Logo: University of Southern California

Six Viterbi Students Attend Women in Computing Conference

Department pays for attendance at “inspiring” gathering of 1300 female scientists
Eric Mankin
October 31, 2006 — The Grace Murray Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the sixth installment of annual event designed to bring the research

Welcome to San Diego: 2006 Hopper Conference poster:
and career interests of women in computing to the forefront, attracted 1300 participants to San Diego this year, including six Viterbi women.

The department of computer science joined with the USC Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) effort and the Viterbi School to pay all expenses for the sextet, participation encouraged by CS chair Gérard Medioni, and organized by research associate professor Mary Hall, an ISI CS researcher who attended earlier gatherings, assisted by CS department undergraduate advisor Steve Schrader.

Also attending was Maja Mataric, professor of computer science and the Viterbi School's senior associate dean for research.

The conference, co-sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute For Women and Technology and the Association For Computing Machinery brings together prominent women computer scientists from the industrial, academic and government communities.

The CS department selected the women on the basis of essays submitted, saying why they wanted to attend.

The group included undergrads Imane Idbihi, Tania Nasser, Leslie Nguyen and Shivani Srivastava, and grad students Pamela Fox and Hyunjin Yoon.

Inspired: (from left) Pamela Fox, Leslie Nguyen, Imane Idbihi, and Hyunjin Yoon
Idbihi, who will graduate from the five-year progressive masters program in fall, found the event inspirational: “in other conferences,” she said, “women are so few. But here, everywhere you look it is just women.  You suddenly realize that there are many in the field. And you think, if they go there, I can do it too.”

And the conference was not just about possibilities. Idbihi, who was wondering whether to continue for a Ph.D. or go into industry, networked the large industry turnout, with companies like Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, IBM and other sponsoring hospitality suites, and recruiters working the area.

“It was really helpful,” she said, adding that the event had helped her make up her mind to go into industry – at least for a while - rather than immediately going for a Ph.D.

Grad student Pamela Fox “was slightly apprehensive in attending the event. I'm so accustomed to the female-male ratio that it's a non-issue for me. But attending the conference made me realize that even I have an inaccurate, stereotypical view of female computer scientists.

“I attended several intriguing research presentations and talks about life in the industry, and had fun party-hopping on the networking night and getting to know fellow USC female computer scientists. It was a surprisingly fun event and I'd recommend that future USC females attend.”

Chair Medioni and Viterbi women faculty hope to help make it happen at the next Hopper gathering, scheduled for October 17 through 20 in Orlando, Florida.

Admiral Grace Brewster Murray Hopper(1906-1992), the conference namesake, pioneered the development of computers, continued her

Admiral Hopper: "It's always easier to apologize than to ask permission."
career in the navy, and is likely the only mathematician in American history to have had a warship (a destroyer) named after her. She is one of several candidates as the author of the quote “It's always easier to apologize than to ask permission.”

She also noted: “The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.” A complete biography is at http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/hopper.html