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Celebrating Women in Tech at the Grace Hopper Conference

By: Helen Kim, VP Business Operations of Product & Technology, eBay

Looking back at an eventful week of collaboration, innovation and mentoring.

Every year, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing is a reminder of how far our industry has come – and encouraging to see the growing number of women pursuing careers in technology. It was a privilege to attend this year’s conference and to see first-hand, how many women are contributors, mentors, innovators in our industry.

 Fifteen thousand women attended the event in Houston, including interns, recent college graduates, technical managers and executives. To put that number in perspective, when the conference began in 1994, there were only 500 attendees. Notably, about 1,000 of the attendees were men, and it was noted at the conference that men and women are both essential to driving diversity initiatives.

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eBay, a Diamond Sponsor of GHC, also had an active recruiting presence of Global Talent Engagement representatives on hand, focusing on bringing the most qualified women technologists to the company. A reception that we hosted was one of the highlights of the conference, with about 160 eBay attendees and 200+ prospective job candidates.

Talking with the prospective job candidates gave me the opportunity to not only learn about their skills and interests, but also the opportunity for me to share eBay’s purpose.  They were impressed with our commitment to our seller community and how we make an impact on their lives. In addition, many of them were surprised to hear about some of eBay’s key statistics. I explained to them that 80 percent of the items sold are new, 80 percent of the items can be bought immediately (buy it now), 65 percent of items ship in three days or less, and that eBay has more than one billion items listed. These statistics really seemed to get them excited about applying. 

At the event, several speakers from both eBay and StubHub appeared, addressing the following topics:

-       eBay’s Public API’s Product Announcement: Gail Frederick, eBay Senior Director, discussed our release of public Application Programming Interfaces for both buyers and sellers.  See the announcement here.  

-       P is for Promotion: How to get recognized at work!: Shilpa Vir, eBay Lead Product Manager, discussed strategies for getting recognized.

-       Hands-On Introduction to GPU Architecture: Programming a Parallel Algorithm: eBay Software Engineer Jin Chung joined Michal Weija for this discussion.

-       Large-Scale Automated Keyword Sourcing for Text Ads in Paid Search: eBay Engineer Xutong Liu joined eBay Research Scientist Suxin Guo for this presentation.

-       Why We Updated Our Brand And Refocused On Diversity in Events: Jennifer Betka, StubHub’s CMO addressed brand and diversity initiatives.

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Among the sessions and keynotes, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's keynote was especially memorable. She emphasized the following points: 

1) Never let someone define who you are. You define who you are! 

2) Growth and comfort never co-exist. 

3) Work on something you're passionate about, and work on something bigger than yourself.

This is how I've approached my own career so I loved having the CEO of IBM share this advice with conference attendees. 

As many of my colleagues have noted, making diversity and inclusion a focal point of both our hiring practices and business model is the right thing to do, and I consider it to be a business imperative. Diversity fosters discussion and robust idea development. This concept was very evident at the Grace Hopper conference.

 The Grace Hopper event provided evidence that we are on the right path with our efforts to promote women in technology. I found the conference to be extremely rewarding and I met many inspiring women. Their ideas, ambition, and competence are poised to propel our industry further.

 What can we do to further our awareness and drive change in the tech industry? Encourage women to pursue technology. Discuss diversity and inclusion in your workplaces and communities. (On this note, at eBay we just released our study of gender pay equity at our company, which showed parity between pay for men and women.) Lastly, continue to reduce the barriers that impede hiring and advancing women in technology. Join me in this important journey!

 

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