GHC Day 1: Reflections

30Sep09

Everything this morning started at 8 am: breakfast, registration, and my first Hopper volunteer session. Thankfully, I was able to skip the long, winding check-in line since I need my badge to start my Hopper session. The Hoppers organizer also gave me my conference bag which contains a plethora of random company bits of swag. She was very nice and let me go grab some breakfast prior to starting my volunteer shift. At the breakfast area, I ran into a girl who was also at the code sprint in Toronto this past weekend!

First Hopper volunteer session was this morning, 8-12. My job was to supervise the cyber cafe, ensuring that no one had food or drink on the computer tables and answering any questions that people might have. I was quite surprised to discover that we did not have free printing available and that people had to instead go across to the business center to print. There also seems to not really be space to sit down and plug your own computer in somewhere.

After the Jo Miller presentation this afternoon, I reflected a bit about what it felt like being a female at Amazon. I never felt like I was the only one, sort of like at this conference. There was the sense that there are a lot of women around to meet as friends, as well as in a professional networking sense. I never really had anyone suggest that I shouldn’t be there because I’m female, but sometimes people would assume that since I’m female, I must be a project manager, not a developer (but we don’t even have TPM interns!) And oddly enough, I have only met female principal SDEs (software development engineers) at Amazon – never male ones.

In the evening, I went to the “For the Newcomer” session which gave some background information on the conference and tried to help us decide which sessions to attend. The first Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference was held way back when in 1994. Originally they ran the conference every 3 years, then every 2 years and finally in 2006, they decided that they had to run it every year! One of their statistics was that as many as 50% of American women define themselves as shy and that this number is even higher among Asian-American women. Personally, I think it is amazing to see this many women in one place and it not being a French class!

The “Must Do” list:

  1. Don’t be late tomorrow morning for the keynotes
  2. Attend both keynotes (Thursday and Friday) – be inspired!
  3. Attend 2-3 of the invited technical talks
  4. Talk with the sponsors
  5. Attend the Executive Plenary Session
  6. Eat!

And now that I’ve finished typing up my notes from today (I’m using my awesome black Amazon coil-bound book to write notes), I am going to go find the Hopper meeting!

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