Celebrating diversity in the Asia-Pacific technology field, the first Hopper Down Under conference took place in Brisbane this week. Modeled on the AnitaB.org Grace Hopper Celebration, the event drew women technologists from undergraduates to CEOs with industry leading experts such as Major General Kathryn Toohey of the Australian Army and Australia STEM Ambassador Prof Lisa Harvey-Smith speaking at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The events are named for Grace Hopper, who was a computer scientist and rear admiral in the US Navy. Sue Keay, research director of cyber-physical systems at CSIRO’s Data61 was instrumental in bringing the event to Australia. She cited the lack of gender diversity in her field as an impetus, citing that whilst cyber-physical systems has 44 per cent diversity of culture, its gender diversity is less than 10 per cent. 

Hopper Down Under featured six tracks featuring panels, presentations, and workshops on research, careers and leadership, technology, product, education, and a poster session. Platinum sponsors were Australian National University, BHP, and Google, with Data61, Microsoft for Startups, Monash University, Northrop Grumman, Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Adelaide as silver sponsors.

Anita B was founded in 1987 by computer scientist Anita Borg to create a community for women in technology and now spans more than 80 countries.