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Penny Herscher Headshot

Women Computer Scientists -- Yes, They Exist!

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Women are doing some amazing work in Computer Science and Engineering, how come we don't know about them? We all know the about the stereotypical hot start-up out of Silicon Valley led by some twenty-something white guy but we don't hear much about women entrepreneurs, computer scientists, researchers and business leaders in tech. How come?

Is it like the research study recently reported in the New York Times where a scientifically oriented resume with a women's name at the top was consistently rated lower by professors than the exact same resume with a man's name? Do women have to be substantially better than men to get recognized?

Maybe today, but the 7th Annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), going on this week, is all about changing that.

Downtown Baltimore is teeming with technical women today. Three thousand, six hundred of them! More than 1,500 are students, passionate about developing new technology, and not afraid to say so just because they are girls.

And here at the conference they are surrounded by other technical women who don't fit the tech frat boy stereotype that Silicon Valley is so known for, but who instead just set about changing the world of technology from a diverse point of view.

Consider Lilli Cheng who is GM of the Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs in Microsoft Research. She leads a team who invent, develop and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work, and she speaking on Creativity, Learning and Social Software.

Or Lori Beer who is the EVP for Enterprise Business Services at WellPoint and manages over 30,000 people developing new health care products for you and me, and is speaking today on Transforming Health care Through Data.

Or Ann Mei Chang who is a Senior Advisor on technology at the State Department and has the Silicon Valley engineering who's who on her resume, including being a Senior Engineering Director at Google. She's speaking on Leveraging Mobile and Internet Technology to Improve Women's Lives in the Developing World.

Or Nora Denzel, who was both funny and wise in her keynote today, and has led large, cutting edge software and business teams at IBM, HP and Intuit, and can go nose to nose with anyone on technology.

Imagine 3,600 confident girly geeks together, mingling with each other as students and mentors, inventors and developers, investors and founders. Women working together to change the ratio of women in technology by recruiting new young women into the field and helping them stay in the field, despite the odds. Less than 25 percent of the STEM workforce in the U.S. are women, more than 50 percent of women who start in engineering drop out of technology in the first 10 years of their careers, the numbers of women graduating in computer science has been dropping over the last 10 years, and yet by 2020 the U.S. will graduate less than 30 percent of the engineers we need to be competitive.

It just makes sense to get more girls into technology. It's an incredibly exciting field and women make great computer scientists. Thousands of them are at GHC in Baltimore today. Join us and change the world!

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a program of the Anita Board Institute, which is funded by the world's best technology companies to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and develop women leaders in high-tech fields, resulting in higher levels of technological innovation. You can learn more at www.anitaborg.org.

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