Yahoo! Women in Tech prepares for Grace Hopper Conference

Panelists and attendees at the opening of meetingWomen_In_Tech_v3

Kim Capps-Tanaka introduces the panelists

On Wednesday, Women in Tech hosted an information session about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world's largest technical conference for women in computing. As a non-engineer, I confess that I expected to just sit in the back and take notes as your humble reporter, but I was really swept into the excitement, and I left with an appreciation for just how inspiring and important this conference is.

The conference itself is a ways out -- it will be held in Minneapolis from October 2-5 -- but this meeting raised awareness for the March 15th deadline for submitting proposals for papers, panels, and posters. We want to be sure to have Yahoo!'s talented women well represented at the conference, and to that end, we heard from past conference attendees, Yahoo! executives, and even the director of the conference itself. Our panelists included:

  • Elissa Murphy, VP of Engineering at Yahoo!
  • Kristen Robinson, SVP of Human Resources at Yahoo!
  • Karolina Buchner, Senior Research Engineer at Yahoo!, and a past conference presenter
  • Fay Hellal, Director of Globalization at Yahoo!, and a past conference presenter
  • Jackie Bernardo, University Recruiting at Yahoo!
  • DeAna Correa, University Recruiting at Yahoo!
  • Seema Gururaj of the Anita Borg Institute, which hosts the conference. She is the conference's director.

You may be thinking: why should I submit a proposal to the Grace Hopper Conference? I have a busy day job, and I've never presented at a conference before. Here are a few compelling reasons that our panelists shared:

  1. It will help you boost your career. When you prepare for a conference presentation, you need to solidify your thinking in a way you may never have to in your everyday work. And more practically, it sets you apart as an expert in your field. After her talk at the conference, Fay Hellal was invited to speak to executives at another company about women in leadership, a specific opportunity that may not have come to her without her conference participation.
  2. You'll meet and share ideas with other talented women. Both Fay and Karolina are still in touch with other conference participants they met, and even years later, the flow of ideas continues. It's an unparalleled networking opportunity.
  3. It helps Yahoo! recruit talented women. Last year, over 3,000 attendees flocked to the conference from all over the world, including the best and brightest computer science students. At the conference in the past, Yahoo! has interviewed up to 50 candidates, and extended a number of offers. Our university recruiting team maintains a booth, and also hosts an event for invited guests. If you attend the event, you can help with this outreach.
  4. It's not as hard as you think. Yes, you do need to put in the work to make a clear proposal, and if your proposal is accepted, there will be additional preparations. If time is an issue, Elissa suggested talking with your manager, and seeing how you can fit your conference proposal into your quarterly goals. As for finding a topic, you're passionate about something in your work -- what is it?

Elissa ended the meeting with a challenge for us: to have at least five proposals sent this year from Yahoo! employees. We hope you'll help us meet that goal, and Women in Tech is here to help. If you have a proposal idea, come to our brainstorming session next Thursday, 2/21, at noon (an email with complete details will be sent soon). We'll have past presenters there to help walk you through the process, and help flesh out your idea into an effective proposal.