GHC15: Boost the Voices and Profiles of Role Models


There are two parts to the post, the first is about why the press release for Men at GHC is good and the second is about how to keep the focus on the women even with this press release.

Why is it that I am ok and glad for the press release on the website that announces this years leading men speaking at GHC?

It is important and inspiring to see prominent men supporting women and serving as strong role models at their organizations across academia and industries.
– Telle Whitney

Any man and every man that want’s to be a <insert male advocate/ally term here> for women I support them and am happy and willing to help them improve their and our chances for true equality. They are role models for the rest of the men in industry to follow suit. This includes having a conversation that is not emotionally charged to answer their questions about how to be an advocate and also listening to them report back on their progress. This is an iterative process.

Every time a man who is working toward equality wants to stand up in front of 12,000 women and the world and tell us how they are improving the environment in which women live and work I want to hear them and I want to give constructive feed back.

I wrote this blog post two years ago and I still believe it is relevant to this day.


Switching gears a bit I want to discuss amplifying the voices of role models you meet at GHC to keep the focus on women.

The biggest reason I’m writing this post now is because while I’ve seen the other news releases made by I haven’t seen other people tweet about them unless in outrage. What about the scholarship honorees, Manuela Veloso and Clara Shih, Susan Wojcicki and Moira Forbes, Sheryl Sandberg and Megan Smith, this years ABIE Honorees and those from the past.

Have you taken the chance to look at the speaker list this year and the schedule to get excited and promote all of the inspiring women in tech? If the answer is no, then that’s what we should be doing. It is us, the community, who gets to decide the focus of the media around this conference. What we should be tweeting about is all of these amazing speakers regardless of their race, religion, identified gender, etc. If they inspire you then tweet about it, write about it, share it and discuss the future of women in our world!

And lastly please lets stop spreading ridiculous rumors as if they are facts. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is not the ONLY conference for women.

There are dozens world-wide. Here are the other 2 from the big 3, do a simple search on eventbrite to find even more local to your area:

IEEE WIE International Leadership Conference

SWE The World’s Largest for Women Engineers

What would help boost voices?

  • Let’s compile the demographics of the entire list of speakers, of the entire list of award winners and publish them
  • Highlight inspirational people making strides in the diversity space in tech
  • Promote the voices of change with facts
  • Nominate women in tech for the awards 
  • Encourage women to submit proposals at all the conferences you care about
  • Follow above inspirational people on twitter and listen to a diverse set of people

Why we need men at GHC

As the percentage of women in STEM fields fluctuates we have not yet reached 50%. In particular the number of women in positions of mentoring, sponsorship, and decision making roles are even lower than women entering these fields and so we have this many to one connection that becomes over stressed. We must be willing to train men and women how to mentor and sponsor women in tech, and as women we must be willing to utilize all of our resources including the amazing men we work with.Men as well as women have a role to play in increasing the numbers of women in tech. Why? Not because the have mothers, daughters, girlfriends, or friends that are girls in tech but because there should be equal numbers! Any situation with an inequality needs to be rectified, and we should not assume the only reason they would help is because a female is asking them to. One last introductory point and then we can get into some details. Sometimes our voices (women’s voices) can be lost in the noise, bogged down in media, and if we need help until we are equally heard, then we need help. These two points were well made in a recent podcast, though the main topic was about the psychology of persuasion, women in tech and the website that helps close the gender pay gap were also discussed.

While at GHC13 I’ve asked nearly every male I came in contact with about their experience at GHC. Time constraints limited me from asking a few but hopefully you will receive an email from me about this, and if you are a man reading this right now and attended this year or in years past please reach out to me, lets talk.

First thank you to every man who attended GHC13, I for one believe we need men to attend. There have been points made by a few women I spoke with that there must be some maximum percentage that would be best because just as some men aren’t comfortable discussing these issues with women in the room, some women aren’t comfortable speaking up with men in the room. I disagree, every male who wants to attend in support of women in computing, is willing to take part in the discussion and wants to understand the problems we face and how to overcome them should attend. Take a few minutes later to listen to The Broad Experience Episode 20: The Man Show. Where three men and a woman discuss a few of these issues. Did you know that there is a group for Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) in this arena? Check it out and share with some of your male colleagues.

You might say, but eventually the conference will change! Exactly. As the field we are in changes, our experiences and issues will change, and this Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing should change to reflect the changing culture.

For now, back to the present. In one particular discussion I had at GHC13, there were three women and one man, we discussed how each of us felt when we saw him at the conference and how he felt in different situations. Remarkably even though we were all strangers to each other  after a few minutes of talking we could be honest and open about this topic. I believe this is in part because of the personalities we had present, but also because no one was on the defense or offense, GHC is the one place I’ve found that creates an environment that makes honest discussion possible. Not once have I started this discussion with men at GHC and regretted it.

We had varying ages and experience levels present as well as varying backgrounds. The two other ladies  and gentleman at the table were attending their first GHC. This was my 5th year attending and 6th year volunteering. For me it was great to see a handful of new male faces participating in sessions and giving talks as well as mixing with attendees and mentoring. For the other two women, they were hesitant at first, wanting to know why there were men here at all.

