This past week I had the honor of attending the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration. On the first day of the conference, I sat alongside approximately 20,000 women for the opening keynote. Since it was my first time ever attending, I had no idea what to expect. Sitting in a crowd of 20,000 people…it made me feel so small. But then the keynote started, and everything changed. Accomplished, inspiring women walked confidently onto the stage and told us their stories of how they became computer scientists. Some of these extremely intelligent women were even told that they didn’t belong and that the tech world only belonged to men. With each story, I felt more and more of a connection with those around me. We cheered, we laughed, and we stared in awe. Before my eyes was living proof that, yes, we can make impactful technology and, yes, we will be the generation to break gender stereotypes.
My favorite quote of the day was when Padmasree Warrior, the chief executive officer of NIO, said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and feet on the ground”. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to seeing what other unique and creative innovations women will make.
This theme of self-empowerment was a recurring theme throughout the entire conference. Today, I went to a session about shattering impostor syndrome. What is impostor syndrome you ask? Well, it’s that feeling you get when you think you don’t belong in a certain field of study or job despite evidence of achievement, a feeling better known as “intellectual phoniness”. I quite often have this feeling of self-doubt. What I didn’t realize, is just how many other people have these same exact thoughts about themselves. The speaker, Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, asked everyone who had experienced impostor syndrome to raise their hands…almost everyone in the room had a hand up. I felt an instant relief knowing that I wasn’t alone. Dr. Dena then went on to explain how to break this “self-imposed glass ceiling”, and taught us a few techniques that helped her in her own journey. I left the session feeling more inspired than ever to continue coding and not give up on my dreams.
I’ve learned a lot after just three days of attending this conference, and absolutely cannot wait to share my experiences with those in the lab!
Now, here’s a silly picture of me from the conference! 🙂