Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grace Hopper Conference: We ARE building a better world

I've always admired people doing great things and making a difference and I look up to them for inspiration and role models, in particular if they're females.

What I really learned in this conference is that they struggle like us, have the impostor syndrome like many of us, love to go dancing like many of us, they're just ahead.
It was inspiring listening to Fran Allen, IBM Fellow Emerita at the J. Watson Research Laboratories, the only woman that has received the ACM's Turing Award (2006), first woman named an IBM Fellow and the first woman president of IBM's Academy of Technology. She shared her big steps on her career and achievements, but she also shared her hopes for the future, which I quote:
  • I'd like to see a new generation of women experience the excitement I feel for our field.
  • I'd like to see women creating the workplace that meets their needs.
  • I'd lie to see Computer Science become a core science of more interest to women (and others).
  • We achieve Anita's (Anita Borg's) goal: 50-50 by 2020.
  • Many Women Turing Award Winners.

Another treat for me, was listening to Mary Lou Jepsen, founding CTO of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), an organization whose mission is to deliver low-cost mesh-networked laptos en masse to children in developing countries. She created the machine many thought it was impossible and she shared with us the process in doing this. For this, she was named in 2008 one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
Mary Lou is such an energetic and inspiring person. She is currently leading her company Pixel Qi and her premise is that portables are all about the screen. And it was in screen innovations where she used her knowledge in Optics to design a cheap, yet reliable and innovative laptop.

These are just a couple of examples of the amazing women we met. I will continue with some of the discussions presented on panels such as: "The Imposter Panel" and "Women Wroking in International Development to Build a Better World". Follow-up posts coming up....


Anonymous said...

Good post. It's interesting that you mention the impostor syndrome.

Over 20-years ago, I saw Paul Newman in an interview say that he always had the feeling that someone was going to come through the crowd, take him by the arm and say, "It's over Newman. It's all been a mistake. You're coming back to paint houses."

When he said that, I immediately understood the feeling. Later I learned that he was describing the impostor syndrome. The Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you are not as smart, talented, or skilled as people think you are. It's the feeling that you are a fake and have been getting away with something and are about to be found out. It affects 70% of adults and is especially prevalent in high achieving women.

I've spent the past two decades living with and learning about this common condition.

The Impostor Syndrome is a fascinating topic and the subject of my new book, "The Impostor Syndrome: How to Replace Self-Doubt with Self-Confidence and Train Your Brain for Success."

You can download Chapter One, "Paul Newman and I" at

Natalia Villanueva-Rosales said...

Thank you John, I will definitively check out your book.
I agree with you, this topic is fascinating, I will share in future post the reflections of successful women we met at GHC08, their impostor careers and their recommendations to deal with it.