Women of Netreo at GHC 2022

What is the Grace Hopper Celebration and why it is important for the Women of Netreo

By Andrea Delgado-Olson, Customer Success Manager; Amanda Allen, Developer Support Engineer; Maranda Williams, Product Manager; and Genevieve Cheatham, Support Engineer

The annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), put on by AnitaB.org, is known for being the world’s largest conference women in tech. Created in 1994 and inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the AnitaB.org flagship event brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney, the Grace Hopper Celebration inspires, ignites and engages women technologists and provides a connection to community support from likeminded women and nonbinary technologist. The event includes professional development workshops and networking opportunities that unite women technologists from around the globe.

This year was no different! GHC returned to an in-person event for the first time since 2019 with the theme, Next is Now. More than 15,000 attendees, mostly women technologists from around the world, filled the Orange County Convention Center and neighboring hotels from September 20-23 in Orlando, Florida. Each venue was buzzing with the excitement of thousands of women and nonbinary tech professionals being back in person. It is a sight and emotion you can only experience at GHC!

The Women of Netreo pictured left to right: Amanda Allen, Developer Support Engineer; Andrea Delgado-Olson, Customer Success Manager; Megan Amos, VP, Developer Experience/GM, APM; Genevieve Cheatham, Support Engineer; and Maranda Williams, Product Manager

Perspectives from Netreo’s Women in Tech

For Netreo, I had the pleasure and honor of experiencing this outstanding event with four fellow team members. While some had been to the event before, it was the first opportunity this group had been together. I thank each of them for sharing their thoughts with all of us, and I expect the experience and contacts they made will shape their lives and careers forever.

Andrea Delgado-Olson, Customer Success Manager

First of all, attending GHC with a team of Women of Netreo was a great team building experience! For four of us, this was our first time meeting one another in person. While the event took center stage, the simple time we spent together – morning coffee, driving to the conference, planning our sessions together and lounging around at the end of each day – was amazing and allowed us to bond even further as a team. I will be forever grateful for the time we got to spend together and the friendships we made.

The Women of Netreo enjoy Team Building at GHC 2022!

My first time attending GHC was in 2014. I was at Mills College completing my Bachelor’s in Education and beginning my Master’s in Interdisciplinary Computer Science. There were 8,000 attendees that year, and I had my AHA! moment when I fell in love with the energy, community and technology I learned from amazing presenters and community members.

After learning about the AnitaB.org communities at GHC, I founded an Affinity Group for Native American Women in Computing. Through my efforts, I was offered a full-time position at AnitaB.org. It was in this role that I met Megan Amos and began working with my current boss. Megan and I became good friends and have worked together since 2018. I’ve attended every GHC since 2014 as an employee, but this year I got to be an attendee again! 

This Year’s Event

As soon as we entered the event, it was obvious this was going to be an exciting and inspiring experience. The first day was typical of most any conference. We gathered swag, while exploring the Expo Hall and checking out exhibitors. Among the booths, we recognized several of our very own Netreo customers in attendance. It was refreshing to see their support of women and non-binary technologists by recruiting attendees from GHC. Thank you to our customer for these efforts! We see you and appreciate you!

In the days to come, our team split up to attend the varying sessions that interested us most. Sessions described amazing talks and presentations that made it hard to decide which to attend! We’d meet during breaks, discuss the sessions we attended and share our experiences with one another. While the days were long and the agenda jam packed, everything was inspiring, from the keynotes to the featured speakers. I especially enjoyed the session: Breonna’s Garden – Mindfulness and the Metaverse by Lady PheOnix.

Enough about my experience, I was elated to share this opportunity with my colleagues here at Netreo! For Amanda, Gennie and Maranda, this was their first time attending GHC! Read on to check out more about their experiences.

Amanda Allen, Developer Support Engineer

I pivoted into web development rather recently in my career and never thought I would be able to go to something like GHC. Upon arrival, the conference hall was buzzing with women from all over the world. I felt proud to be there along with my four other coworkers, beaming with excitement and not really knowing what to expect. The expo hall had big names seeking new talent, like Google, Disney and Apple just to name a few. I had never known engineers that worked at those companies, let alone female engineers. The entire room was electric.

As I moved from booth to booth, I quickly realized the draw to an event like this. Everyone was kind, eager to know you, and conversations were both candid and professional. Every booth had women and men waiting to take resumes, and popular booths even had mailbox slots! Company reps informed each potential employee of the perks and culture, available roles and what the day-to-day life was like. There definitely were stronger pitches, but those were mostly done by the job seekers sprawling the expo floor.

Personally, this is the kind of event I like. Quick interactions with many people. I gathered as much information as I could and Connected on my LinkedIn app more times than I can count. Every evening, I retreated to my room and reviewed all the materials from the day’s interactions. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

Sessions and Inspiration

Each day, the most popular sessions, workshops and lectures were flooded with hundreds of women attempting to enter. I learned the first day I had to arrive at least 45 minutes in advance, just to get a seat! Each break out session I attended allowed me to connect with different women across multiple disciplines: data engineers, software engineers, PM’s, Directors, Scrum Masters, VP’s of multiple vertices, backend programmers, etc.The list goes on and on.

The most important thing I took away from GHC is the inspiration to pursue a career without it being taboo. Being a woman and mother, while also pursuing a career in technology, can be exhausting. It makes you feel as though you are only welcomed in the club because you are a minority, rather than your abilities. I met professionals who didn’t make being a woman the only thing they offered. They were high-performing, skilled professionals, who happened to be women and mothers. The strength in not feeling novel freed something in me and inspired me to embrace my femininity and motherhood. As I grow in my career, being a woman and a mother is just a part of my identity – an absolutely wonderful part of my identity, but not me entirely

Maranda Williams, Product Manager

I entered the technology space from an untraditional background. My undergraduate degree is in Art History. I attended a small university in western Colorado where art education is a small niche dominated mostly by men. So, being the only female in the room isn’t something new to me.

When I transitioned into tech, I went through a program that taught me how to be a full stack application developer. Doing projects in C# enabled me to iteratively increase my skills with each new project and each new requirement. I absolutely love how much good could come out of being able to create applications that change peoples lives for the better, as well as improve little things in day-to-day life. I also had an amazing female instructor who inspires me as a teacher, mentor and friend to this day. That being said, it can be difficult being a woman in tech and not having a formal computer science degree or background. Impostor Syndrome is something that I battle constantly.

Being at the Grace Hopper Celebration 2022 with my fellow coworkers was a breath of fresh air. I got to meet a few of them in person for the first time and really connect on a personal level in a way Zoom meetings can’t achieve. I met plenty of other women at GHC with untraditional backgrounds, who successfully broke into the technology industry. A plethora of women with traditional tech backgrounds also attended and were completely supportive and uplifting to those of us who took a different path. 

GHC 2022 Takeaways

This was my first time attending GHC. My biggest takeaways are I am not alone, and I am completely capable of holding my own in this industry. After working from home since the covid shutdown in 2020, being among 15,000 women in tech was a bit shocking. However, there was a shockwave of positive vibes from being surrounded by so many inspiring people with their own stories ready to be shared. There were many sessions available to learn from leaders in the industry. Plus, it was truly empowering to be among a large expo providing endless networking opportunities. 

I focused on attending Product Management sessions at GHC, so I could learn from other women in the industry. I wanted to hear their take on Product Management, see how others approach the never ending cycle of product development, and meet other women with the same ambitions. The sessions I attended taught me a lot about myself – mainly that I do know what I am doing as a Product Manager! GHC created an invaluable experience for me in an environment that only an event like this can provide. I felt validated that I can teach others and pass on my knowledge, even though I have only held this position for a little over a year. 

I am grateful for being able to attend and experience such an amazing convention like GHC. Looking forward, I’m excited to put my insights and learnings into action, influencing the company as a whole and inspiring my female counterparts, as we continue to work on improving our products, our company and our work environment.

