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Update from the Hopper Conference

I have just attended my first Grace Hopper conference organized by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. The conference sold out with over 1400 people attending. There were a few brave men at the conference but the vast majority of the attendees were women (they even changed some of the men's bathrooms into women's bathrooms). It was amazing and exciting to see so many technical women in a variety of shapes, colors, ages, and backgrounds. I was impressed with the energy, enthusiasm, and depth of knowledge.

The keynote speaker was Donna Dubinsky who is the founder of a new company Numenta that is trying to design a computer system that reasons using a model based on the neocortex of the brain. She was also president and CEO of Palm and had also co-founded Handspring.

Jeannette M. Wing from Carnegie Mellon University gave a very interesting speech about some of the great open questions in computer science such as, "What is computable?" and "What is intelligence?" I was standing behind Turing Award winner Fran Allen in line for drinks and got to ask her, "what attracted her to her career in computer science at IBM". She said that she had big student loans and needed the money!

One of the interesting comments I heard was from a student who said that she was surprised at the number of older women at the conference. Many of the students didn't know who Grace Hopper or Anita Borg were. I had an interesting talk with Kathryn Kleiman about a documentary that she is working on about the female programmers of the ENIAC and how they have never really gotten credit for their work. You can learn more about the female programmers of the ENIAC at www.eniacprogrammers.org.

There is a documentary fundraiser on Thursday, November 8th 2007 from 6pm – 9pm, at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. Tickets are $100.00 each and you can register at www.google.com/events/eniac.

Everyone has heard of Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs but very few people know about the important contributions of women in computer science. We need to do a better job of recognizing the contributions of women in computing and in educating both men and women about the role women have played in computing!

For more information on Grace Hopper see http://gracehopper.org/2007/about/grace-hopper/.
For more information on Anita Borg see http://anitaborg.org/about/history/anita-borg/.
For more information on the ENIAC programmers see http:// www.eniacprogrammers.org.

Barb Eriscon
CSTA Certification Chair

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