Friday, 25 December 2015

My Favourite Moments at Grace Hopper Conference India 2015

Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, India popularly known as the Disney Land of Technology is the largest gathering of Women Technologists in India. I applied for GHCI Student scholarship , not expecting to be selected for the same. But fortunately I got the opportunity to attend the Conference as a Student Scholar. Yaayyyy !!

This was the first time I was travelling without my family. I was expecting myself to be afraid but surprisingly I was not. It was like magic. I call it Sheryl's Magic :D 

During the conference Telle Whitney, CEO and President of Anita Borg Institute asked me my favourite moment in the conference. Now when I think about it... they are so many unforgettable moments I experienced in those three days. Here they go ...

Kimberely Stevenson, CIO of Intel and an amazing woman was the keynote speaker of the event. She spoke about the butterfly effect and how small actions can make big changes. When it was time for her to take question, I raised my hand even though I was shivering with nervousness. In fact I kept my hand raised and asked her the question. Yes, I fumbled while asking but I don't regret it at all. Being a shy, introvert girl for whom teachers had just one complaint in high-school - " She doesn't ask questions or participate in class" - This was a big achievement for me.

The second day of the conference I got the opportunity to conduct an informal surprise Lean In Session for all the GHCI Student Scholars. I along with my friends had prepared a 1 hour session from 22:00 hrs to 23:00 hrs covering Lean In and the basics of Open Source. The session extended to 00:30 hrs.  I started the session with asking everyone "Why do you think you received this scholarship ? " and the majority answered "because of recommendations". I further took the session telling how woman not giving credits for their achievements to themselves is a pattern. Then came negative correlation of Success and Likability, sitting at the table, making your partner a real partner, some tactics of negotiation and not leaving the career before actually leaving it. I ended up reading out Sheryl Sandberg's speech from the book where she asks college graduates one question ( my favourite question) - WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN'T AFRAID? I then recorded the answers and created a youtube video.

During the second day of the conference, I went to the Facebook booth and got a picture clicked with my Facebook posters - " Nothing at Facebook is someone else's problem" and "Let's kick the shit out of Option B". I also met two amazing women Nithya Sivakumar and Zainab Ghadiyali at the booth. They shared their inspiring Lean In Stories. On the last day of the conference , the Facebook team gifted me my favourite poster. I am so grateful to them.  Everyone at GHCI got a lot of swag... but these posters... my favourite poster.. only I brought them back home. Thank you Facebook Team for making me feel so special.

On the last day of the conference, Zainab Ghadiyali who also works for an non-profit organisation asked me ''Tell me one thing you are proud of doing?''. I , very enthusiastically, replied that I am proud of starting Lean In Circle in my campus and inspiring so many woman. To which she replies " Women are usually proud of things they do for others, I am asking what you are proud of doing for yourself". I can never forget this conversation. It was an eye-opener. Though I have been telling women to owe their success since last one year but I never realised I still made that mistake. (It is not easy to change mindset ... Phew )  Nervously, I told her about an app I am creating named GIRLGORITHM to teach algorithms to high-school girls and decrease the gender gap in IT Industry.

The best part of GHCI Conference is the exposure you get and the people you meet. From Rashmi Mohan - Senior Manager Yahoo, Zainab and Nithya from Facebook Team to Ankita, Akanksha, Apoorva, Dinu and specially my roommate Nitika.... I met the most amazing women at GHCI and once again felt amazing to be a part of IT industry.