Thirty-three students from CST's Department of Computer & Information Sciences will participate in this year's Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). It's one of CST's largest cohorts ever to attend the world's largest gathering of women technologists. GHC brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront, and highlights the contributions of women to the tech world. A virtual event this year, the celebration is scheduled for Sept. 26 and Sept. 29 through Oct 3.

"Grace Hopper provides an extraordinary experience and networking opportunities for our CIS female students," explains Claudia Pine-Simon, an assistant professor of instruction. "The conference's objective is to support and inspire women both academically and professionally."

An important and influential pioneer in the history of tech, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was one of the first women to receive a doctorate degree in mathematics. Her expertise allowed her to join the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II to work on the Mark I computer. Hopper also helped create the first compiler for computer languages, and was the first female recipient of the National Medal of Technology in 1991. To inspire future generations of women in tech, Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney founded the Grace Hopper Celebration in 1994.

"The GHC career fair is attended by more than 1,500 companies seeking to end the gender gap in the technology fields,' says Pine-Simon, noting that the conference has traditionally included many high-profile women, such as Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki, Randi Zuckerberg and Megan Smith. "It is a transformative experience for our students to see so many role models from the 27,000 attendees who share their stories of challenges and successes.

"This year three CIS students, Jumanah Alshehri, Sidra Hanif and Maryam Salawu, earned the conference's prestigious Anita Borg Scholarship, which helps cover registration costs. "There is no other place where you can find so many women software engineers, technical leads and senior executives coming together to talk about what we do with technology and sharing our lessons learned," says Salawu, who also earned an Anita Borg Scholarship in 2018. "GHC is structured to enable women to gain career guidance, technical knowledge and application of that knowledge in the real world, and to build and foster professional networks."

Salawu expects a virtual GHC to feel different this year, even though the most talented students and representatives from top tech companies will still be participating. "The best networking usually happens in person," she says. "It's difficult to get the same effect online. But I am confident that the program coordinators can create an event that fosters attendee engagement and allows for ample virtual networking opportunities."

Beyond attending technical sessions or networking at GHC, Salawu feels "truly empowered by learning from other women. I am grateful that I get another chance to experience this feeling of empowerment one last time as a Temple student before I graduate."

CIS students attending the conference also receive support through the college's Grace Hopper Conference Fund, which receives financial contributions from alumni and friends of the college. Over the past several years, the fund has received support from CSL Behring, Elsevier Publishing, Fast Enterprises, Lincoln Financial, Linode and Vanguard.

-Greg Fornia