Evaluation of the Grace Hopper Celebration 2000

by Brigitte Pientka, Graduate student in Computer Science, CMU.

The CMU Panel Discussion:

At the panel, the experience of CMU education was presented. The effects of tremendous changes on the undergraduate program in recent years are now visible, with forty percent of undergraduate women at CMU majoring in CS. However, the situation in the graduate program is different. First, no similar efforts to encourage women have been undertaken on the graduate level, and the percentage of women in the graduate program averages to about ten percent. Second, each doctoral and masters program in the School of Computer Science (CS, Robotics, LTI, HCI, ISRI, CALD) has its own admissions committee and academic program. This makes it challenging to coordinate efforts bridging the many fields and build a community across the programs. Third, the needs of the graduate women are somewhat different from the undergraduate demands.

The main motivation for graduate women, such as myself, was to provide social and professional opportunities to meet other women in computer science, and exchange experiences and ideas with them. Our first event, a graduate women welcome potluck meal, was an overwhelming success with over fifty graduate women in attendance. It played an important role in bringing together graduate women from all parts of the School of Computer Science. I thought it was a surprising and invigorating experience! Other events throughout the school year such as presentations on "How to Get the Most out of a Conference" and dinners with female faculty provided opportunities to maintain and strengthen these new ties.

General Impressions:

This was my second Grace Hopper conference and I found it just as inspiring and motivating as the first one. As Tracy Camp said, "Attending a conference with over 600 women, all female computer scientists, is an indescribable feeling." Indeed, I find it very hard to describe adequately the pictures that come to my mind. It was encouraging to meet women who are and will be leaders in our field and stimulating to hear their views on computer science. I was again surprised by the willingness of the women at the conference to talk to everyone and to listen to each other's concerns and views.

For the first time I was part of a panel discussion at Grace Hopper. Before, I was in the audience listening to the panels and being encouraged by them. As a panelist, I was taking an active role. I was happy to share my enthusiasm and energy with other women at the conference --- maybe I even inspired some of them!