15,000 women gather for tech conference in Houston

When you think of the technology world, men are most likely who you picture running things. But a big conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center is turning the tables.

HOUSTON- When you think of the technology world, men are most likely who you picture running things. But a big conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center is turning the tables.

Nearly 15,000 women gathered in Houston for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, one of the largest conferences of its kind. 

It's a go-to event for women working in the male-dominated field of technology and is the largest gathering of women technologists in the world.

"I'm not looking for a job. I'm trying to like expand my network," said Lainie Wright, senior at Purdue University.

She's a computer science major and already has a job lined up for when she graduates.

"I think it's awesome," Wright said. "I've never been with so many women in tech because it's mostly dominated by men."

There were also those in attendance who are already in the field, like Ganga Devadas, who works at Cisco Systems in San Jose.

She said she was here to feel empowered, get to know other women and realize the field isn't just full of men.

"Years ago there were so many barriers to entry for women and now that's no longer the case," said Devadas.

When this convention started in 1994, there were only 500 attendees. This year, nearly 50 hotels are being used to hold attendees.

"The conference has really grown exponentially over the last three years," said Elizabeth Ames, senior vice president of the Anita Borg Institute, whose primary aim is to recruit, retain and advance women in technology.

"I think people have a stereotype in our head of what technology people look like."

The stereotype might not be Alyssia Jovellanos, who's a sophomore at McMaster University in Toronto. She's studying computer science.

She's the Borg Institute's student of vision winner and this is the first time she's attended the conference.

"My goal is just to meet fantastic people," Jovellanos said. "There's a huge lack of women in tech organizations which means that there's 50 percent of the population of people using the products that aren't represented in work force."

Though she doesn't know for sure who she wants to work for when she graduates, tech is the field for this woman, like it seems to be for the thousands of women roaming these halls.

When the conference first began it was every three years; now it's every year with attendees from 83 different countries.
 

(© 2016 KHOU)


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