At the Grace Hopper Convention 2017, I had the opportunity to be surrounded by women with the superpower of technology. The journeys of these wonder women have been paved by taking initiatives, overcoming challenges, and achieving goals. Their stories of success have influenced, and will continue to influence millions of lives across the globe. It was spectacular to see so many powerful women share a stage to deliver their stories of success, stories of struggle, stories of innovation, even stories of failure. These fearless female leaders of technology have managed to break through the barriers, and take a seat at a highly male dominated table.
The women at the convention shared a common goal – to bring more women into the field of technology. When reading the book “<Women in Tech>”, I was appalled to learn that in 2014, less than 10 percent women graduated with a degree in computer science. A crucial reason for this has been the timeless social stereotypes that women face entering any STEM field. This level of involvement, or the lack thereof, is a major concern among many developing industries. The vicious cycle was beautifully phrased by Melinda Gates in her Keynote speech, ‘It is hard to be a woman in tech, so women don’t go into tech, which makes it even harder for women to go into tech, so even fewer women go into tech.’ She further explains the importance of inspiring younger women to develop their potential interest in computer science. Dr. Fei-Fei Li, a Chief Scientist of the A.I. Lab at Stanford University, placed a huge emphasis on the significance of diversity in order to develop a non-artificial Artificial Intelligence. Her dream of a humanized A.I. can only come true when people of different genders, races, ethnicities, and walks of life pool their resources to formulate their collective vision into the development of A.I.. She states, “A.I. is going to change the world. But the main question is, ‘Who will change A.I.?’” Being present in the same room as these women made me acknowledge my privilege and my responsibility to take on the challenge of bringing on this new change.
“I AM a woman entering the tech industry, and there is a man behind my every successful step.”
I was 17 when my father asked me,”What would you enjoy doing in life?” To which I replied, “I love technology”. And I took my first step in the tech industry. My father’s absolute confidence in me, has in turn been the reason for my confidence in myself. Even though I always admired the quirks of technology, it is because of my family’s effort and motivation that I was able to navigate my career in the field of my interest. When I joined Bentley University as an Undergraduate International student pursuing my major in Computer Information Systems, I did not fail to notice the difference in ratio of girls to boys in my Computer Science classes. Coming from a conservative Indian society, I highly resonate with the emotions of ABIE Award winner at the GHC Convention, Mehul Raje as she stated in her Keynote, “If I, who had a privileged upbringing and powerful role models had apprehensions about my potential, one can only imagine the struggle of one, who has grown up without the same motivation, but to constant discouragement.”
I have always been passionate about the issue of ‘Women in Technology’ and I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Bentley University, especially the CIS faculty for finding me worthy to be sponsored to attend this convention. The convention has not only allowed me to watch the technological advancements women are making in our society, but also be a part of the sisterhood created within. President of Bentley University, Gloria Larson made her mark in the future of technology by encouraging the need of hybrid educations, which is an integration of business concentrations with liberal arts and sciences. The creation of the field, Computer Information Systems is the beginning of this flexible initiative. Being a student of this vital techno-commercial specialty, I will forever be grateful for this innovation. Today, I feel empowered that I am surrounded by so many powerful women along with their male allies, who are determined to change and influence countless lives.
I can only wish that someday I am capable to inspire even half as many lives as these role models have.
Image 1.0 Bentley at GHC: Anoushka Mishra (Me), Mae Keefe, Professor Xinru Page, Professor Monica Garfield