Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM. Dr. Latanya Sweeney, professor of Government and Technology in Residence at Harvard University. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff. It was exciting to see these inspiring leaders keynote at the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
With all due respect, though, I didn’t see these industry leaders as the stars of the show at this year’s Grace Hopper Conference in Houston.
The real headliners at Grace Hopper 2016 were the nearly 15,000 women and estimated 1,000 men — students, executives, and everyone in between — who came together from all over the world to celebrate equality.
It’s no secret that women in tech are underrepresented and oftentimes underpaid. In addition to showcasing technical job opportunities for women, the three-day Grace Hopper Celebration sheds light on the challenges women technologists face and what it will take to foster equal workplaces. The conference unites top tech companies and the women who work (or hope to work) in this dynamic industry.
We came together, we learned, and we had a ton of fun doing it.
Sharing breakthrough moments
I went to the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration on a mission to listen. With my friend and GoDaddy colleague, Jillian Johnson, I set up a camera in the exhibit hall and interviewed female passersby about their breakthrough moments. We wanted to learn about their “aha!” moments — when they broke through a barrier that held them back and found passion for a career in technology.
What we learned was that negotiating a raise, asking for a promotion, speaking up in meetings, and nailing a dream job were common breakthrough moment themes.
My favorite story was from a woman named AJ. When I asked her, on camera, what her breakthrough moment was, she said she hasn’t experienced it yet. She has been working in technology for 16 years and still, every now and then, feels that hint of impostor syndrome creep in. I appreciated her honesty, as I’m sure there are plenty of other women with similar feelings.
You can check out more breakthrough moments on Twitter through the hashtag #BreakthroughMoment, and see some of our favorites here.
Breaking through with transparency
Although there isn’t one clear solution to fixing the gender gap, one common recommendation throughout the 2016 Grace Hopper conference was to press tech companies to be transparent about their salary data.
For the past two years, GoDaddy has released Gender Diversity & Salary Data. GoDaddy is near overall salary parity, with incremental progress from 2015 to 2016 but much more work to do. The new salary data shows women, in technical ranks, and overall, make a penny more than men, but men in more senior leadership roles make about two cents more on the dollar than their female counterparts.
Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff shared in his keynote that his company had to make a $3 million adjustment because they were paying women less than men.
— Tara Wellington (@TaraMacMiller) October 21, 2016
2016 Grace Hopper Celebration: Lessons that broke through the noise
One of the great parts about sitting in a room with 15,000 women technologists and top executives is there are endless opportunities to learn. No matter what position you hold in a company, or how many years of experience you have, we all became a little bit smarter. Here are some things we learned.
GoDaddy HR Strategist Katee Van Horn shared a meaningful quote from Google Vice President of Engineering Anna Patterson. While accepting an award, Anna called out the many obstacles women have overcome, including getting the right to vote and how we can influence the future of the tech industry:
“You are supported by the millions of women around you and the many that have come before you” Anna Patterson #GHC16
— Katee Van Horn (@Kateebar7) October 19, 2016
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving shared some poignant advice from IBM CEO Ginni Rometty:
-No one can define you
-Growth and comfort don’t co exist
-Work on something bigger than yourself
— Blake Irving (@Blakei) October 19, 2016
Maura Church, data science manager at Patreon, shared an empowering quote from Megan Smith highlighting that we might not have created the gender gap, but we can do something to fix it:
— Maura C (@outoftheverse) October 21, 2016
The biggest thing I learned from this conference is that there are some kick-ass women in tech and some pretty incredible male allies. Equalizing the workplace for both genders is easier said than done, but the people at this conference aren’t sitting idle — they’re speaking up and stepping up to make change.
For more key stories and lessons learned from the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, check out #GHC16 or some of our favorites here.