This year was my second time at Grace Hopper, and it was especially meaningful because I first met Box at Grace Hopper in 2013. It was so fun to come back to the conference as a Box representative (along with 27 of my colleagues) and get to interact with students who may also become Boxers in the future. I'm a Software Engineer on Box's Partners Integrations team (we build the integrations that make Box work seamlessly with other important enterprise software, like Microsoft Office) and I started at Box this past September after interning on the Engineering Program Management Team during the summer of 2014.
In total, 12,000 women attended this year's GHC, which, as Telle Whitney (CEO of the Anita Borg Institute) discussed, was appropriately themed "Our time to lead." It's an appropriate theme because many universities and companies are taking up the issue of diversity in tech, by disclosing diversity numbers, implementing new policies and processes to create more inclusive work environments, and sponsoring diversity scholarships to improve our pipelines (among many other initiatives). It is now our time to lead the charge and follow up on these initiatives, taking them even further and finally changing the diversity percentages in our workplace. This report by LeanIn.org and McKinsey company shows where we're at now, as an industry, and where we're currently heading. This is not okay, and Grace Hopper is an important facilitator of conversations that spark ideas and inspiration on how we can lead the way to a better, more diverse technology industry.
I was also attending the conference as a finalist for the Student of Vision ABI Award. I was selected as a finalist after submitting a brief video I created about founding my school's first computer science club, and I had the opportunity to present the video at the Student Opportunity Lab at the conference. If you're a student reading this, I encourage you to submit your own video for this year's award! If you have a vision for how "technology innovation can solve important problems" or "how inspiring more women in technology enables meaningful innovation," then you are a strong contender for the award (and you're contributing some seriously meaningful solutions to some of the world's biggest problems - kudos!).
Leaving the conference, my main takeaway was a renewal of motivation to affect positive change around recruiting and retaining women in tech. From the people I met at the conference, to the speakers and panels I listened to, I felt re-inspired to keep up the important work around closing the gender gap in tech. I'm excited to drive such positive change back at Box, and I can't wait to see what our team of awesome Women in Tech will accomplish between now and GHC 2016.