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November 02, 2016
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Reflections from the Grace Hopper Conference


“The most damaging phrase in the language is, ‘It’s always been done that way.’”
– Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, United States Navy

This year Hortonworks was a Gold Sponsor at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference in Houston, Texas. This conference is named in honor of Grace Hopper, a pioneer in the field of computing who invented the first programming language compiler.

I have attended this conference twice before, but this was the first time I attended with 12 Hortonworkers. As technology innovators, we set out to join Grace Hopper’s flourishing community of like-minded and diverse women who are innovating at the forefront of technology and organizational change.

We attended primarily to learn – to see what others are doing to empower women in the workplace, to attract more women to open source, and to further encourage a younger generation of women to pursue degrees in STEM.

Some of the highlights of the event included:

  • Keynote by Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America and former Vice President of Google X, who discussed current modernization efforts in the US government and urged us to push back against unconscious gender bias in media.
  • Keynote interview with Marc Benioff , Salesforce CEO, who took a stand and equalized pay for men and women at his company, saying “We all have to see ourselves in each other.”
  • Keynote by Latanya Sweeney – Professor at Harvard University, the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, and the founder of the Data Privacy Lab – who discussed the impact of technological design decisions on society and policy, including how to use technology to assess and address societal issues.
  • Hortonworks water bottles – you wouldn’t imagine how fast these were flying off the table!

Besides the keynotes, we attended a wide variety of sessions that ranged from technical to career-oriented, with an entire track on open source. This was a great opportunity for us to interact and exchange ideas with the broader community (including other open source enthusiasts!).

We came back from the conference energized and very hopeful for the future, and we are looking forward to continuing to participate in this great event.

Conference keynotes can be watched online at


Dr. Robert Rinaldi says:


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