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Center: Pauline “Stormie” Jackson of Sinte Gleska University attended the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration, courtesy AnitaB.org and the American Indian College Fund. (http://sdepscor.org)

Eight Native women in tech attended a recent conference dedicated to bringing the career interests of women in computing to the forefront. The women, who all attend tribal colleges, received free registration and trip expenses, thanks to funding from Northrop Grumman and a partnership between the American Indian College Fund (AICF) and AnitaB.org.

None of the women had previously attended the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC)— the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. The 2018 conference, hosted in Houston, Texas on September 26-28, proved a unique and eye-opening experience for them. The celebration, named after computer scientist Grace Hopper, is organized by the AnitaB.org Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery.

“I am grateful that I could experience Grace Hopper Celebration,” said Stormie Jackson, a student at Sinte Gleska University. “It was more just attending sessions and learning from the experience — it is also a life changer in the sense that you make life long connections with companies and other attendees.”

“Thanks to AnitaB.org, [these students] returned to their academic institutions with a stronger vision for their futures,” added Jack Soto, Program Manager at Career Readiness Pathways.

AICF and AnitaB.org were able to connect these women with Robin Máxkii, one of the students from the series Roadtrip Nation: Code Trip. Robin grew up in a small Native American tribe where access to technology was limited. She built her own computer when she could not afford the one she wanted, and continues to follow her passion for tech by coding and blogging, making her an inspiring role model for underrepresented women in tech.

“As a female Native in tech, I often find myself underrepresented at conferences,” said Máxkii. “This was an extraordinary opportunity to not just be in a room surrounded by women in technology, but meet people whose backgrounds were similar and who had similar goals. To be surrounded by that much ambition, brilliance, and inspiration is a powerful motivating force.”

In a press release, AnitaB.org said the organization looks forward to seeing how these eight Native women will change the future of tech.

“I think tech is heavily a part of underserved urban and rural communities, because you’ve got to figure out a way to make stuff work—that is the basis of hacking,” says Robin Maxkii. (Courtesy American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Diné College, American Indian College Fund google.com/about/stories/betweenworlds/)

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