If you’ve been in the CS world for a while, you probably know who Grace Hopper is. If you don’t you’re kind of living under the proverbial rock. PSA: Grace Hopper was a famous computer scientist (also a United States Navy Rear Admiral) known for inventing the first compiler for a computer programming language and coining the term “bug,” among heaps of other accomplishments. In a nutshell, she’s a bad-ass lady.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a conference named in her honor: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC). GHC is “the world’s largest gathering of women technologists,” featuring dozens of tech talks, meetups, career development workshops, a super-mega-career-fair-on-steroids, and keynotes by prominent figures in tech.
This year I had the opportunity to attend my 2nd GHC a couple weeks ago. As I’ve reflected back on the experience, I’ve realized that one of the of the most important messages I got from the conference came from it’s name. Note: It’s the Grace Hopper CELEBRATION of Women in Computing. Not the Grace Hopper Mope-fest of Women in Computing or the Grace Hopper Rage-party of Women in Computer. Nope, it’s a CELEBRATION – a lovely word that conjures up images of pinatas, streamers, balloons, and cake.
Because if I’m being honest, as awesome as GHC is, it would be ideal to live in a world where it doesn’t even have to exist. However, it does exist because there are deep rooted gender-disparity issues in our society and, by extension, our tech world. There’s many legitimate reasons for women in tech to complain, mope, gripe, and rage. But as easy as it is, only dwelling on the negative aspects doesn’t do us any good.
So the fact that GHC is a CELEBRATION is important because it urges us to recognize the positive. It reminds us the celebrate all the technical achievements women have made in our field. To celebrate all of us living the life we wanted. To celebrate paving the path for all future women and minorities by being role models.
I’ve found that this Pearl of Wisdom can be applied to one’s personal life too. With interviewing season still going strong, personally it’s been really healthy to take the time to celebrate my achievments no matter how big or small. Everyone is bound to make mistakes, crash-and-burn in an interview, or get rejected at least once if not a few times. I definitely have. But instead of careening into an abyss of sadness and maybe self-pity, reflecting on my accomplishments helps ground me and balance me out. So really, each day becomes the Meghana Chappidi Celebration of Me Living Life!
Happy Thursday :)