Impressions of the Grace Hopper Conference 2009
What is the GHC?
It's a conference that brings together successful technical women, students, big technical corporations (and a few brave men) to showcase the technical advances in research that women are working on; to provide workshops on leadership skills, mentoring and how-to-succeed in careers in academia, industry or school; to hold discussions on creating an inviting atmosphere for girls to get into technical fields; to provide a unique opportunity for students to network with women at all levels of technical careers and to have companies (like Google, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo) show their support for women in technology by being present to take in resumes and talk about jobs.
The Keynote speaker Megan Smith
from Google.org. Not only was she an awesome and inspiring speaker, but she talked about the fascinating work Google.org is working on to really use technology for social good -- that was the theme of the GHC 2009. She gave examples of three avenues they are pursuing to make a real
impact on this world:
- Interconnectedness: their initiatives with leveraging SMS technology in Africa to create warning systems (so that villagers can be warned about militia raiding their village) and to share knowledge of safe paths in cities -- this could be applied to any dangerous neighborhoods around the world.
- Civil liberty and individual power: She mentioned cases where technology has had an impact the creator of the technology scarce imagined -- through a facebook group a person was able to call a march against druglords and gangs that resulted in 1000s of people marching the streets of Columbia. Such is the power of this new social network technology..
- The Enivronment: their initiatives with making reusable energy cheaper than coal.
Many interesting, useful things but I shall share the one anecdote that Megan Smith
shared that got me thinking. She mentioned it came from someone else -- but I've forgotten who. She said the questions to ask yourself when figuring out what to do [in life] are:
- What are you passionate about?
- What plays to your strengths?
- Does it matter?
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