10.16.18 | Kendrea Williams |
Last month, I hopped on a plane to Houston ready to celebrate and network with thousands of other women in tech and computing at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration. The Grace Hopper Celebration is the self-described “world’s largest gathering of women technologists.”
Thank God I prepared! For the next three days, I had the honor to meet with some of technology’s best and brightest women leaders in the industry. Women, corporations, and universities from around the world were a part of this dynamic experience. The crowd was undoubtedly diverse, including students, new graduates, and women like me who have transitioned into a computing or technical role, mid-career. It was amazing!
Power in Unity
Our keynote speaker was a phenomenal woman by the name of Jessica Matthews, a Nigerian-American CEO and founder of Uncharted Power which produces Soccket, a soccer ball that can be used as a power generator. She delivered a powerful message regarding women and the available roles in the tech space, in addition to demonstrating a new power-generating jump rope. All while wearing heels!
Another phenomenal woman that I met while at the conference was Jovita Jenkins. While Jessica Matthews can be considered a millennial and a new female thought leader in the tech space, Mrs. Jenkins is regarded as a pioneer. In a time where educational opportunities were a rejected notion altogether, Mrs. Jenkins overcame those odds and entered the tech space by receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics. Her academic success qualified her to work in a technology lab, working on fascinating projects like the first B150 bomber, as well as spending much time working for NASA. Her arguably most notable accomplishment is that she retired as a lead engineer for TRW, Inc., where she led a team of men.
This expansive, impactful experience concluded with a strong message from professor Anita Hill in the wake of the #MeToo movement. She encouraged women to show up and be present. She invited us to speak up for ourselves and our fellow sisters when it comes to dismantling systems meant to oppress or silence women.
A Sense Of Belonging
I left that conference with not only a sense of relief, but I also left feeling like I could finally shed the dreaded “imposter syndrome” which was keeping me from exploring a technology-related career. And it was the messages from the likes of Jessica Matthews, Jovita Jenkins, and Anita Hill, all screaming loud and clear:
“You belong here…in tech!”