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Back to January 2003 CRN Table of Contents

[Published originally in the January 2003 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 15/No. 1, pp. 2, 10.]

Expanding the Pipeline

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women 2002

By Valerie Taylor, Amy Pearl, and Telle Whitney

Co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994 and inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the Institute for Women and Technology's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference ( is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. It is the largest technical conference for women in computing and results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for junior women, and increased visibility for the contributions of women in computing.

The fourth Grace Hopper Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 9-12, 2002 with more than 600 attendees. Of particular interest was the large number of students who attended--366, of which 160 received scholarships. The Grace Hopper Conference was truly an international conference with women attending from Bangladesh, Ghana, Holland, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe, as well as the United States and Canada.

The Senior Women's Summit was held at the same hotel a day prior to the Hopper Conference, and was attended by more than 60 senior women from industry, academia, and government. The theme was "Women Leading Technology in a Time of Change," which was exemplified in four breakout sessions on policy, ethics, education, and leadership. The results of the Summit were presented at the Grace Hopper Conference and can be found at

The Conference kicked off with a reception on Wednesday, October 9, 2002, hosted by IBM's Women in Technology Programs in honor of Dr. Fran Allen's significant contributions to the field of computing. The Conference opened on Thursday with a keynote talk, "The Future of the Internet," by Ms. Judy Estrin, CEO of Packet Design and former CTO of Cisco. Estrin began by describing her journey of co-founding three technology companies with her husband, Bill Carrico, or, as she described it, "building houses without ceilings." This was followed by a presentation about the future of Internet Technology, focusing on what is needed with the Internet Protocol to make it easier to use and manage as well as more secure. Estrin concluded by focusing on how women can uniquely take advantage of the Internet's ubiquity.

The remainder of the day offered very interesting parallel sessions that included panels, invited technical presentations, technical papers, and technology innovation forums. The topics of the Thursday sessions included a panel on "Recruiting and Retaining Women," technical papers on "Ad Hoc Networks," and a panel on "Career Transitions and Choices." The program also included three invited technical talks-- "Living and Working with Ubiquitous Computing: Technical and Societal Challenges" by Dr. Jean Scholtz of NIST, "Simultaneous Multithreaded Processors" by Dr. Susan Eggers of the University of Washington, and "Compiler Technology: Trends and Challenges" by Dr. Mary Lou Soffa, University of Pittsburgh.

Thursday featured the Mentor Match program, a volunteer-based program that grouped senior women with young professionals and graduate students. During luncheon, mentees were grouped with mentors at reserved tables to get to know each other and to identify other times during the conference to network. More than 20 mentors and 150 mentees signed up for this program. For the first time the conference also included poster presentations, which provided an opportunity for researchers to present their latest research results.

Thursday evening's banquet began with the presentation of the conference's first Young Investigator awards. Designed to reward and recognize emerging stars in computing, the recipient of Best Technical Paper Award was Z. Morley Mao, University of California at Berkeley, for her paper entitled "Framework for Universal Service Access Using Device Ensemble"; the recipient of the Best Technical Poster Award was Kathleen McCandless, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for her poster entitled "Taming Kull the Conqueror: Innovative CS Development in a 3D, Parallel Multi-Physics Application."

At the conference banquet, Dr. Francine Berman, Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Director of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI), gave a very "tasteful" keynote talk, "A Tale of Two Positions: Transitioning Through the Glass Ceiling." In particular, Berman discussed her experiences and lessons learned transitioning from the full-time teaching and research activities of a senior-level computer science professor to the more "CEO-like" position of director of SDSC and NPACI. Berman used a banquet format for her presentation, serving up her sequence of experiences as an "appetizer," followed by the "main course," and wrapping up with "dessert."

The second day of the conference, Friday, opened with a very informative keynote talk by Dr. Leah Jamieson, Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, on "Engineering, Community, Passion, and Balance." Jamieson presented the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program, which was truly inspiring. The EPICS program was created to fulfill the complementary needs of undergraduates desiring real-world skills and community organizations that increasingly rely on technology, but often lack the expertise and budget. As Jamieson described the program, snapshots of the different EPICS project were continuously being displayed on the side, providing true passion to her spoken words.