Gennie Cheatham, Customer Support Engineer

There have been so many times since the start of my career where I felt like I did not belong. Since receiving my Bachelor’s in Computer Science, I have first-hand experiences of what women in tech have experienced for years. Imposter syndrome, lack of mentors and the overall struggle to feel like I belong in tech were felt daily. The Grace Hopper Convention was a huge step in showing me that I am not alone in this struggle. Walking into the Orange County Convention Center, I was surrounded by 15,000 women in tech. The feeling was so meaningful, I will never forget it, though I can express it in words.

Being part of a company that values putting women in touch with other women in tech is awesome! I was free to be my nerdy self for an entire week at a convention full of like-minded professionals. From talking about cloud storage to the gender wage gap and even taking apart a hard drive, I felt fully at ease to learn and grow without judgment. I made amazing connections professionally and personally that I know will continue to grow throughout my career. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with my incredibly intelligent and kind coworkers, too.

The History of the Grace Hopper Celebration

AnitaB.org co-presents GHC with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). To honor Grace Hopper’s legacy and inspire future generations of women in tech, Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney founded Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in 1994. The AnitaB.org flagship event brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront, and highlights the contributions of women to the tech world. More about the Grace Hopper Celebration

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper

An important and influential pioneer in the history of tech, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was one of the first women to receive a doctorate degree in mathematics. Her expertise allowed her to join the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II to work on the Mark I computer. After the war, she remained in the U.S. Navy as a reserve officer, working with the more advanced Mark II and Mark III computers.

Grace also helped create the first compiler for computer languages and was the first female recipient of the National Medal of Technology in 1991. In 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her many contributions to the field of computing.

The History of AnitaB.org

In 1987, Dr. Anita Borg, Dr. Telle Whitney and 12 other women technologists founded Systers, an email list for women working together in Systems. 

In 1997, Anita founded the nonprofit organization originally known as the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT), on the Xerox PARC campus. The aim of IWT was to increase the representation of women in technical fields, enable the creation of more technology by women, build the pipeline of technical women and ensure that women’s voices played a role in shaping the future of technology.

In 2002, Anita was diagnosed with cancer, and she asked her close friend Telle to step in as interim CEO of IWT. Following Anita’s death in 2003, IWT was renamed the Anita Borg Institute in her honor. With the blessing of the Board of Trustees, Telle then assumed the permanent role of President and CEO, a title that she held until her retirement in 2017. More about AnitaB.org


Dr. Anita Borg & Women in Tech

Dr. Anita Borg was an American computer scientist who founded the Institute for Women and Technology, an experimental research and development organization. The institute focuses on increasing the impact of women in technology and the positive impact of technology on the world’s women. At the institute, technologists, social scientists and community members work together to create technologies based on women’s needs, situations and geniuses.

Anita also co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a successful technical computer science conference inspired by the legacy of Navy Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. The Grace Hopper Foundation features successful women in computing.

Dr. Telle Whitney

Over the course of her leadership, Telle led the institute to substantial growth in both size and impact. Under her care, the Grace Hopper Celebration grew into the world’s most influential conference for women technologists, drawing just 630 attendees in 2002, but more than 22,000 in 2018.

During her 15 years at the helm, Telle grew the organization’s revenues from $1M annually to more than $22M. She worked with staff, volunteers, and the AnitaB.org Board of Trustees to create and develop high impact programs that include Top Companies for Women Technologists, a national program that recognizes companies committed to building workplaces where women technologists can thrive, as well as the AnitaB.org Local communities — a growing network of regional groups of women technologists and their allies. And, perhaps most importantly, Telle has been committed to demonstrating the business value of diversity and the importance of engaging the full talent of the workforce in order to drive innovation.

Brenda Darden Wilkerson

On October 1, 2017, Brenda Darden Wilkerson became the new President and CEO of AnitaB.org.

Before joining AnitaB.org, Brenda was Director of Computer Science and IT Education for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). At CPS, Brenda founded the original “Computer Science for All” initiative, building computer science classes into the curriculum for every student. That program has touched the lives of more than 1.5 million students in Chicago and New York City, and attracted the attention of the Obama administration, which modeled some of its work on the Chicago initiative. More about Brenda.

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