VILLANOVA, Pa. – Women in technology fields can face a number of challenges while navigating their careers. That’s why Villanova University works to help its students identify and attend professional development and networking opportunities to help them reach their career goals. One important event is the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), hosted each year by AnitaB.org and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
GHC is a dynamic celebration for women in the technology industry featuring keynote speakers from tech professionals, workshops and panel discussions, and vast opportunities for networking. This October, five Villanova graduate students in the Computing Sciences joined approximately 20,000 other tech-savvy women in Orlando, Florida, for this year’s celebration.
“I had the opportunity to learn, set priorities and goals for my career, and resolutions to achieve my goals. I can't compare this experience to anything.”
Navya Sree Kupparaju, a first-year master's student in Software Engineering, decided to attend because she knew the GHC would provide networking opportunities to launch her career, but she also wanted to meet other women in technology who shared her interests.
“Grace Hopper was an intimidating yet amazing experience,” Kupparaju says. “I had the opportunity to learn, set priorities and goals for my career, and resolutions to achieve my goals. I can't compare this experience to anything.”
The other Villanova graduate students attending the event were Prathima Mateti, Sindhu Chakradari and Stacy Zhang in Computer Science, and Sira Albarian in Software Engineering. Kupparaju, Mateti, Chakradari and Zhang were sponsored by Villanova’s Department of Computing Sciences, while Albarian received a grant from GHC.
The event featured a wide variety of opportunities to its participants. One of the most highly anticipated parts of the GHC each year is the Career Fair Hall Crawl, during which the technologists mingle with other professionals, explore career opportunities and attend a technology showcase. Kupparaju found the networking experience exciting, saying, “The fact that you don't know in advance who you would be talking to is amazing. I had the opportunity to meet vice presidents of a few companies, and I had no idea that I was talking to someone on that level until the end.”
This year, the event’s theme was “We Will,” a call for women technologists to imagine a better future, using technology to achieve their change. Scattered throughout the four-day event was a series of workshops and panel discussions focused on a variety of topics, including tips to promote intersectional equality in classrooms and workplaces, advice for tech entrepreneurs, and the rising technological potential and ethical implications of artificial intelligence.
Kupparaju felt inspired by the workshops, noting, “I related it to collaborating and encouraging people around us, and together ‘We Will.’ ‘We Will’ is about everything, from leading the next decade with technology, to being the change makers. It's everything.”