Women technologists are focus as 18,000 attend Grace Hopper conference to connect and network

 |   Susanna Ray

Salinas and Shapiro sit on a bench together at a round table with a laptop on it. Shapiro is talking and gesturing while Salinas listens.

Edaena Salinas, a Microsoft software engineer who also hosts a weekly podcast called “The Women in Tech Show,” Heather Shapiro, a tech evangelist for Microsoft, and Joy Chik, corporate vice president for the Identity division in Microsoft’s Cloud + Enterprise group, will be among the 18,000 women and men descending on Orlando, Florida, this week for the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

It’s the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, featuring Melinda Gates as this year’s opening-day keynote speaker. The goal is to highlight the contributions of women in tech and provide networking and mentoring opportunities to help encourage women to join the field and support the efforts of those already in it.

It’s also a big recruiting tool, as the industry works to boost the visibility of women and increase their participation. Last year, 31 percent of Microsoft’s new hires coming from universities worldwide were women, up from 28 percent the year before, and the company is aiming for consistent growth in that area.

Chik sees the Grace Hopper conference’s growth — Microsoft alone is sending more than 800 people to the event this year — as both a celebration as well as a call to action. Women have great success stories to share, she said, but they also still face bias on a daily basis.

To learn more about the conference, read the full feature story at the Microsoft News Center.

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