Googlers @ the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: Daniela & Michal

Leading up to GHC, we’ve heard from Googlers about what they’re most looking forward to celebrating while in Houston. Today at #GHC15, two Googlers are being celebrated for their dedication to building the next generation of female computer scientists.
Meet Daniela and Michal: Daniela and Michal were the first two female software engineers at Google’s research and development center in Tel Aviv, Israel. Together, in addition to their primary work as software engineers, they’re answering the question, “How can we inspire more young women to enter computer science and help bridge the gender gap?” Daniela leads a team of engineers in Tel Aviv working on software powering the Google network. Michal recently relocated to Mountain View, California where she leads a team of engineers working on Android Play. Today they’re being recognized with this year’s Social Impact ABIE Award.

Daniela and Michal, congratulations on your award! Can you tell us more about how Mind the Gap started?

Michal: Neither one of us had knowledge of what computer science was before taking a programming course after high school. We both realized how impactful early exposure could have been for us and we wanted to help female students get an early start. The perception of CS needs to change in order for these future computer scientists to even be interested in the first place.

Daniela: We started our work with Mind the Gap as a 20% project here at Google (ie. something we worked on outside of our day-to-day responsibilities). Thanks to the support of global Googlers, who continue to impress us with their passion and commitment to diversity, we have been able to scale this year-over-year by reaching out to more students.

At its core, your program exposes young women to mentors. Who have your role models been in your technical careers?

Daniela & Michal: Over the years we were exposed to world-famous leaders in the industry such as Susan Wojcicki, Jen Fitzpatrick, Megan Smith, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, who became role models to nearly every woman in tech. In addition, we have been lucky to meet strong female engineers at Google who have become personal friends, mentors and inspirations.

Mind the Gap started in 2008 and has grown exponentially in seven years. Seven years from now, what do you want this program to be known for?

Daniela & Michal: We’re proud that Mind the Gap has reached over 10,000 girls across Israel, Japan, Poland, Brazil and North America. And we are constantly scaling our program to maximize our impact. The addition of student ambassadors has allowed us to reach even more girls in our efforts. The student ambassador model also gives girls the opportunity to practice critical leadership skills with their peers. While we are thrilled that 40% of our annual conference’s participants have chosen to pursue CS classes in high school, we hope to increase the reach of the program ten-fold in the next seven years.

We’re looking forward to celebrating you when you receive your award here at GHC this evening. What has been a highlight of the GHC celebration for you this year?

Daniela: I have never been surrounded by so many technical women. Being around the 13,000 attendees at GHC this year is absolutely one of the most incredible experiences.

Michal: Seeing so many people, both men and women, who understand the importance of diversity and want to do something about it. This is now a global issue, it’s not a “women’s problem” anymore; diversity is key for getting the next generation of technology talent.

If you’re here in Houston, join us today, Thursday, Oct 15 at 5:30pm CT in Halls D-E Level 1 to see Daniela and Michal accept their award.