Best of Systers

GHC 2014: A Different Perspective

by Rose Robinson, Her Systers’ Keeper

I have to say that this GHC was incredible, full of controversy and excitement. And I am plum tired. J I’m still recouping but just wanted to give everyone my perspective and address some of the discussions that have happened last week.

GoDaddy & ABI partnership

We announced the GoDaddy & ABI partnership back in April (?) and there was a lot of backlash against the institute about the partnership which really surprised me. Growing up in the south, in the heart of much change of this country like the civil rights movement, I’m part of a long line of family that if someone said this is how we’re going to create change, we jump on it. I for one when I found out that we signed partnership, I clapped my hands and said, “Alright, what are we doing?” Getting in there with companies that have had reputations that are not so favorable for women and we were going create this change?  We all know how GoDaddy portrayed women in the past so was really excited we were about to help change all of that. I had a different view of ABI’s involvement. How did everyone see GoDaddy changing? Or did we think they ever were going to change?  All of the tech companies have a lot of work to do. I’m all in and ready for the work.

Male Ally panel

I did receive emails about this being invitational only and asked if I could advocate for them so they can get in. I believe there was a session to follow with men who attended afterwards. We did give feedback to the executive and we addressed it at the conference and on social. I’m glad there was another opportunity the next day for a listening session. Realizing the format caused so much commotion, Alan Eustace organized a new session the next day where it was mostly listening. The #ghcmanwatch was interesting, some good some bad, but the conversation is happening. With 3 days of the conference, we certainly didn’t want this to be about the men, but it was a teachable moment for everyone who was engaged in the conversation. It got pretty nasty at times on social, but for the most part, it was good. I encourage everyone not to just stop, but continue. We’re not going to have change if discussions only happen at a conference.

Black Women in Computing Gaming Workshop

We reached out to Esther Schindler, a Syster local to Phoenix, and she reached out to her Desert Divas (as they call themselves) and one by one, each asked what we needed; facility, equipment, volunteers, etc. One of the Desert Divas, a GoDaddy technical director, graciously included their women in technology group in the conversation. Next thing you know, we have facility, desktop computers, volunteers and provided meals for the kids.

You can read more about the event on our portal site >> here.

change

Change

I mentioned our BWiC workshop because we as a community and other underrepresented groups have an additional challenge in our lives. We work to do what we can to help each other and the next generation in our communities. We appreciate that GoDaddy stepped up along with Intel and Arizona Community Foundation and supported our efforts to bring small change into Arizona community.

Someone pointed out to me quickly at the conference about a Bingo card, which was very creative by the way, and I only quickly remembered one of the blocks referencing Dr. King. When it comes to change, yes he is the first person people think of that represents significant change in this country. But no one ever mentions Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson or Dorothy Pitman Hughes who were many Black women leaders that were very integral in the civil rights movement.  I am a woman in computing but also a black woman in computing, I know I can’t stop at #genderequality, I have to continue the fight until we have #racialequality too. I have often in the past been asked what do I identify with “first”? I don’t have that luxury of separating the two nor do most underrepresented women in computing (UWiC). If it wasn’t for those like Dr. King, Grace Hopper, Anita Borg and others, who fought and sacrificed their time and even their lives, would I even be part of Systers? Let alone Her Systers’ Keeper?

Going back to the GoDaddy and ABI partnership, I had a chance to speak to some of the women who work at GoDaddy and they are steadfast in their company as many women are. Everyone has different experiences throughout their lives with people, organizations and situations. I respect that because that is how we learn and it helps us approach different situations in our lives.

What if?

We/ABI have accomplished a lot with this year’s conference and definitely lots to improve on. We invited everyone into those difficult conversations and hope it continues. GHC is 3 days, but we do this work every day. I am often tired at the end of my day and I know it is because I believe in this mission and I am passionate about creating change.

My mom has Alzheimer’s and it is the most difficult thing right now I face as I watch her frustrations when she can’t remember the simplest things. It’s painful and I’m learning to support her and I’m learning more about myself as well. She said the other day, “if at some point I don’t remember you, just know I love you.” Challenges will come in various ways and it is not how we get through those but how we address them that is important. I am honored to be a part of Systers community and respect all of my Systers opinions. We come from all over the globe, we share our experiences, our opinions and our thoughts as they are all different.

There are many that came before us that paved the way. What if Anita never met any of the women at the SOSP conference she was attending and Systers was never created? Or she and Telle never had that lunch and decided to have GHC? What if Robin Jeffries never agreed to take the role of Her Systers’ Keeper when Anita was sick and the list just cease to exist? Think about that as we move forward. This work is hard but necessary and I’m in it for the long haul. I hope you are too.

Celebration

In all the hoopla, I wanted to express the wonderful things that happened at GHC. Many of the communities had a record number of turnout even our new ones. LGBT is busting at the seams, so is Black Women in Computing, Latinas in Computing as their receptions were beautifully packed, Arab Women in Computing had a reception for the first time and wonderfully attended, Turkish Women in Computing were engaging and Asian Women in Computing had their meetup for the first time and so many came out.  It was wonderful to see members turnout and support each other. Sponsors supported a lot of our community events and some that were fabulous with self-organizing. I talked to a lot of women who was at GHC for the first time. Amazing! And to the Systers where we were rockin’ the chair dancing, you know who you are, I’ll share photos.

My favorite, was seeing so many Systers at the conference and really missed those that I didn’t get a chance to see but knew they were there.  Systers lunch was  sponsored by Facebook this year and we heard from Kristin Yvonne Rozier about her journey and how Systers helped along the way and still continue to do so.  ABI Community Meetup at the end of the day on Friday bringing all of the communities together. I was happy and honored that I was able to recognize our community leaders this year. And a huge thank you to our Systers Advisory council members who were there. They are the mothers of community leaders. Naydne Richmond, Neetu Jain, both chairs and Laura Downey committee members. So many of our leaders we owe so much gratitude for keeping our initiatives going so that we can help so many women around the world. Stay tuned for 2015 as we have big plans!

I received so many new ideas and feedback for next year, programs, and community. This is what I love about GHC, it’s the networking, collaboration and Systerhood.

Finally, join us Friday, 17 October 2014 1900 UTC/2pm Eastern/11am Pacific, for a Live Twitter chat #GHCSHEROES. GHC is a celebration for women in computing and the GHC Community committee and volunteers will be highlighting their sessions they covered.

I hope everyone’s experience at GHC was wonderful. Look forward to seeing everyone in Houston next year. :-)

 

In Systerhood