The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a unique technology conference that promotes and celebrates women technologists. With around 20,000 attendees, GHC18 was easily the largest conference I've ever attended. Aside from its unusual size, one of the more notable differences between GHC and other tech conferences is that most of those 20,000 attendees were women. The sessions at the conference ranged from deep technical topics like machine learning, to leadership and career advice - all of which could be useful to anyone in the technology field. But above all (from my perspective), the Grace Hopper Celebration excels at encouraging networking. Most of this networking happens at the Employer Showcase.
The showcase is a giant space where employers set up booths to attract attendees, particularly those in search of employment. Booths included anything from simple tables with signs, to novelty designs for instagramming photos, and of course swag galore. There were so many big names and flashy booths that walking through the showcase felt like being right in the middle of the opening of HBO's hit show Silicon Valley.
This year, Grace Hopper split up the employer showcase into two parts - about 3/4 of the giant expo hall was dedicated to recruiting booths, while the last 1/4 was all booths dedicated to technical demos.
The showcase provides employers and attendees alike an incredible venue to network, learn, and - for employers at least - recruit! A high percentage of the attendees at GHC are students looking for internships or first-time jobs. GHC provides employers with a unique environment where they can meet young women technologists who are just entering the workforce, and provides students and other attendees with the opportunity to network with a huge number of companies who are there to see them, wherever they may be in their tech journey.
The calm before the storm. A sneak peek at the Oracle recruiting booth at GHC18 before the expo opened.
As platinum sponsors, Oracle had their passion for diversity and inclusion on display with two flashy booths and several cool tech demos. That's right, Oracle had not one - but TWO booths at GHC18!
The booth pictured above was geared toward attendees who wanted to talk about career opportunities at Oracle. Another booth was located in the Technology Showcase portion of the floor and featured a rotation of three Oracle teams demoing their products. The three teams doing demos were Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Oracle Autonomous Database, and the Virtual Reality research team. Each team had its own demo so attendees could learn about each one by stopping by the booth at different times.
Pictured above: The Virtual Reality team demonstrating data visualization using VR!
The demo booth was set up well for presenting demos to an audience of both passersby, and those who wished to sit and listen to the whole demo. Attendees really seemed to appreciate having a place to sit down and watch the demos after spending hours on their feet making their way through the vast showcase of employers!
At the Grace Hopper Celebration, the value that diversity brings to companies was on display wherever you looked, with highlights of women founders, a section with displays describing the historical impacts of women in computing, and talks concerning everything from technical concepts like machine learning to career and leadership advice.
It's hard to imagine what you're missing on teams with few or no women, until you experience something like Grace Hopper, where you are surrounded by women technologists. Going to an event like Grace Hopper can be an eye-opening experience for anyone in technology, not just women.