If I told you about a woman who worked on the Mark I and ENIAC Computers in World War II, who was instrumental in solving a key problem of the Manhattan project, and who went on to develop one of the first computer science languages – COBOL – you’d say they should make a movie about her, something similar to the Imitation Game.
Well that mathematician exists, and her name is Grace Hopper. Sometimes called “Amazing Grace,” she is a true pioneer of Computer Science, and she continues to inspire engineers to this day. No, they haven’t yet made a feature film (they should), but you should check out this short documentary put together by the fine folks at 538 and ESPN films.
At a moment in time, when we’re looking to inspire girls and young women to enter the fields that make up STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – we should look to Grace Hopper as a model of how to thrive.
That’s just what the Anita Borg Institute has done with its annual Grace Hopper conference. Twelve thousand women engineers from around the country and the world will come together in Houston this week to build on Grace Hopper’s legacy, to discuss the most critical computer science dilemmas of the moment, and to answer the question of how to increase the number of women engineers down the road.
Cisco is proud to be a diamond sponsor of the conference, and just as proud that 300 of our best and brightest minds will be attending the conference.
Conferences like these don’t register much attention inside the Beltway, but they should. Legislators and appointed officials from both sides of the aisle have been consistently drawing attention to the under-representation of women in science and engineering careers, and the need for our country to diversify and expand the student pipeline that companies like ours depend upon.
We agree, and that’s why we’re devoting so many resources to this important, and growing, conference.
In careers where men still outnumber women, it’s vitally important for women to connect with other women in order to be reminded that others are on a similar career journey, and managing the same professional and personal challenges that go along with that career choice. And to be inspired, by “Amazing Grace” and the amazing women they will meet this week.
So as the conference in Houston opens, I urge you to think about Grace Hopper’s life and legacy. She defied the odds, made an enormous contribution to our nation and to scientific discovery, and did it at a time when women were locked out of so many opportunities.
Seventy years after Grace Hopper first started working on computers, there are so many opportunities available to women, and we need to unlock even more. For me and many of my colleagues, Grace Hopper will continue to serve as a guiding light and inspiration as we take on this critically important challenge.