I am having a great time at this conference. For one thing, I am realizing for the first time that I am a role model! I knew, intellectually, that I am a role model for young people who are interested in the computing field, but it never really sank in until now.
This conference is overwhelmingly attended by students, and they all want to be like me! Weird! Wacky! Incredibly flattering!
Which is not to say that they all want to go into my field, exactly, or work where I work. But there are an awful lot of them who plan to get a Ph.D. and enter the computing field, some at national labs, others in industry or at universities. And they want to hear my story, and get some advice. They are attentive and ask thoughtful questions.
And they are all so bright and so ambitious! (I mean that in a good way.) I was talking to some young women and in doing so recruited myself a summer intern to work with me on software. I've given away more business cards than I can count.
I'm also loving the diversity. The faces I see at this conference are very different from what I see every day at work. A white male friend of mine, in attendance at this conference, remarked upon his new-found minority status. "Welcome to my world," I retorted, with my African-American colleague in concurrence. We felt little sympathy for his discomfort.
Our presentation yesterday went well. It was well received and we got a lot of good feedback. I've networked a lot and made connections for my newest proposal, which involves broadening participation in the computing area. I'm really excited about outreach and getting a broader segment of society involved in computing!