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What I Learned at Grace Hopper: Collaboration Is Crucial for Improving Gender Diversity in Tech

In October I had the privilege of attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for the first time. I am truly in awe of how transformative and inspiring this conference is.

Grace Hopper is the largest event for women in computing. It’s a place for women to come together and get inspired by other women who are inventing and innovating. After three days of amazing keynotes and technical sessions, I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be a woman in tech!

Where My Girls At?
I started my career in 2008 and quickly became passionate about improving gender diversity in tech. The photo of my first team may help you understand why. Taken within my first few months of joining a large tech company, it’s a great snapshot of a typical lunch outing with my team. Believe it or not, this was not a staged photo. I was really the only woman in attendance.

boys Read More »

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On the Floor at Grace Hopper 2015

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Heading into a conference, you never know what to expect. Heading in to my very first Grace Hopper Celebration conference, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m relatively new to Cisco, and I knew that we were there to show our talent for disruption. What I didn’t count on was seeing up close a side of Cisco that the world may not know about.

The trade show doors swung open on Wednesday evening at 5pm, and the crowd of women in tech – thousands deep – rushed in to scout out the booths, epic swag, and network. There were at least 15 attendees from Cisco there to welcome them with open arms. As someone who was all but raised in Orlando, Florida I can tell you that the equivalent to this experience is Disney World on Christmas Day. As far as the eye could see? A crowd existed. Everywhere you turned? There was someone to reach out to and talk with. Opportunity was everywhere.

In addition to some powerful motivation from key speakers (including a NASA Astronaut!) the highlight for me was meeting former Cisco interns, prospective Cisco interns, current Cisco employees (including these strong women!) and friendly faces from other companies who admired what Cisco was doing.

We were there to inspire these women in tech to reach new heights. One of the conference slogans was “Our time to lead” and you could not only see the excitement, but feel it. In the midst of the action, was where you could find the Cisconians. The booth glowed, literally and figuratively, and everyone was buzzing about just how awesome Cisco represented.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

This is Cisco?!” a former Cisco intern admired, “This is incredible!” She turned to a friend, “I’m so proud of them!” and then turned again to show me her Cisco backpack, “I loved interning with you guys!”

Maybe she hadn’t yet learned what I knew. That Cisco has a new passion for disruption and for showing up differently. A passion for making sure women in tech have a voice in the industry. And the “cool” factor of a new CEO, a new leadership team, and a renewed excitement by employees.

Our booth was an eye-catcher filled with clean whites, brilliant blues, and a warm, bright feel. We featured a glowing statue, which we affectionately call “Penelope” as a representation of our strong tech-savvy women. Executive meet and greets and Innovation Cafes featuring Cisco’s many specialties from IOT and even a WebEx session with employees that couldn’t be there in person also kept the energy sky-high. We were also designing customized screen printed t-shirts onsite with a little help from our friends at the OMG Bus out of Houston, Texas.

At any conference, bringing a “swag bag” is a good idea, because there are giveaways everywhere. But the swag at the Cisco booth was what everyone seemed over the moon about. Those customized screen printed tshirts drew lines sometimes an hour and a half long. But no one seemed to mind. While standing in line (which attendees said was “worth it!”) many continued to network with new people.

We were there to inspire these young women, but you know what? They inspired me. And Cisco inspired me all over again.

I’ve worked for a lot of great companies before Cisco, and yet I’ve never had an experience quite like this one. Everyone I spoke to between Wednesday night, and even waiting for my flight back to Orlando Friday evening (as women from the conference spotted my Cisco t-shirt), had some out-of-this-world praise for us. The company pride I felt for Cisco put me on cloud nine for days, and I think it helped us to make a lot of new friendships for the future.


Interested in joining Cisco’s future? Check out our open positions!

Miss some of the GHC action? You can see highlights from this Storify.

We also shared our experience from the floor on Instagram! Give us a follow.

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Define Your Future @Cisco

I am looking forward to the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference, Oct 14-16 2015, Houston, Texas.

From Cisco Women in Cybersecurity to extraordinary software developers and inspiring executive I invite you to join us at Cisco to invent together.

Monique Morrow

Intercloud, security, and IoE are all areas that present massive opportunity for re-invention and innovation. The need for enhanced security is real Read More »

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8 Career Tips From Cisco’s Awesome Women In Technology

Think Like a Girl

Cisco employees, who also happen to be women technologists, are gearing up to attend/speak/participate in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in October. During the conference, upcoming women technologists will be receiving lots of career advice.

Some members of the Cisco WISE employee resource organization (Women in Science and Engineering) are already prepared. Their advice works not only for women in technology, but for all technologists.

  1.  Never give up. You’ve worked so hard and don’t let it stop you from reaching your goal. – Cisco IT Analyst Sabina Chaudhuri
  1. Network. This is how I got into Cisco. – Cisco Software Engineer Sharmila Palani
  1. Believe in yourself. Understand your capabilities and do not be afraid of exploring new opportunities. – Sr. IT Engineer Noela Botelho
  1. Be yourself and SPEAK UP!Cisco Software Engineer Dena Madhwani
  1. Be confident, be passionate, achieve! – Cisco Manager Software Development Engineering Nita Laad
  1. Never give up on your dreams. –Cisco Software Engineer Rehka Rawat
  1. Be Fearless! – Cisco Software Engineer Avni Baveja– (who came to Cisco through a previous Grace Hopper event!)
  1. Pay it forward – all of the Cisco WISE members share a passion for inspiring the next generation of women in tech. Cisco Software Engineer Sheetal Bhogale says “ We NEED to see more women in Technology.” And Cisco Software Engineer Rimu Bhardwaj, says “Cisco has a wide variety of fields that people can work in. It is hip and has lots of perks! Cisco is definitely cool!”

Won’t you join us?

Cisco WISE Why I Chose Cisco

Cisco’s WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) group shows why they chose Cisco.


Cisco WISE Why I Chose Cisco

MORE Cisco WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) members show why they chose Cisco.

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#CiscoChat Seize the Moment and Make your Mark at Grace Hopper

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The Grace Hopper Celebration Conference is upon us once in two weeks in Houston, Texas  and Cisco is proud to be a Diamond Sponsor recognized as a leader in diversity and highlights our continuous commitment to increasing the impact of women in technology.

For the last 13 years, GHC has strived to bring together women technologists to help increase visibility of the valuable contributions of women in computing. This year the conference is expected to have grown to 11,000 attendees from last year’s 7,800 attendees. Inspired by the  legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women In Computing Conference was co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994. The idea behind the conference was to catapult the research and career interests of women to the forefront and now it has become one of the world’s largest gatherings for women in computing.

Women and computers

Cisco’s goal of participating Read More »

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