On Monday, December 5th, over 90 people gathered in the Shriver Clipper room to learn from the personal experiences of a diverse group of women in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. The event was sponsored by the Graduate Association [of women] in CS & ECE (GRACE) and organized by Kate Fischl and Michelle Graham, both PhD students in ECE and co-chairs of GRACE.

The event consisted of a keynote speech delivered by ECE’s assistant professor, Archana Venkataraman. Professor Venkataraman shared some of her personal story and provided encouragement to the audience by speaking about her personal strategies to keep gender from inhibiting her scientific accomplishments. A panel discussion followed featuring Dr. Louise Sengupta (Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems), Prof. Muyinatu Bell (assistant professor in ECE, joint appointment in BME), Prof. Joanne Selinksi (associate teaching professor in CS), Ayushi Sinha (CS graduate student), and Paige Senal (CS Undergraduate student, president of JHU Women in CS).

The panelists discussed topics including their reasons for pursuing technical careers, challenges they have each faced along the way, and primarily, ways to encourage other women to enter into and remain in their fields, methods to combat gender bias, and the impact of mentoring in the efforts. With part of the audience being male participants, the importance of male and majority participation in pursuing diversity, empowering women, and in combating gender bias was also discussed. The event concluded with a reminder from co-organizer Kate Fischl that this is “only the beginning of a very important conversation”.