Despite progress, the technology industry is still overwhelmingly male. Late last year, Deloitte Global predicted that on average, the workforce of large tech companies would be 33 percent female in 2022.
AnitaB.org—a global nonprofit organization—seeks to tackle that problem. It provides women and non-binary individuals with resources, events and other opportunities to develop careers in the tech field.
The nonprofit’s flagship event is the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, named after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper—one of the first women to earn a doctorate in mathematics. Though the conference was virtual in 2020 and 2021, it attracted around 26,000 in-person attendees in 2019.
The Eller College of Management has sent students to Grace Hopper since 2014. Selected undergraduate and graduate students are able to attend thanks to three funding sources: the MIS Department, the Joelle Benson Scholarship and the Tomorrow’s Leaders Equipped for Diversity program, which has been funded by the Panhuise Family Foundation, NCWIT and Microsoft Research. In addition to participating in the conference, the students receive an annual membership to AnitaB.org, which allows them to find mentors, hone their professional skills and access workshops.
Those who attend reap a variety of benefits, from hearing prominent speakers to networking to interviewing with technology companies.
“Seeing so many women technologists under one roof, sharing experiences and realizing that you have a vast support network is truly an amazing experience,” says Neharika Ranjan ‘17 MS (MIS), who attended the event in 2017.
Eishwarya Bhardwaj ’17 MS (MIS) went to Grace Hopper the same year and echoed Ranjan’s sentiment. “I would like to conclude with what I felt when I came back home after the conference, something I still feel: I’ve never felt so small and so big at the same time,” she says.
Eller plans to send students to the 2022 Grace Hopper Celebration. Set for September 20-23, it will occur virtually and live in Orlando, Florida.