Top 10 reasons I love the Grace Hopper Conference

or, more specifically, this conference.

10. Location, location, location.  This year it’s in sunny (and hot!) Tucson; I’ve also gone to it in Chicago, San Diego, and Colorado.

9. Great keynotes.  Last year:  Fran Allen.  This year:  Megan Smith, of Google, and Fran Berman, of RPI.  Sally Ride was the keynote speaker one year—she was incredible!

8. Chance meetings.  I’ve run into people from my old company (and even someone from my old lab!), as well as old professors and mentors.  And I’ve met some fabulous new people every year, too.  I feel much more comfortable striking up a conversation w/ a stranger at GHC than at any other conference.

7. Technical talks.  I still remember a talk I went to last year (I wish I remembered who gave it!) on robotics research at CMU.  It was highly entertaining.  Many of the technical talks I’ve attended at GHC have been high-caliber, and I always learn a ton.

6. Role models!  It’s awesome to see cool technical talks given by strong, successful women, and to meet highly successful women from all walks of life.

5. For once, letting go of that feeling of isolation.  It is such a powerful experience to just look around and see yourself surrounded by talented, intelligent, successful, TECHNICAL women.  (I still remember the first opening session I attended—at the 2004 GHC in Chicago.  It was overwhelming to be in the room with so many other women computer scientists!  When you are the “only one” or one of a few, you tend to forget that there are others out there like you.)

4. Hearing about using technology for good.  By far some of my favorite talks are the ones in which people describe how they are applying CS for the greater good, in communities in need and in less well-resourced areas.  One of the knocks on CS is that people don’t see how it’s relevant to bettering society.  These talks are truly inspirational.

3. Networking with other junior professors and professors from smaller schools; with professors trying to make a difference by changing the curriculum, trying new things in the classroom, trying to form community within their departments among the women.  I’ve gotten some really good tips and advice from informal conversations (and formal sessions, too).

2. FREE CHILD CARE!  (I won’t be using it this year, but I did last year and it was fabulous.  I wish every conference would do this.)

And the number 1 reason I love GHC?

1. It’s the ONLY CS conference I’ve attended where, for once, men are the distinct minority.

Look for my trip reports over the next few days!