Evaluation of the Grace Hopper Celebration 2000

by Grace Ritter, Master in Software Engineering, CMU.

The Grace Hopper Celebration was a great opportunity for me to understand the importance of commemorating and encouraging women in computer-related fields.

My interest in computers is mostly due to my father. He is an engineer and has always been interested in technology and "gadgets". I got a computer for my 16\super th\nosupersub birthday and I just loved it; I knew my future was going to be in either computer science or computer engineering. During my junior year in high school, my family moved to Colombia, South America. Since neither computer science nor computer engineering were available majors in Colombia, I studied Systems Engineering, a subject focusing on how computer systems can help in giving value to information. My class was fifty percent women, which was normal for an engineering major in Colombia. A very undeveloped theory of mine for this unusually high percentage of women is that since curriculums in high schools there are mostly fixed, with an emphasis on mathematics and science, high school graduates are equally prepared to go into any career. As a side note, Systems Engineering and Medicine are the majors most people go to college for in Colombia.

When I came back to the United States to get a Master in Software Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, I was initially surprised that I was the only woman in my class. Then I realized how different educational standards were between the two countries. This made me understand why there was an additional effort put forth to get women into the field, especially at the undergraduate level, where female students really feel the need to interact with other women.

Events like the Grace Hopper Conference are a perfect way of letting other universities know what is being done to attract women. It is a way of discovering what other women are doing in the field, and an opportunity to listen to experiences of how women manage to have a career in computing and a family.

The Conference provided me with several unique opportunities. I had the chance to meet other women in my own school. I was able to exchange information on the subject of women in computing with women from other schools and women working in the industry. Most of all, it gave me the opportunity to make a difference in our school and the community. I am now an active member of the Women@SCS committee at Carnegie Mellon University. I now strive to enhance both the social and educational experiences for all women in computer science and fulfill the mission of this organization.