Again, the conference included very interesting parallel sessions following the keynote talk, such as technical papers on "Networks, Protocols and Proxies," a talk on the "CRA Grand Research Challenges Conference on Systems: A Status Report," and a technology innovation forum on "Bridging the Digital Divide: Ubiquity Without Boundaries and Borders." The invited technical talks included "An Open Web Services Architecture" by Stans Kleijnen of Sun Microsystems, Inc.; "Common Security Exposures" by Dr. Dorren Galli, author and former IBM executive; and "Machine Learning Meets the Real World: Successes and New Research Directions" by Dr. Andrea Danyluk of Williams College. The conference also included a short papers session that featured two papers from developing countries, Bangladesh and Kenya, on the state of computer technology in those countries. The second evening was open for attendees to enjoy the Vancouver area.

On the last day of the conference, there were two keynote panels organized by Katherine Tobin, Senior Research Director at Catalyst. Tobin started the panel with a presentation outlining the results from various Catalyst roundtable sessions about what it takes to become a leader in the high-technology fields. This presentation was followed by the first panel on "Leadership Careers in High Tech: What It Takes To Be Successful." The panelists included Kathleen Holmgren, Senior Vice President of Network Storage Marketing at Sun Microsystems; Jill Huchital, Director of Engineering, TiVo, Inc.; and Rebecca Norlander, Group Program Manager, Microsoft, Inc. All three panelists discussed very important issues, including time management and gaining the needed knowledge for a position.

The second panel focused on "What Women Bring to the Table in the 21st Century"; the panelists included Margaret Asihida, Director of University Relations at IBM; Naseen Bhatti, Director of the Computer Training Center in Islamabad, Pakistan; and Carol Muller, CEO and President of MentorNet. This panel focused on the unique perspectives that women bring to technology. The two panels resulted in attendees leaving the conference feeling truly inspired to change the world of technology and the way technology impacts the world!

The conference was enjoyed by all, as indicated by some of the comments from conference attendees given below:

"The plenary speakers were inspiring and informative. It was wonderful to hear from very successful women who were juggling the same issues as many in the audience."

"It was great! Lots of great talks and lots of great panels. I also participated in the mentor match, and I enjoyed talking to my mentor, but also to the other mentees."

"Not only did the conference provide much needed information for being successful in the male dominated world of computing, but it also allowed for wide-spread networking. I was able to befriend some wonderful people that will hopefully be the foundation of a great support system as well as life-long friends."

"Overall, I thought the conference was outstanding. It made me proud to be a woman in computer science. All the speakers were well spoken and highly knowledgeable."

Immediately following the Grace Hopper Conference, the attendees were invited to participate in a hands-on workshop organized by the Shodor Foundation on the topic of "Computational Science in the Undergraduate Classroom.

The sponsors of the Grace Hopper Conference include the National Science Foundation (honorary co-chair sponsor); Cisco Systems, Inc., Hewlett Packard Corporation, IBM Women in Technology Programs, Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A & M University (gold sponsors); AT&T, Compaq Computer Corporation, Georgia Tech College of Computing, Google, Intel, Microsoft Corporation, National Center for Supercomputing Applications and National Computational Science Alliance, Sun Microsystems, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Usenix (silver sponsors); ACM Queue Magazine, American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), PMC-Sierra, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories (bronze sponsors); Northwestern University (contributor sponsor). The Conference was held in cooperation with the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE-CS. The Computing Research Association was the original sponsoring organization of the Grace Hopper Conference.

The keynote speakers were first-rate, the talks and panels were invigorating and thought-provoking, but most compelling was the chance for women to talk with 630 like-minded people, mostly women, whose passion is technology. The effect is abiding!

The next Grace Hopper Conference is scheduled for October 6-9, 2004 in Chicago.

Valerie Taylor, Chair of Computer Science at Texas A&M, was the General Chair of the Hopper Conference; Amy Pearl, Archer HQ, was Program Chair; and Telle Whitney, President of the Institute for Women and Technology, was Fundraising Chair.


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