Faculty, staff, and students represented the iSchool at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), held on October 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. Produced by AnitaB.org and presented in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), GHC is the world's largest gathering of women technologists.
The School sponsored PhD student Shadi Rezapour, MS/IM student Priya Balgi, and MS/LIS student Sara Rasmussen to attend GHC. MS/IM student Tiffany Lu and Informatics PhD student Priscilla Ferronato also attended.
"We wanted to give our students an opportunity to interact with and learn from women in tech who are innovators and culture shapers," said Assistant Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives Victor Jones.
During the event, Rezapour presented her poster, "How Can We Detect the Impact of Documentary Films from Text? Using Social Computing to Assess Impact," at the ACM Student Research Competition. The poster was based on her research led by Associate Professor and PhD Program Director Jana Diesner, in which they used a mixed-methods approach to predict different types of impact of issue-focused documentary films on people based on user-generated text data.
"The iSchool travel support covered expenses such as accommodation and travel, which was a great and generous help," Rezapour said. "Being among 25,000 women was an empowering experience. One important take away for me was that we, especially women, should always support each other in every situation."
Rasmussen, whose interests include universal design and accessibility, digital inclusion, and data privacy, was able to attend sessions on all of these topics at GHC.
"I saw GHC as an exciting opportunity to observe and engage with women in the tech industry, learn about emerging best practices, see how AI is impacting adjacent tech/business functions, and more," Rasmussen said. "It was amazing to see so many women technologists in one place with one goal—shared support, growth, empowerment, and celebration."
Diesner, Jones, and Assistant Director of Employer Relations Michele Plante attended GHC to recruit top students for the iSchool's MS and PhD programs. Plante also connected with employers to share the benefits of hiring iSchool graduates.
"It was a highly inspiring experience to be at GHC 2019," said Diesner, who had also participated in the event as a graduate student. "Our team fully embraced the opportunity to talk with so many women in tech and to learn more from this amazing community about how to support, promote, retain, and celebrate female talent in computing. The iSchool is strongly committed to these values, and we are looking forward to continuing our recruitment efforts in this area."