Grace Hopper’s legacy continues to draw women into CS

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Rear Admiral Grace Hopper began her computing career during World War II and is a renowned pioneer in the technology space. She received a Ph.D. in Mathematics and was the first woman to obtain the National Medal of Technology as an individual.

Her work helped open previously shut doors to women, making careers in computer science (CS) possible.

In honor of Hopper’s achievements, Break Through Tech Mason partners with the annual Grace Hopper’s Celebration (GHC) conference. This conference serves to pay tribute to Hopper’s mission while bringing together women in tech from diverse backgrounds to network, collaborate, and learn.

According to Mercadi Crawford, diversity associate in the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Learning (ODIL) at Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing, GCH is an opportunity to boost the number of women in CS.

“The conference is a way to bring women in CS together, and offer them access to presentations and meetings that are beneficial to their careers,” Crawford says. “The number of women in this field tends to be low, compared to males, so this is a way for women to feel connected, and to help female students feel more secure in pursuing a CS degree.”

Besides the networking and learning opportunities, Crawford says the goal of GHC is to empower women and help them feel successful.

“At Break Through Tech, we want to make sure women in this field, from students to professionals, have everything they need to be a success,” says Crawford. “This conference is an excellent way to meet women from around the world and for students to see the paths available to them.”

According to Shahnaz Kamberi, associate professor in Mason’s Department of Computer Science, this year’s GHC did not disappoint.

“Representation matters, and the conference delivered just that,” says Kamberi. “We heard from giants in the industry through keynote speeches. Best of all, we were immersed in an environment of belonging. Attendees got to network and join technical discussions on different tracks such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), data science, and human computer interaction.”

Andrea Motas, a computer science student at Mason, experienced the conference as inspirational and insightful.

I got to hear from female speakers from diverse backgrounds and fields,” she says. “I also picked up some technical insights in things like good coding practices and AI.”

Even for those seasoned in the field, like Kamaljeet Sanghera, executive director at Mason’s Institute for Digital Innovation, the conference was a great learning opportunity, and a chance to see some old friends.

I learned so much, and it was great to bump into old friends,” says Sanghera. “I am thrilled Mason students had the opportunity to attend the most inspiring and essential conference.”  

“This conference is a must, at least once in your career!” says Kamberi.

For those interested in joining Break Through Tech Mason and attending next year’s GCH, email Mercadi Crawford: