Serena Williams, Ellen Pao to headline virtual Grace Hopper Celebration for women in tech

Final 12 months, greater than 26,000 attendees turned up at Grace Hopper.

In the event you discuss to anybody who’s attended the Grace Hopper Celebration — a 20-year-running convention for women in tech — they will seemingly point out the expertise of being in a room full of ladies, coming from an trade the place that is seldom the case. 

This 12 months, although, GHC is shifting on-line. Given the coronavirus pandemic, basically each occasion, from San Diego Comic-Con to Apple‘s WWDC, has needed to translate its audio system, crowds and workshops right into a digital discussion board. 

“[We’re trying] to make it in order that it is simpler to regulate to this new paradigm: making an attempt to attend a world class convention that is jam full of data and alternative to work together with others. However, do it at dwelling, the place there are many distractions,” stated Brenda Darden Wilkerson, president and CEO of, the group behind GHC. 

GHC covers a variety of subjects. Some are straight associated to variety within the trade. You may additionally discover talks on the whole lot from find out how to overcome imposter syndrome to technical subjects like AI and database constructing. 

Final 12 months in Orlando, Florida, GHC introduced in 26,000 attendees. This 12 months, the quantity has already damaged 30,000, in response to Wilkerson, maybe due partially to the truth that a web-based convention means a less expensive ticket and never having to persuade your boss to allow you to take the higher a part of per week off and pay for lodging. 

On the speaker entrance, although digital, this 12 months’s GHC boasts some larger names recognized outdoors the tech world. Tennis legend Serena Williams will ship the opening keynote. Off the court docket, Williams based funding agency Serena Ventures in 2014, with a specific eye on corporations with various management. In keeping with the agency’s website, 60% of investments go to such corporations. Williams can be married to Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who stepped down from his board position in June, and requested that he get replaced with a black board member.

Co-captain of the US Ladies’s Nationwide Soccer Crew Megan Rapinoe can even communicate. Together with making headlines for profitable two World Cup championships, Rapinoe’s been an outspoken advocate for equal pay, a topic relevant to not solely nationwide soccer groups however the tech industry

Throughout the trade, one other notable speaker can be Ellen Pao, former Reddit CEO, who sued investment firm Kleiner Perkins over gender discrimination in 2015. She additionally based Venture Embrace, a non-profit that focuses on variety and inclusion in tech. 

“This 12 months greater than ever,” Wilkerson stated, “what I hope from Grace Hopper is that individuals perceive that they’re vital to their group and their society and that they are capable of achieve some relationships and achieve some information that they will hold going 365 days a 12 months.”

In these pandemic occasions, publications together with The Washington Put up and The New York Times have mentioned how the burden of household care usually falls to girls. Many have already give up jobs to are likely to youngsters and, because the Put up headline warned, it might “set a generation of women back.” 

In brief, not each lady who desires to may be capable of tune in to a session. 


Brenda Darden WIlkerson, proper, is the president and CEO of

Wilkerson stated that is partly why GHC is providing recordings of the session on demand for 60 days or a 12 months (relying on the ticket tier) so folks can watch or rewatch once they have time. 

“Persons are at dwelling, their children are dwelling, their spouses are at dwelling. There may even be competitors for units,” she stated, “We made certain that it is all in bite-sized items. Most issues are not than 30 minutes, so if folks want to leap in and get a style, after which cease and assist their youngsters with the lesson, they’re in a position to try this.”

As well as, in a report on variety, fairness and inclusion, GHC gathered suggestions from attendees on how they’re feeling in regards to the state of the trade. Though big-name tech corporations have put cash, assets and little bit of PR into diversity and inclusion efforts, the numbers have a tendency to talk for themselves. Change is gradual for girls, and even slower for girls of coloration.

The feedback within the report mirror some enchancment within the trade through the years, however not sufficient, significantly in relation to the wants of ladies of coloration. 

“Consciousness of bias and D&I has elevated, which is nice. Nonetheless, the boys membership stays sturdy and ladies should nonetheless show themselves greater than males,” one respondent stated. 

One other provided: “As ubiquitous as variety and inclusion has develop into as phrases, many leaders give lip service to vary with out making the dedication it deserves.”

Yet one more famous that elevated consciousness of the biases girls expertise has been step, however some male co-workers have gotten resentful.

Nonetheless, Wilkerson sees hope in what number of staff do really feel there’s been progress and are taking note of what their employers are doing, or not doing. 

“We’re seeing the ripple results throughout the trade the place not solely are the ladies asking for the problems to be solved, however the corporations are coming to the desk,” she stated. 

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Erin Carson