Rina Wehbe at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
by Marisa Benjamin

Women in Computer Science group
Rina Wehbe, Games Institute resident and Computer Science PhD student, attended and mentored at the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in Houston, Texas. Her travels were sponsored by the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) group at UWaterloo, organized by Joanne Atlee.

GHC is a great opportunity for women in technology. It is the world's largest conference for technical women, providing a variety sessions and talks about information technology from both an industry and an academic perspective. Wehbe says:

GHC was inspiring. There were a ton of career panels [so] you get a sense of whose hiring, you get insight into tech companies that support women in tech, and you also get to network and meet people

Wehbe was asked to sit as a mentor at the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) table. Her co-mentors were employees from Microsoft and Google. Wehbe was representing an academic path, whereas her co-mentors represented perspectives on working in industry.

Each guest had 15 minutes to sit with the mentors and ask questions - the experience was appropriately entitled "speed-mentoring". Each chat was driven by the participants questions, for example:

  • How do I know if I want to go into industry or academia?
  • What do the paths look like?
  • What is it like to have a Masters or a PhD?
  • How do I go about picking a supervisor or a school?

This type of advice is invaluable to anyone starting out in their career. Wehbe was able to share her unique perspective on what it was like to switch into Computer Science from a social sciences background, since she obtained an Honours BSc in Psychology, Faculty of Health, at YorkU before entering into Computer Science.

Spot Rina Wehbe on the top right in this picture surrounded by a group of fellow mentors:

Rina with the other Mentors

On Open Source Day, Wehbe had the opportunity to work with a Non-profit company called Oppia. Oppia is an education platform that lets anyone create interactive story-based lessons. Wehbe spent the day collaborating with them on optimization strategies.

Later, Wehbe attended the GHC Twitter party, "You belong in tech". The purpose of the event was to celebrate LGBTQ+ people working and learning in technology. It was another networking opportunity, as well as a momentous and empowering celebration.

Throughout the conference, Wehbe was very active on Twitter. She tweeted a selection of quotes from inspiring women - not only to preserve the memory but also to spread the messages:

Wehbe would like to extend a message of gratitude to the Women in Computer Science group, as well as to Joanne Atlee, for making this experience possible.