Clayton State University Wi2STEM students (Women interested in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) had the opportunity recently to travel to Portland, Ore., to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (GHC11).
The number of women in the computing disciplines is in sharp decline across the United States, and the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), Georgia Power and the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences (CIMS) at Clayton State have put their support behind reversing that trend. One means of doing so is by sending young women to the top computing conference for women in the world.
Wi2STEM students, Zoila Angulo (Peachtree City), Esmeralda Duenas (Atlanta), Christine Gardner (Peachtree City), and Carolina Pichardo (McDonough) were awarded Hopper Scholarships by the Anita Borg Institute to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, aided by a Georgia Power travel grant and funds from two Clayton State student organizations.
The highlight of the conference for these women was hearing the keynote speaker Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.
“I have never seen so much support for women in the computing industry. Listening to other women talk about their struggles and how they made it in this industry helps me understand that I am not alone in this career path,” says Pichardo.
“During the conference, Sheryl Sandberg’s speech had the most impact on me. She gave me reassurance I was in the right place and doing the right thing in becoming a technical woman,” says Duenas.
The students were accompanied by CIMS faculty member Mary Hudachek-Buswell. Gardner and Duenas are computer science majors, and are recipients of the 2011/2012 CREU Grant for undergraduate research. Angulo and Pichardo are information technology majors who shared a first-time experience at the conference. Angulo, Duenas and Pichardo are Hispanic and participated in several important sessions focused on retaining Hispanic women in computing.