Grace Hopper empowers female students to land positions in technology

Grace Hopper empowers female students to land positions in technology

I n a profession predominately held by men, more women are entering the technology field. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference and Georgia College are doing their part to make this happen.

Since 1994, the conference is named in honor of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, pioneer in the technology field. She helped create the first computers and also helped women across the globe gain the confidence to land successful careers with major corporations in an industry where they are the minority, while highlighting the contributions of women in the technology field. 

Georgia College students and faculty attend the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration Conference.
Georgia College students and faculty attend the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration Conference.

Georgia College has sent 79 students to this annual conference since 2014 and is now raising funds to allow 20 more to attend this event to be held Sept. 26 – 30 in Chicago. At this time, 10 students are funded.

The lodging cost has doubled this year due to COVID restrictions, which allows for only two students to a room versus four in past years. 

Dr. Tanya Goette (left) and Jordan Mixon attend a previous Grace Hopper Celebration.
Dr. Tanya Goette (left) and Jordan Mixon attend a previous Grace Hopper Celebration.

“Costs are directly related to how many students we send and where the conference is located,” said Kari Brown, coordinator for business outreach in the College of Business. “If the conference is held in Orlando, for example, we are able to drive to the destination, creating lower travel costs. This year, however, the conference will be held in Chicago, requiring additional air travel costs in addition to increases in lodging, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.” 

The celebration—the largest gathering of women in technology in the world—brings students and company representatives together to network and champion others. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference also supports students and young professionals through their various sponsorship programs.

The conference series builds on what students have learned about technology at Georgia College. Each participant is often the only female in their classes. The conference, with approximately 30,000 female technologists in attendance, makes them feel empowered. 

“It allows female students to understand that they are not alone and deserve to be in technology,” said Dr. Tanya Goette, chair, information systems and computer sciences department. “The celebration also allows them to network with individuals who work at Apple, Google, Microsoft and many other large companies, especially in technology, banking, insurance and consulting.”  

“This is more a soft skill, but I learned no matter how scary it may seem trying to network with a stranger in a more formal, professional environment, most people are going to respond with kindness if you approach them with sincerity. Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference really did change my life.”
– Jordan Mixon

While attending Georgia College, the conference was the first time Jordan Mixon, ’16, had been in a room where the overwhelming majority of people were women in technology.

“It was so inspiring to be around them and hear their stories,” she said. “I went back to school with renewed confidence and determination to finish my degree at Georgia College in computer science and find a career in technology.”

For Mixon, the best part of the conference was getting advice from young professionals, and the possibility of landing a mentorship, as well. 

Jordan Mixon
Jordan Mixon

“It can be challenging in technology and academic settings, where sometimes, you could be one of the only girls in the classroom,” said Mixon. “Getting out of my routine bubble and attending the conference gave me a grasp on how much bigger the field is and how many amazing women are already working in it.”

Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference changed her life. Mixon now applies what she learned at the conference series to the work place. A cloud enablement analyst, she helps companies migrate to the cloud or improve their cloud infrastructure, security and monitoring processes. Some of her duties include writing automation templates for cloud infrastructure and migrating hundreds of on-premises servers to the cloud for large companies.

“This is more a soft skill, but I learned no matter how scary it may seem trying to network with a stranger in a more formal, professional environment, most people are going to respond with kindness if you approach them with sincerity,” Mixon said. “Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference really did change my life.” 

Shelby Upcraft at her work station.
Shelby Upcraft at her work station.

The conference is unlike any other environment. It brings women in computing together to provide learning experiences from successful women in the same field and even job opportunities.

“At the conference’s career fair, I learned how to not devalue my skills and experience, but rather be proud of my past success and accomplishments and promote how those may apply in the position I am seeking or even just the daily task I’m completing,” said Shelby Upcraft, ’19.

Now a transformation assurance experienced associate in an advisory practice, Upcraft expresses her gratitude.

“To the donors who supported me to attend the conference, I would like to say ‘thank you’ for this opportunity,” she said. “By supporting my attendance at this conference, you provided me with the opportunity to receive an amazing job at an amazing company I still love over a year and a half later.”

Learn how you can help students like Mixon and Upcraft, attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.