My Grace Hopper Experience: Thursday #ghc14

Continuing from my previous blog, day 2: day 3 will be a further post.

Thursday morning brought a guest speech from Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer to the US. Being UK based I didn’t really know much about her, nor did I even know countries had CTOs…so…learned something that day. She seemed like a very humble and inspirational lady as were many of the people at GHC. Not really much else I have to say on that…

Following this the keynote from Satya Nadella: whilst this was a huge thing in itself, being the first male to keynote at Grace Hopper, one answer made the story a huge controversy all over the internet, and much of what he said here got a little twisted.
The keynote was a chat with him and Maria Kawe, director/president of Harvey Mudd College. One of the many questions was “what would you say to a woman who is too scared to negotiate her pay?”. For anyone not aware of this problem, there’s quite a big pay gap between men and women, (i”‘ll look up figures and references in a minute) and most think this is due to women’s under confidence at negotiating their initial pay, and asking for raises.

To this Satya said something along the lines of “perhaps this is a good thing: if you don’t negotiate, karma will come back and help you eventually” (paraphrasing). Online the media went crazy and this has been posed as his first gaffe as CEO…to the point where fellow scholars posted things like “I hope he resigns”.

I found this a massive overreaction, and one which gives me cause for concern: we should all remember Satya coming to speak at GHC, and saying in an email to his employees that he was here to listen and learn, is a huge statement on his part that he is committed to supporting and changing the status quo of women being a minority.

Whilst the pay gap is a problem we struggle with which won’t get fixed by society or karma, reacting like he just killed Maria Klawe or something is not going to convince more ” male allies”, as the conference referred to them, to help the cause. So this really worried me. Maybe he needs to do more research before speaking, and some people will disagree adamantly with my view on this, but the reactions made me want to scream “leave Satya Nadella alone, okay!!!”

Following this:

– my first interview: I felt this went well, and generally after sitting feeling wracked with nerves beforehand I felt comfortable once the questions began.

– A wander round the career fair: the trouble with GHC is its hard not to get sucked into the career fair, because there’s so many stands to visit and people to talk to. I appreciated this opportunity a lot now because I’m graduating summer 2015, so for me having a lot of big name employers in a room was brilliant and let’s hope something comes back from them. You could however, spend 2.5 days in there and miss all the cool sessions really easily.

– my first visit to Hard Rock Cafe. Like. Ever: Lunch was with 2 execs from my sponsor, Nationwide Insurance who I’m very thankful to for everything, and the 3 other ladies they sponsored. We had a good chat and its nice to talk to two real women about work life balance and how they got where they are, and at the end of it we booked in an interview for that day.

– More career fairing. I wasn’t lying about it sucking me in!

– interview with nationwide as above, went pretty well.

– VMWare party
Whilst I don’t know an awful lot about VMware, the party was pretty awesome and here I met a couple of girls I got on really well with, who I then went for dinner with the next night. I also met a very nice lady from VMWare who sat chatting with us and gave me some advice on how to deal with people who have bad or sexist views and air them, loudly. (The tip was just say “excuse me?” Or “you don’t really believe that, do you?” Whether this works, we’ll find out!).
She also pushed me to think about what I want to do when I graduate which I’ve been asked so much in the last 6 months I’ve lost count. The deadline was a month for me to tell her exactly what I wanted. No idea if I’ll make that.

Following this I headed outside with the girls I’d met and bumped into Maria Klawe I mentioned earlier: we took a few photos and she again gave us some insight and inspiration for continuing, before heading home.
We moved on to the evening dance party, where I bumped into Anne-Marie Imafidon and her clan of Stemettes, which was nice: even after two days of being around another culture, receiving “oh you’re from England that’s so cool, how long was your flight?” 20 times a day was tiring.

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