This post originally appeared on the Geek Feminism blog and is reposted here for posterity.
Yesterday, I wrote about the talk description for one of the Grace Hopper 2010 keynotes. The talk description began with an anecdote in which Le is told by a male colleague that he never thought of her as a woman, and she responds with “That is one of the best compliments I have ever received in my professional life!” The rest of the description is in a similar vein.
I saw the talk this morning and I’m pleased to report that it did not have much if anything in common with the published talk description. Originally entitled “Camaraderie & Cross Gender Collaboration,” the talk Duy-Loan Le gave today was entitled “Camaraderie & Cross Boundary Collaboration,” with definitions of three specific boundaries that were not directly related to gender. It was what you’d describe as an inspirational talk – positive, not heavy on specifics, and anecdotal – and focused more on cultural and racial challenges than gender.
I am thrilled that the actual talk given by Duy-Loan Le did not resemble the talk description I found in the GHC 2010 program. I am still shocked and surprised to find that talk description in the conference materials for a women in computing conference. This kind of opinion – that women should not be women in order to succeed, and that women are responsible for becoming more like men to make them comfortable – was doubly surprising because the organizers of a women in computing conference should know better.
I do think the organizers of Grace Hopper failed their audience by allowing this talk description in the official conference program. By doing so, they gave these opinions added weight from association with “the” conference on women in computing. I would like to see some response from the organizers counteracting the effect of this publication – or, if all else fails, from the women in computing community at large.