Isabel Shiff '21 - Grace Hopper Celebration 2018

Isabel Shiff '21 - Grace Hopper Celebration 2018

My freshman year self signed up for the Duke Computer Science Department to try and purchase an entrance ticket on my behalf, so that I could attend the Grace Hopper Celebration: a conference that includes workshops, speakers and a career fair for around 20,000 women in tech. That is right, 20,000 women. I was very lucky, and the CS Department was able to buy me a ticket to attend GHC 2018.

My sophomore year self boarded a flight to Houston and checked herself into a hotel room that would soon be the site of hours of resume reviews and HireVue interviews, something that was only a mere screening test to see if one will receive a phone or in-person interview. The following day, I nervously waited outside the career fair which hosted over 300 companies ready to interview and hire conference attendees right on the spot.

My junior year self reflects on the conference for being the time where I was able to be in an environment that empowers women and minorities in the tech industry. That being said, my junior year self also abruptly left campus because of a global pandemic. Upon leaving campus, I immediately began to think that GHC 2020, a conference that is only growing in size, can by no means go on as usual this year. If most states do not allow groups of over 10 today, how a conference hall filled with over 20,000 women be legal in only a few months?

 My (rising) senior year self knows that I will likely not be able to attend anything with similar magnitude as that of Grace Hopper (in person) in the near future. In fact, the conference is being held online in Fall 2020. Although I am sure that the organizers of GHC 2020 are doing the best they can to maintain high levels of interaction in the virtual conference this year, I fear that it will not be the same.