From Leela Rani Dondapati
Bangalore, November 23, 2014: Over 1600 women software professionals and students took part in the fifth Annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing India(GHCI) Conference 2014, earlier this week. It was organised here for three days ( November 19-21) by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) in association with the Association of Computing Machinery India (ACM India) from 19 -21 November, 2014.
The theme for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in India was “Think Different; Make a Difference.” The conference celebrated the diverse perspectives and contributions women are making to technology, and the vast opportunities technology offers tem to make the world a better place.
Over 150 women participated in the Grace Hopper Hackathon held concurrently.“Tech for Good”, was the theme -- Technology Based Solutions to address Humanitarian Problems.
“The mission is to unleash the entrepreneurship potential in women,” said Shaila Srinivas, Chairperson of the Hackathon. (It was) “a great platform to collaborate and work with peers for projects that have a much larger objective of building solutions for global humanitarian problems,” said a participant at the event.
A brief peek into a few apps that were developed…
Kaam Hai: Referral based platform for maids, cooks, drivers etc. Connecting low end job seekers with potential employers through human networking.
Expert Care: The fetal / neonatal mortality rate in India (especially rural Karnataka) is alarming due to lack of awareness among Expecting Mothers. The "ExpertCare" app will send nutrition alerts through IVR calls to expecting Mothers in rural India where Internet has still not set foot. Based on their responses, they will receive calls to ensure regular intake of medication under the doctor's supervision.
Play for good: A Mobile app to help people to get away from the excessive usage of apps like gaming, social networking and at the same time donate for a social cause.
Said Telle Whitney, co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration India & President and CEO, Anita Borg Institute in her inaugural address: “ At the Anita Borg Institute we envision a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies who use it...People from different backgrounds—whether cultural, socioeconomic or otherwise—bring different perspectives to their teams, which can more accurately reflect their users’ wants and needs. A woman in a group made up mostly of men can bring invaluable insights to the table. Teams that include diverse perspectives deliver increased innovation, better problem solving and group performance, and improved operational and financial performance.”
From the keynotes...
‘Start Today: Your Journey to a Great Career’, was the theme for Jane Moran, Unilever's Global Chief Information Officer, in her keynote: “Passion for technology, business acumen, leadership skills & careers goals are extremely important for a great career in the technology industry...“Young and enterprising women need to understand how the business operates in all its aspects to be an effective business leader. It is necessary to speak and breathe the business language and also build strong and durable partnerships through constant and regular networking."
“The Government of India has initiated several measures to promote entrepreneurship among women as it realizes the critical role of women in national development. However, the government alone cannot sustain the movement of empowerment of women. There is need for organizations such as the Anita Borg Institute to act as catalysts and based on that belief we have entered into a partnership,” said Dr. Anita Gupta of the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
“Women are stepping forward and breaking the glass ceiling on their own, we believe that to accelerate this pace there is tremendous value in sharing best practices across our nations", said Dr. Smriti Trikha of the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.
Jayshree Ullal, President and CEO of Arista Networks, spelt out a five-point formula for the young and aspiring computer professionals to make a success of their career choices in the computing world in this conference.
Anita Borg Institute Partners with Government
The non-profit Anita Borg Institute, has partnered with the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem for women entrepreneurs in India. The ecosystem will be established through the Women Entrepreneurship Quest (WEQ) Program. WEQ is an innovative technology business plan competition designed by the Anita Borg Institute to promote innovation and ensure support to aspiring Indian women entrepreneurs, held annually. The winner is awarded Rs 5,00,000 along with a host of other special awards.
The 6 women entrepreneur-finalists get a paid trip to the (US) Silicon Valley to explore the Entrepreneurial Culture and the Ecosystem there. They will receive extensive mentoring, networking opportunities and access to capital, which is one of the biggest obstacles to growth for women entrepreneurs.
“We are extremely delighted to have partnered with NSTEDB, DST & IUSSTF to promote women entrepreneurship. Supporting women entrepreneurs is a key part of ABI’s mission, and over the years ABI has developed programmes to support entrepreneurship among women”, said Geetha Kannan, India Managing Director, Anita Borg Institute. “In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in women-led businesses which is truly encouraging and I am confident that this partnership will help identify and support women entrepreneurs to set up innovative companies that can lead to job creation and business opportunities in local and international markets.”
Women Entrepreneur Quest, 2014 : Six finalists were selected from 107 entries that were received from across India. These finalists gave ten-minute venture pitch presentations to a panel of judges that included investors, technology experts, entrepreneurs and mentors. Sreepriya Koppula, CEO of the Turnaround Systems, won the WEQ 2014 Contest. She developed a technology solution ‘Turnaround360’ to make online catalogues 3-dimensional and interactive. Sreepriya bagged a cash prize of Rs 500,000.
Read our 2013 event report.
Read our 2012 event report
Read our WEQ 2014 story