Grace Hopper computing conference, showcases work and challenges of India’s women techies

17th December 2012
Grace Hopper computing conference,  showcases work and challenges  of India’s women techies
Two delegates to the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference in Bangalore, Dec 12-14 2012, flanked byTelle Whitney Co-Founder, Grace Hopper Celebrations( left) and Jagruti Bhikha, Director, GHC, India

From Leella Rani Dondapati

 Bangalore, December 18 2012: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, 2012, an annual event from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology together with  the India end of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), India returned to Bangalore last week for three days, reflecting  its theme  Beyond Boundaries”.

Some 800 women  joined the event  this year,  with over 40 participating in the first ever Grace Hopper Hackathon writing  code on Free and Open Source Telle Whitney, co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration and  President and CEO  of the  Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology welcomed  delegates to a a platform to connect with some of the best technical women and  to learn technical insights that allows one  to bring in interesting perspectives, adding: “This effort is about providing tools, knowledge and insights about how to create technologies and reach your goal.”

 Kirthiga Reddy, Director, Online Operations  at Facebook  India, in her keynote, said: “I firmly believe each one of us have the power to change the world. There are certain things in my journey, that resonate with Facebook’s  Values...  like dreaming  big, focussing on impact, embracing the power of AND. Believe in yourself!”

Panelists Karyn E.Folland of  Thomson Reuters, Sunil Mudgal of Deutsche Bank, Lee Wills-Irvine of  Qualcomm, and  Chitra Sood of  Microsoft India Development Centre  discussed pay disparities in the workplace, observing that only 7% of women and 57 % of men around the Globe negotiate properly  for  the entry level salary.

The  poster sessions put up by the conference organisers provided an excellent platform for students, academia, professionals and corporate to  showcase their innovation.Other panelists, Ujwala Kawalay (Symantec) and  Archana Kumar ( IBM Research)  spoke on  patient privacy challenges in the medical data business.   Before moving the data of the patient to the cloud, it has to be encrypted they agreed. 

Meena Ganesh, CEO & MD of the Pearson Education services urged participants to “ activate the Entrepreneurship Within”, learning how to be truly frugal. What kind of  process is vital to see a research effort translate to product development?

Srujana Merugu who worked with IBM till last week thinks: ” Research finally contributes to the bottom line of the company. How to push these ideas to concrete real time products is certainly challenging.

Rounding off the conference was the Women Entrepreneur Quest (WEQ) sponsored by intel and Anita Borg Institute  which showcased some  innovative entrepreneurship  cases.Improving Sales Performance by BRANDIDEA Analytics presented by Shalini Banerjee bagged the Prize of Rs 5,00,000 to help scale the project to the next level.

 Jagruti Bhikha, Director GHC, India in her closing note felt the three day conference was truly learning, connecting experi3ence and indeed a celebration: “Women create technology, in turn technology transforms the world”. 

Why “Grace Hopper”?  Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL. ( Wikipedia)