Five computer science students from the University of New Orleans were among the 12,000 people to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It was the biggest attendance in the history of the conference, which was held Oct. 14-16 in Houston.
Kristin Maus, Haydee Fernandez, AmbyrShae Jarrell and Hillary Arurang were selected to attend by a UNO committee. Julie Green attended because she is a recipient of the UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science scholarship. The scholarship was created in 1996 by Sabrina Farmer, a UNO alumna who is a Google software engineer, who also provides the selected student with a year’s worth of mentoring.
Funding for the conference was provided by the College of Sciences, Google, Sabrina Farmer and UNO Student Government.
“The conference was really exciting because of all the enthusiastic people talking
about their passions,” said Kristin Maus, a sophomore computer science major. “I can’t
wait to try to go again next year.”
Grace Hopper is presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery. The conference is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.
“Thanks to alumna Sabrina Farmer and Google, UNO has been sending one female computer science student to the Grace Hopper conference for many years now,” said Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science. “However, this year has been exceptional in that five students attended the conference. The support of Sabrina, Google, Steve Johnson and Student Government have ensured that more of our students have this outstanding experience.”
The conference results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for attendees. Presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industry, academia and government. The conference also offers professional development through a variety of activities.
“Given the low percentage of women in computer science and that many large tech companies are eager to increase gender diversity, this conference can provide a supportive environment for female computer science students and great role models, much like Sabrina Farmer,” said Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences.
The conference was co-founded by Anita Borg and Telle Whitney in 1994 and was inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering American computer scientist.