Most first timers to GHC are under the misconception that this is a women only conference, it is not, this is a Celebration of (not for) Women in Computing. In years past, and in this years sessions you will find male and female speakers in the program. This is incredibly useful, we cannot have a balanced discussion about equality in the work place with out all parties represented. For some attendees this is the first time they have been in a conversation about women in computing. Having a female majority experiencing the same biases they do is very useful, but it is just as useful to see that there are men willing to address the issues we face.

But how do we remove the stigma of men attending just as an attendee. I’ve heard from men that it is easier to answer the question why are you here when they can say “I am a speaker”, or “I am a recruiter”, or “my girlfriend/advisor/wife asked me to come” when the real answer is they support women in tech and attended to help advance the status of women in tech and celebrate women in computing. For me, and I believe most veteran attendees, this answer is a good one, but for some it is suspicious.

How do we make it easier for men who want to support us to attend, contribute, and grow? Just as we have women ABI Ambassadors whose job it is to bring the opportunities available to women back to their universities and organizations, we need a male ambassador group. What would they do? Attend sessions, take part in the discussion, take part in the solutions, learn from the sessions and bring back their experiences to their companies and networks! Be a point of contact for ABI to pass along opportunities to others. How do we make this possible? Well I’m working on it with the help of ABI and a few volunteers, so if you are interested leave a comment or contact me directly.

I will close with one last thought. By being in attendance these men are giving us permission to start these discussions. They most certainly aren’t going to attend GHC and expect NOT to talk about obstacles for women in computing. The definition of feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. This is a genderless word; as such feminist is also a genderless word. We all have unconscious biases, but we can consciously choose to work towards equal rights and opportunities, part of the goal of a conference like GHC is to provide a safe environment for addressing these issues, let’s address them together.

GHC13: Asking for a raise and getting it


This talk by Matt Wallaert, Behavioral Psycologist with Bing at Microsoft, was the third in the session Lightning Talks on Career.  The session started first with Sabrina Williams from Google giving some pointers on “Nailing Your Technical Interview”, see her blog here and the wiki notes if you missed it. Then we heard from Ketki Warudkar from Box on “Thinking Big While You’re Young”. These two very useful topics targeted the audience members just starting out, unsure of how to interview well and how to start making decisions on your career path, a perfect lead in to those who currently have jobs and are probably underpaid due to the gender wage gap quoted as around 30%.

For just the note/facts from “Asking for a raise and getting it”, see the session notes on the wiki.
The message here is important, if we start and continue our careers by being underpaid it is very difficult to close the wage gap. As Matt informs us, even if we stop eating, not stop eating out but stop eating that would not make up for the difference in salary we make in a year. See Matt discuss this here. Once you accept your incoming salary to a company all of your raises are based on a percentage of that number to increase.
How do we know what we are worth, go to, it is free.  Here you can find out based upon your title and contributions to your company, prior and future, what you should be paid based upon people in your geographical area with similar titles.
Get Raised was founded in 2010 by Matt Wallaert and Avi Karnani and has continued with the support of a few companies and team of people to bring its current incarnation to us. They have created a salary engine that is based upon government data, user information, and current job postings to narrow the wage gap and help people get paid what they are worth.
So, what if you are underpaid? The site will help you construct a raise request that maximizes your chance of getting a raise.
Raises are not about emotions or about what you want they are about value to the company. You can’t just walk in and ask for a 20% raise the answer will likely be no, the inflection point is 12%, the most successful request is 8%. Maximize the likelihood.
How has it worked for users so far? 72% of women who have used the service have successfully gotten a raise on average of >$6500. This is a big deal, integrate this over the life time of these women and you are talking millions of dollars.
Do you know what you are worth?
Are you afraid to ask for a raise?
Even if you know what you are worth, I believe we should all head on over and use the site, because I for one want everyone to be paid what they are worth and if www.getraised.comuses user data then we should all be putting our information in and giving more data points. Many companies discourage sharing what you are paid with co-workers; some even come right out and say when they give you a raise that it’s in your best interest not to talk about it citing at work jealousy as a reason.
Let’s be as brave as the women who are using this tool to ask for a raise! Watch this 5 minute video where Matt talk about this here take a few minutes to pass along this message. As of this posting, this video only has 67 views, let’s change that. I have seen our online community come together and address things on the internet that shouldn’t be happening, lets watch this video and use this tool, lets close the gap!

In closing here are a few reactions to the site and talk via twitter. Please leave a comment if you went over to the site, I did and I will write a blog on my experience later.

hey Matt Wallaert, hilarious. transformational. u are amazing, thank u 🙂 @ghc career lightening talks aud 2.
— Bobbilee (@bobbilee19) October 4, 2013

Matt Wallaert: a request for an 8% raise is most successful. A 12% raise request is the inflection point, so don’t ask more than that. #GHC
— Stacy Branham (@Branhammertime) October 4, 2013

Matt Wallaert: No one ever gets fired when asking for a raise. #GHC
— Stacy Branham (@Branhammertime) October 4, 2013

Want to learn more about how GetRaised works, and what it does? Cofounder Matt Wallaert talks about it in this video.
— GetRaised (@GetRaised) June 6, 2013

Matt turns out to be behind a bunch of impressive things; Bing for Schools & the awesome site
— Mary Branscombe (@marypcbuk) October 11, 2013