My First Time Attending GHC-2014

As many of you are getting ready for the Grace Hopper Celebration starting tomorrow, we thought we share with you the experience of Dorra Mlouhi, ArabWIC Ambassador, who attended the Grace Hopper Celebration 2014.

“Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is an annual conference organised by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) in partnership with the Association of Computing Machines, and is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. This was my first time attending GHC. In fact this was my first time at a conference where women were a majority.

From the moment I landed at the Phoenix airport, I could feel a festive environment all around. The crowd at the airport, in the shuttles and taxis, and around downtown were mostly GHC attendees. This immediately created a sense of familiarity among us.

All the keynote and invited technical speakers were amazing. Their incredible career paths, remarkable leadership skills and technical depth were immensely motivating. This year’s surprise guest was the newly appointed CTO of United States, Megan Smith. Although she spoke very briefly, her presence in the conference created a lot of excitement among the attendees.

GHC 2014 had a number of amazing workshops, and they were one the main attractions of the conference for me. There were so many workshops I was interested in that in spite of there being repeat sessions, I was not able to cover them all.

Some of the interesting takeaways from all workshops that I attended (in no particular order) were:

  • People you don’t know well know people whom you don’t know.
  • It is often the number of weak ties that move you closer to your goal.
  • All ideas are built on other ideas; do not hesitate to build on existing ideas.
  •  Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy freedom.
  • Statistics show that for the entry level technology positions, women are paid ~$6000 lesser than men annually.
  • If you are not negotiating your salary then you are making it harder for every other woman to ask for a raise.

Really GHC is the kind of conference that can change your life, you never know who you may sit next to at lunch, on the bus, or in a session. There are some very important people in attendance to these conferences and the likelihood of you meeting one is quite high.

Whether or not you’re currently looking for a job, you never know when you will be. And where do/would you even want to work? Well there are over 100 companies at Grace Hopper dying for you to take notice of them. They are recruiting like crazy. If you’re a college student, you will probably meet one of your future employers here.

Overall, attending the Grace Hopper Conference was an enriching and inspiring experience. True to its name, GHC was not merely a conference, but a celebration of the contribution of women to the field of technology. I left Pheonix motivated, inspired, and full of energy. Thank you Arab Women In Computing for supporting my travel to this awesome event!”

We wish you an amazing  Grace Hopper Celebration!