At this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston, I had the opportunity to sit down with Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, to discuss the successes and challenges that women in tech face, and why this year is “our time to lead.” A computer scientist by training, Whitney cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with Anita Borg in 1994. This year’s event hosted a record 12,000 attendees, a 50% jump from last year, and included women from academia, government and the tech industry.
Samantha: Tell me why you decided to name the Grace Hopper conference a “celebration” of women in tech?
Telle: We founded the Grace Hopper Celebration in 1994. At the time, there was a lot of angst about the issues of women in technology, and we purposefully wanted it to be a celebration — celebrating the work women are doing in the computing area.
Samantha: That was 21 years ago. How has the conference changed since then?
Telle: When we started the conference, we had about 500 women attending. Today, we have 12,000 women from 66 countries and 1000 different organizations. The topic of women in technology has become front of mind. The conference has become a cornerstone of the work that women in tech are doing today.
Samantha: What has changed for women in computing and technology since 1994?