Serena Williams, Ellen Pao to heading virtual Grace Hopper Celebration


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Last year, more than 26,000 participants showed up at Grace Hopper.

If you speak to anybody who’s participated in the Grace Hopper Celebration — a 20-year-running conference for ladies in tech — they’ll likely point out the experience of remaining in a space filled with ladies, originating from a market where that’s hardly ever the case. 

This year, however, GHC is moving online. Given the coronavirus pandemic, basically every occasion, from San Diego Comic-Con to Apple’s WWDC, has actually needed to equate its speakers, crowds and workshops into a virtual online forum. 

“[We’re trying] to make it so that it’s much easier to get used to this brand-new paradigm: attempting to participate in a world class conference that’s jam loaded with info and chance to communicate with others. But, do it in your home, where there are great deals of diversions,” stated Brenda Darden Wilkerson, president and CEO of, the company behind GHC. 

GHC covers a large range of subjects. Some are straight associated with variety in the market. You’ll likewise discover talks on whatever from how to get rid of imposter syndrome to technical subjects like AI and database structure. 

Last year in Orlando, Florida, GHC generated 26,000 participants. This year, the number has actually currently broken 30,000, according to Wilkerson, maybe due in part to the reality that an online conference indicates a less expensive ticket and not needing to persuade your manager to let you take the bulk of a week off and spend for lodgings. 

On the speaker front, though virtual, this year’s GHC boasts some larger names understood outside the tech world. Tennis legend Serena Williams will provide the opening keynote. Off the court, Williams established financial investment company Serena Ventures in 2014, with a specific eye on business with varied management. According to the company’s website, 60% of financial investments go to such business. Williams is likewise wed to Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who stepped down from his board position in June, and asked for that he be changed with a black board member.

Co-captain of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team Megan Rapinoe will likewise speak. Along with making headings for winning 2 World Cup champions, Rapinoe’s been an outspoken supporter for equivalent pay, a subject suitable to not only nationwide soccer groups however the tech market. 

Within the market, another significant speaker will be Ellen Pao, previous Reddit CEO, who took legal action against financial investment company Kleiner Perkins over gender discrimination in 2015. She likewise established Project Include, a non-profit that concentrates on variety and addition in tech. 

“This year more than ever,” Wilkerson stated, “what I am hoping from Grace Hopper is that people understand that they are important to their community and their society and that they’re able to gain some relationships and gain some knowledge that they can keep going 365 days a year.”

In these pandemic times, publications consisting of The Washington Post and The New York Times have actually gone over how the concern of household care frequently is up to ladies. Many have currently give up tasks to tend to kids and, as the Post heading cautioned, it might “set a generation of women back.” 

In short, not every female who wishes to may be able to tune in to a session. 


Brenda Darden WIlkerson, right, is the president and CEO of

Wilkerson stated that’s partially why GHC is using recordings of the session as needed for 60 days or a year (depending upon the ticket tier) so individuals can see or rewatch when they have time. 

“People are at home, their kids are home, their spouses are at home. There might even be competition for devices,” she stated, “We made sure that it’s all in bite-sized pieces. Most things are no longer than 30 minutes, so if people need to jump in and get a taste, and then stop and help their children with the lesson, they’re able to do that.”

In addition, in a report on variety, equity and addition, GHC collected feedback from participants on how they’re feeling about the state of the market. Although prominent tech business have actually put cash, resources and a great little bit of PR into variety and addition efforts, the numbers tend to promote themselves. Change is sluggish for ladies, and even slower for ladies of color.

The remarks in the report show some enhancement in the market for many years, however insufficient, especially when it pertains to the requirements of ladies of color. 

“Awareness of bias and D&I has increased, which is great. However, the boys club remains strong and women must still prove themselves more than men,” one participant stated. 

Another provided: “As ubiquitous as diversity and inclusion has become as terms, many leaders give lip service to change without making the commitment it deserves.”

Yet another kept in mind that raised awareness of the predispositions ladies experience has actually been a great action, however some male colleagues are ending up being resentful.

Still, Wilkerson sees hope in the number of staff members do feel there’s been development and are taking note of what their companies are doing, or not doing. 

“We’re seeing the ripple effects across the industry where not only are the women asking for the issues to be solved, but the companies are coming to the table,” she stated. 

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