Georgia Tech Celebrates Diversity in Computing at Grace Hopper '15 Conference

ATLANTA, Sept. 29, 2015—Students from the Georgia Institute of Technology online master of science in computer science (OMS CS) degree program will meet face-to-face for the first time at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) conference as Georgia Tech continues to remove barriers that traditionally separate online students from a complete higher education experience.

Twenty scholars from Georgia Tech’s OMS CS program will receive scholarships to attend GHC—the largest gathering of women in computing in the world, according to conference organizer, the Anita Borg Institute. By bringing online students to a highly regarded research conference, students will be able to network with on-campus classmates, research faculty, and thought-leaders in technology. They join 40 other students from Georgia Tech’s on-campus College of Computing, two of whom will present research.

“Women are approaching 20 percent of all students enrolled in computing degrees at Georgia Tech, and they are changing how technology transforms our lives,” says Zvi Galil, the John P. Imlay Dean of the Georgia Tech College of Computing. “Our female students show a keen interest in computing research with a sociological focus, such as how data mining can improve sustainable agriculture, robotics in the home, interactive classroom instruction, and the future impact of technology for neglected populations. Women are changing what’s next for a field that has been long defined by processors and hardware prototypes.”

Women represent 13 percent of enrollment in the OMS CS program and currently represent nearly 18 percent across all degree programs at the College of Computing.

“More women in technology is critical because wherever we are absent or silent, others make decisions on our behalf,” says Annie Antón, chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and alumna. “If women continue to be under-represented, we will continue to see technical and design decisions made by men based upon their experiences—which can be wholly different from those of women. We’re seeing this now across wearable tech and also why or when we mine big data.”

GHC is expected to draw 12,000 attendees to Houston, Texas, from October 14-16, 2015. The Georgia Tech scholars say they are looking forward to attending GHC for a variety of reasons.

“Women have so much to offer and are fully capable of becoming technology experts,” says Cheryl Miller, OMS CS student and an AT&T principal technical architect from St. Louis, Mo., whose father encouraged her to pursue computer science more than 30 years ago. “Unfortunately, many girls are directed away from STEM careers due to many factors—subtle societal attitudes being primary among them. We need to encourage them and be role models, to show girls that women can and are as successful in this career choice as men are.”

Says student Bobbie Eicher: “It doesn't make sense to ignore available talent that could be helping to solve serious problems. When important medical equipment has no security, huge numbers of records are stolen, and expensive vehicles can be reduced to remote control toys over the Internet, it's a clear sign that we need more people [in technology] who care deeply about taking whatever they're doing and making sure that it's as good as it can be.” Eicher will travel from Pittsburgh, Penn., and co-founded the Nerdy Bones Google+ community for the female students in Georgia Tech’s OMS CS program.

Among those attending GHC with Georgia Tech will be two Ph.D. students presenting the following research:

  • Ana Consuelo Huamán Quispe (Ph.D. candidate, Robotics) regarding grasping, manipulation and benchmark tasks for robots in domestic environments.
  • Brianna Tomlinson (Ph.D. candidate, Human-Centered Computing) regarding barriers to computer training for the blind and outcomes of such work in Kenya.

The 20 scholars will receive paid conference registration and hotel accommodations, courtesy of Georgia Tech. The students will attend GHC from as far away as India. Students also will participate in special networking events with other Georgia Tech students, faculty and alumni at GHC. They already are connecting via a Google+ community, designed to encourage pre-conference networking and camaraderie.

The College of Computing received 64 OMS CS scholarship applications and 20 were accepted. Attendees were selected on the basis of academic standing, quality of academic work, community involvement, and quality of their scholarship application essay.

Read more about the Georgia Tech scholars.

About Georgia Tech’s College of Computing

The Georgia Tech College of Computing is a national leader in the creation of real-world computing breakthroughs that drive social and scientific progress. With its graduate program ranked 9th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, the College’s unconventional approach to education is expanding the horizons of traditional computer science students through interdisciplinary collaboration and a focus on human-centered solutions. For more information about the Georgia Tech College of Computing, its academic divisions and research centers, please visit www.cc.gatech.edu. Follow the Georgia Tech College of Computing on Twitter at @gtcomputing and become a fan at www.facebook.com/gtcomputing.