March 2005

Gracenet: The New Girls’ Network

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Gracenet organisation tells an interesting story about how ICT is helping in redressing gender inequalities through networking among women. It started eight years ago when Sylvia Paull formed this group for the professional women of today. GraceNet is named after Grace Hopper, whose pioneering work in computer programming and cryptography provides inspiration and encouragement for women who work in computing and related fields.

Gracenet is a virtual group with several thousand women members who are working in high technology. It helps them to share and talk about various gender related issues which they face in their profession. The discussion list runs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gracenet/. This not only strengthens the confidence of women members but it also solves a lot of their problems.

Gracenet works on a simple model. There is no membership fee to become a member of the group. One can write to Sylvia to become a member of the online discussion list. Once in a month the group meets for a get together at the home of a member, share a meal, talk about what each one is doing, ask for help if they need any and listen to a speaker who talks about various aspects of women in the high tech industry. Through face-to-face meetings at its various chapters, it has encouraged women to help each other find work and employees, some women have started companies by meeting other women in Gracenet. Meetings also serve to inspire and mentor women by having pioneers who have made achievements in the field of high tech speak to the group specifically about how they overcame obstacles created by gender discrimination and offer their valuable insights to women.

Rebecca Eisenberg, is the General Counsel for Paypal, and is pregnant with her second child in as many years. She did not tell her boss that she was pregnant until it became obvious for fear she would not receive the same treatment as other workers. That women still get penalised

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