Students attend the 2023 Grace Hopper Celebration
This year, the Tufts Department of Computer Science sent 30 students to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a large annual conference widely attended by thousands of women and nonbinary people in tech from around the world. The celebration is named after Dr. Grace Hopper, described by her alma mater Yale University as being “best known for her trailblazing contributions to computer programming, software development, and the design and implementation of programming languages.”
The conference supports and empowers women and nonbinary people in the technology industry through mentorship, recruiting, networking, and learning at technical and career sessions, career fairs, showcases, and more. Currently, GHC is the world’s largest gathering of its kind.
One Tufts student who attended this year highlighted participating in a dinner event with Google DeepMind engineers and researchers, where students were able to forge connections with industry experts about artificial intelligence/machine learning pathways, current projects, and future opportunities. Attendees participated in one-on-one discussions and glimpsed what it would be like to work in the field of machine learning.
This year’s conference saw controversy due to an unexpectedly high number of men attending and reportedly behaving aggressively during the event. Brenda Wilkerson, President and CEO of AnitaB.org, which runs the event, emphasized that the conference is meant to be a safe and inclusive space for women and nonbinary workers in the tech industry. She wrote that AnitB.org condemns the harassment experienced by some and that “[Grace Hopper] exist[s] because of this – we exist to stand for and with you against this.”
Tufts students reported that, despite the controversy, they still had a very positive experience at GHC and felt a strong sense of community with fellow Tufts students and alumni. As one student reflected, “I do not think [this year’s controversy] detracted greatly from my personal experience in large part due to the support and camaraderie I had to fall back on thanks to Tufts CS.”
Members of the computer science community at Tufts have noticed that students return from GHC feeling empowered, ready to apply their newfound experiences as they navigate their academic pursuits back at Tufts. The Tufts Department of Computer Science intends to continue sending students to this event in the future, and the Department continues to support women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community in computer science and to facilitate lifelong learning experiences and professional development opportunities for Tufts computer science students.