last night’s banquet was quite moving as Fran Allen, the 2007 Turing Award Winner (first woman ever to win) was honored. Each speaker was asked to offer 20 words of advice for the women in the audience: Fran Allen told a story about climbing a 14,000′ Bhutanese mountain. As she was climbing, she noticed that one of the guides was putting stones across a brook for her to walk over. She reassured him that it wasn’t necessary–she could get wet going across. He explained that in Bhutan, they have a tradition: IN my country, we make the path easier for those who come behind. After Allen spoke, IBM announced (and awarded) a new Fran Allen Fellowship which will include an IBM mentor for each recipient–for the first year Fran Allen herself.
Dr. Monica Martinez-Canales, chair of the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, spoke most convincingly about the importance of mentors. She encourged everyone to find a mentor and hold on tight: ask them how you can be like them, and take their advice.