ICYMI: My Talk at the 2020 Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration

By Dwana Franklin-Davis

A screenshot from Dwana Franklin-Davis’s virtual Grace Hopper presentation.

The 2020 virtual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) was one for the books. I am honored to have spent a week learning from and being inspired by women in all stages of the tech journey from around the world. In order to fix diversity in the tech sector, we need diverse minds coming together — and that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration.

I spoke alongside powerhouse women like Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe. One of my favorite talks was from Janeen Uzzell, Chief Operating Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, on the importance of telling your story and the role that technology can play to help amplify underrepresented voices (stay tuned for the Reboot Wikipedia page). My talk — Less Guilt, More Action: Centering Women of Color in Grantmaking to Diversify Tech — addressed the importance of strategic and collective action in improving representation in the tech sector, especially for Black, Latina, and Native American women.

In this moment, we need more than words and demonstrated solidarity, we need concrete actions in the tech sector — a commitment or shared theory won’t create change by itself. Notably, we don’t need to start from the ground up — individuals, companies, and organizations have done research and started the work to create change. I’m proud to say that the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is one of these on-the-ground concrete changemakers. At this year’s GHC I discussed three takeaways we have from Reboot Representation’s work:

  1. Check your assumptions at the door — relying on “typical paths” into computing leaves valuable talent pools untapped.
  2. Identify and address unintentional gatekeeping and roadblocks to studying computing.
  3. Every talent pool has unique needs — ask and listen to them.

During my Speaker’s Corner, I had the chance to share more about Reboot’s mission, and hear from fellow women in tech about the academic programs they are working to create in their own organizations. We discussed the importance of coming together to learn and share best practices.

My hope is that you take these learnings with you and meld them into your own work — whether you are a tech employee, an executive, or in HR. It’s time that we all begin to actively prioritize representation and inclusion in the tech sector.

I want to thank Anita B and those working to make this year’s unprecedented virtual Grace Hopper Celebration happen and for offering me this platform. I look forward to seeing how both individuals and companies adapt learnings from such a fruitful and empowering event.

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Reboot Representation

Reboot Representation

A coalition of tech companies committed to doubling the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025.