Students Head to Houston for Conference on Women in Tech

More than 30 Harvard students plan to travel this week to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women In Computing in Houston, Texas, to hear lectures, attend panels, and network with experts on the subject of how gender can affect work in computer science.

Speakers will include Sheryl K. Sandberg ’91, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” and YouTube CEO Susan D. Wojcicki ’90, among other high-powered women in the technology sector. Students will hear about topics ranging from artificial intelligence to internet-enabled tools over the course of the conference, which will run from Wednesday through Friday.

Lisa G. Chille ’18, who will attend the conference with the Harvard group, said, “I want to be in a place surrounded by other women who are interested in technology, which is not something you encounter every day here at Harvard.”

Chille is traveling to the conference on a scholarship provided by the Grace Hopper Celebration organizers, which includes travel, accommodations, and meals. Others’ travel is covered by the student organization Women in Computer Science. Ramya Rangan ’16 said she is attending on a scholarship provided by WICS sponsor CapitalOne.

Rangan, said that she attended last year’s conference to conduct job interviews and visit the career fair. This year, she said, “I’m excited to spend time with other women in tech from campus.”


Peter L. Ku ’16 said he will be the first male Harvard student to attend the Grace Hopper conference.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of doors open to me, and I feel pretty strongly that I want everyone to have these doors open to them,” he said.

“There are a lot of things that are really deeply ingrained in our society that make it difficult for women to go into CS,” he said. “I think it’s really important for people of all genders and all backgrounds to be a part of this conversation.”

Some students expressed apprehension about missing classes for the conference this week. “It’s difficult because the conference is during weekdays, so we are essentially taking a whole week off for it, and it also happens to be right during midterms,” said WICS co-president Hana C. Kim ’17.

Nevertheless, students said they expected the conference to have a positive effect on their schoolwork. “I think you come away with so much enthusiasm for your academics when you come back,” Kim said.