By Madelynn Bland —

The University of Louisville Women Center’s “3rd Annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Watch Party” celebrated women in the computer industry and highlighted their struggles and achievements Feb. 20.

The watch party streamed the Grace Hopper Celebration from 2019 and allowed attendees to network with successful women and learn about the computing field as a whole. 

There is currently a scholarship open for any woman with an interest in the field to attend this event. Last year, U of L student Alexus Maddox was a recipient of this scholarship. 

Many courageous women have worked to open the door for all women to be able to join this field, but there is still a great misrepresentation of women in the field.

Maddox said only 20 percent of the people in the computing field are women. However, she also shared that over 21,000 women attended Grace Hopper in 2019. She said that everywhere she went, there were lines spanning entire hallways full of women hoping to become more involved. 

The event spotlighted many empowered and successful women in computing whose speeches were showcased at the watch party on Thursday.

One of these women was Dr. Natalya Bailey, an aerospace engineer and the co-founder and CEO of Accion Systems. Bailey was the 2019 Emerging Technologist Abie Award Winner and the keynote speaker at last year’s event.

In her speech, she talked about how she has been discouraged by men in the computing field and even told to lower her voice to be taken seriously in computing. Despite this, she has raised over $25 million for her company. The Grace Hopper Celebration puts an emphasis on giving women like Bailey the recognition they deserve.  

Keturah Jenkins, the IT associate director of enterprise transformation at Humana, was the keynote speaker of this year’s watch party.

Prior to Humana, Jenkins spent 17 years at various jobs in the field and wants to tell newcomers to the computing that their journey will never be a straight path, and that’s okay.

“You need to find your passion. But be good at what you do, no matter what it is. Even if it’s just copying papers you never know where that could lead you,”  she said.

The 17 years of being passionate at various jobs led her to where she is now, and she’s proud of it. 

The event showcased how women are making room for other women in a field where they are under-represented. 

“Your journey may look different from someone else’s, but if you know what will make you happy then that’s all that really matters,” Jenkins said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal