“It felt so empowering to be at the biggest conference for women technologists [in the United States]. At first, it was strange to have flipped the typical computer science (CS) classroom and workplace setting, with women filling the rooms, and men being the minority,” exclaimed Jiin Jeong ’21, one of two Hamilton students who attended the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference in Houston, Texas, last month.
Jeong was selected as a CRA-W (Computing Research Association-Women) Grace Hopper Scholar, which recognizes women with an interest in computing research. Over the summer, she was selected for a research internship at Harvey Mudd College focused on sustainability and computer science. Ines Ayara ’20 also attended the conference.
Jeong reported on her experience:
“My favorite part of the conference was being able to explore and discuss further my interest in technology ethics with others. Over CRA-W sponsored meals, I talked with university professors and national lab researchers about the legal aspects of self-driving cars, the algorithmic bias in artificial intelligence, and the responsibilities that we, as technologists, had over future technology.
“I also attended poster presentations by fellow undergrad and grad students. Research that caught my attention was human comfort with unmanned aerial vehicles -- surprisingly, people have less fear of and caution with drones. This could be problematic since they are still in the development state. One of my hotel roommates presented on aesthetic algorithms, and how she used machine learning to generate artwork.
“One interesting workshop I attended was on whether artificial intelligent (AI) agents could be insincere. The speaker gave an example of an AI agent that helps a person write, and we discussed whether the AI had beliefs, goals, and intentions, and was intentionally representing them or not. It was an interesting thought, and the speaker left us with lingering questions such as 'Does an AI need to be sincere, and can we even measure its sincerity? Who is responsible for an AI's sincerity, if any?'
“I especially loved hearing about Grace Hopper, Anita Borg, and Ada Lovelace, and their demonstration of leadership, technical excellence, and belief in fellow women. The conference made me more aware of the need for inclusion and diversity in computer science.
“I would like to pass along a common phrase/hashtag used throughout the conference, #WomenCreate! as well as this remarkable quote from Anita Borg about the potential of future female leaders, that truly inspires me: 'Leaders of the future will have to be visionary and be able to bring people in - real communicators. These are things that women bring to leadership and executive positions, and it's going to be incredibly valuable and incredibly in demand.'"
Ayara reported on her experience:
Like Jeong, Ayara applied for and receive a Google Grace Hopper Travel Grant, a scholarship that covers all conference expenses (registration, accommodation, transportation, etc.). Ayara flew from Scotland where she is currently studying to Houston, for what she described as "yet another amazing experience!"
"I guess one of the most important aspects of GHC is the career fair and the fact that one can talk to recruiters there and even get on-site interviews. In fact, most people walk out of the conference with more than one offer! There is an online database where participants can upload their resumes and get contacted by companies before the conference to schedule interviews while there.
"Although going to GHC helped me get an amazing internship, for me it was much more valuable than that. For me, it was about finding myself within that particular environment, with all those amazing women all doing amazing work. It made me think about where I was going, and where I would want to go."