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Leadership, vision, and energy at world's largest gathering of women technologists

I’m always surprised when I talk to people who haven’t heard of Grace Hopper or the incredible conference she inspired. In fact, many people think I’m saying the “grasshopper” conference — so let’s start with an introduction to this amazing woman.

Grace Hopper was a United States Navy rear admiral and computer programming pioneer. I first learned about Grace from her appearance on the David Letterman show, where she gave Dave a “nanosecond” — a piece of wire representing the distance an electrical signal travels in one billionth of a second.

At the end of her naval career, Grace was the oldest admiral still on active duty. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and her work on compiler technology led to the creation of COBOL. As you can see in the Letterman clip, Grace was engaging, funny, and inspiring … which leads us to the amazing conference created in her honor.

Celebrating women in technology

The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. I’ve been privileged to attend the conference each of the past three years, and it has grown from 15,000 attendees in 2016 to 25,000 this year. It typically sells out within fifteen minutes of registration opening and truly earns the name “celebration” — the energy of the women who attend is joyful, hopeful, and confident. Looking around the Houston arena last year, you really had to wonder how anyone can claim we have a pipeline issue for women in tech.

Grace Hopper Celebration

The conference is organized by, which started in 1987 as a digital community supporting women in computing. It’s now the leading organization for women in technology, offering online community and research that tracks the top companies for advancing women.

Recognizing IBM’s leadership

A key part of research is tracking the progress of technology companies toward full equity. IBM has shared their data for this research for many years, and in 2017 won the inaugural Top Companies for Women Technologists Momentum Award; we achieved the same honor again in 2018.

This year, I’m thrilled to announce that IBM has been named to the 2019 Top Companies Leaders list. This is a significant honor, one that recognizes “a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that women look for in an employer.”

As Chief of Staff for a large IBM organization, I see first-hand our commitment to advancing women as a business imperative — in fact the IBM Institute for Business Value just released our own study on women, leadership and the priority paradox. And in 2019, IBM donated $1 for every shareholder account exercising their ballot during the Annual Shareholder proxy vote to, resulting in more than 60 women of color being able to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration via scholarship.

IBM is also one of four funding organizations for BRAIDBuilding, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity — an initiative that helps create more inclusive undergraduate computing departments by increasing the representation of women and underrepresented minorities. Co-led by and Harvey Mudd College, BRAID was launched in September 2014 in partnership with 15 universities across the United States.

IBM continues to be a proud sponsor and industry partner with I’ll be heading to Orlando for this year’s conference October 1-4, along with over a hundred of my colleagues. We will be leading sessions on technology and career development, and recruiting our next generation of leaders at the recruitment booth. We’d love to see you there!

This year’s agenda

This year’s conference provides tracks ranging from technology, open source, and products A to Z, to career and organizational transformation. The IBM Research organization partnered with to create a new Emerging Technologies track that includes sessions on blockchain and quantum computing. In addition, we have sessions on machine learning, artificial intelligence, design and culture, and a career session on returnships. Sign up in advance as these sessions will fill up quickly.

IBM sessions at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration

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We’re recruiting

If this is your first Grace Hopper conference, be prepared for the largest, most competitive career fair of your life! Our main focus in the IBM recruiting booth #957 at the Career Expo is to meet with top talent and recruit our next generation of leaders. But there’s more magic happening: when you stop by our booth, you can learn how to program a quantum computer and score the chance to join us at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Help us celebrate the launch of the Emerging Technologies track by discovering that quantum computing isn’t magic — but it is exciting.

We encourage you to pre-register in our system. Learn about our internships, co-op and full-time opportunities, and our IBM Tech Re-Entry Program.

IBM team at the Grace Hopper Celebration

Work with us and change the world

As a proud IBMer with over 30 years under my belt, I can vouch for the variety and range of experiences that IBM offers. I’ve been inspired by women leaders like Lisa Seacat Deluca, our most prolific inventor, and Chieko Asakawa, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame this year for her voice browser for visually-impaired users.

Come meet the IBM team at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration

I’ve also been involved in “code for good” projects like Call for Code, our competition to use technology to prepare for and recover from natural disasters. We’ve partnered with the IBM Corporate Service Corps to deploy the winning solutions through our Code and Response program. Additionally, IBMers around the globe are applying their skills to help solve problems such as human trafficking and the refugee crisis.

Another hot topic for last year’s conference was the need for diversity in training AI models. IBM created the AI Fairness 360 open source project to detect and remove bias in machine learning models, and we also started the Women Leaders in AI program to honor women across industries and geographies for their pioneering efforts in this field.

Hear more from our CEO, Ginni Rometty, on the importance of purpose-driven work:

To find out more about how IBM is supporting both women and diversity in technology, visit IBM Diversity & Inclusion and our Inclusion career blog.

Finally, I urge you to use the Grace Hopper Celebration as a chance to reach out and extend your network. Last year I met Megan Smith, CTO for the Obama administration, literally at the water cooler. And she gave me her card! I hope you’ll connect with me on LinkedIn, or Twitter, or at the water cooler — I’d love to meet you and hear your story.

Work for an award-winning company

  • In 2019, IBM is named by as a member of the Top Companies List, recognizing companies that “point the way to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future.”
  • IBM earns a spot on Working Mother’s Best Companies for Multicultural Women list for 17th straight year, as well as the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women list, the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index, and the Best Companies for Dads list.
  • IBM was Named a 2018 Catalyst Award winner for our leadership in advancing women in business.
  • In 2019, IBM rolled out our #BeEqual campaign.
  • On Mogul Top Companies, IBM was recognized as one of the 2019 Top 100 Companies in Tech for Millennial Women, 2017 Top 100 Innovators in Diversity and Inclusion, and 2018 Top 1000 Companies Worldwide with the Strongest Female Leaders.

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