From left: Carly Donovan, Willow Solem, Shweta Inamdar, Eva Martinez, Shelby Wingo, Betsy Thomas, Ana Felisatti, Clare Letourneau, from MuleSoft.
This month, we sent 9 Muleys from San Francisco and Buenos Aires to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration Conference (GHC) in Orlando, Florida. GHC is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, with over 16,000 attendees––including students, engineers, and educators from all over the world.
Attending Grace Hopper is representative of our longstanding commitment to equal opportunity. Last year, we signed the Equal Pay Pledge to reaffirm our belief in providing a workplace where everyone is equally inspired and enabled to do their best work. We’re also deeply invested in creating an equal opportunity workplace from the starting point: before high school. We’ve held Coding Cup, a hackathon for middle and high school girls and, in addition, we are a platinum sponsor of Chicas en Tecnologia in Buenos Aires, a group dedicated to providing girls with education and mentorship around computer science and engineering.
Grace Hopper is a conference very much in line with these activities. Being a part of such a storied event and meeting women in engineering from all over the world is truly inspiring. We asked some of the Muleys who attended GHC to talk their favorite things about the event. Here is what they had to say!
Our demo: Tweet a picture and your tweet will appear on a Commodore 64 screen.
1. What was your favorite thing about attending GHC?
“It’s about awareness. I loved representing MuleSoft, knowing how much the company supports solving the gender gap in tech, like with our work with Chicas en Tecnologia in Buenos Aires. I loved talking to people at the booth because I had the chance to meet a lot of people––from incredible young women starting their career to MuleSoft users who wanted to talk about how much they loved the product.” – Ana Felisatti, Senior Software Engineer
“I genuinely feel inspired, smarter, and more competent after hearing the array of stories from the large and diverse group of women. So many have worked hard to achieve their goals and dreams despite seemingly insurmountable odds. But they aren’t just people on stage—a lot of the attendees come from a variety of backgrounds, and they are excited to talk to you and share, and you begin to realize everything you have in common, and that you are amazing too.” – Willow Solem, Software Engineer
“My favorite thing about attending GHC was speaking with current students. They were far and above their years in terms of their professionalism and poise. Many women mentioned that their schools prepared them specifically for GHC!” – Betsy Thomas, Sourcer & Event Coordinator
2. What was most inspiring about GHC?
“In one of the sessions about building confidence, the speaker said courage is contagious. You show the courage and you it’s contagious because you can motivate people around you. I loved the “I AM … ” signs each speaker brought on the stage, e.g. ‘I AM a conductor of change,’ ‘I AM a leader of this movement,’ ‘I AM an engineer, a mom and ready to change the world,’ all of these signs were a clear representation of the future of women in technology.
One day, during the conference, I met a college student who was a little demotivated to see the vast competition required to get in the tech industry. We all talked to her and lifted her courage to face the interviews, mentored her about what she is looking for, her interests. She left our booth feeling confident. It made me happy, because I was able to give something back to this inspiring community.” – Shweta Inamdar, Senior Software Engineer in Test
“The power of representation – seeing so many women come together to share ideas and experiences – really makes you feel connected and empowered. All the attendees had such diverse backgrounds and experiences, and we heard many stories of women that were not only defying odds for themselves, but also working on projects to help lift other women up.” – Shelby Wingo, Recruiting Coordinator
“They say you can’t be what you can’t see, so that is an excellent way to make career paths visible to women. Hearing from very successful women regarding their professional and personal journeys was awesome.” – Ana Felisatti
“The women attending GHC were fearless. Many of the women I talked to had taught themselves to code in high school (and some even in middle school) to prepare themselves for college courses in computer science. One woman expressed how important it is to her to have a foundation of computer science understanding because she did not want to get scared away or intimidated out of the major in college, especially because she figured she’d be in the minority of women. I was incredibly impressed by how forward thinking she was and her courage in admitting fear. She knew what her goal was, she knew she would be emotionally tested in order to attain her goal, and she planned accordingly.” – Betsy Thomas
3. What did you learn at GHC that you’ll apply to your work at MuleSoft?
“I would love to see more of our engineers going to conferences and giving talks or demos. One of the messages of the conference was “Be Bold.” We often dream or talk about the things we want to do or directions we want to go with our careers, and it is easy to let those aspirations go due to fear. People talked about wanting to change roles within their companies, wanting to give talks about projects they’ve worked on, wanting to share their struggles with others, and so much more. But many of these women couched these desires with reasons why they couldn’t do these things.
Yes, “Be Bold” may seem obvious, but acknowledging the difficulties with boldness, and learning strategies to plan boldness was incredibly helpful. With this: I had submitted a talk that was rejected, and my response at the time was: “Of course it was rejected – it wasn’t a good enough proposal.” Then I went to a talk that covered the same subject and, yes, it was better, but it wasn’t significantly more complicated, and it made me realize that I am not as far behind in that area as I had thought.” – Willow Solem
“Being a part of Grace Hopper made me feel very proud, respected, and inspired. There were multiple workshops related to behavioral and professional development, boosting confidence, dealing with unconscious bias to advance your career––and all of these events helped me to look at the challenges from a different perspective and learn how to support my women coworkers too. We need MuleSoft women to stand out in the crowd and Grace Hopper is the best place to encourage that!” – Shweta Inamdar
To sum up the week, as Willow says, “there are thousands of brilliant, enthusiastic, ambitious engineers thrusting resumes in your face throughout the day. If these girls are the future, then the future is looking good.” All in all, it was a fast-paced 3 days and we learned a ton—which is exactly what Muleys thrive on, and we can’t wait for next year!