Part of my job as Treasurer of Purdue's ACM-W is that I get to go to Indiana Celebration of Women In Computing. InWIC can be thought of as a smaller scale version of the Grace Hopper Convention, the target audience is women.
The Only Male
I am not a women, I did not fit the "target audience", that does not mean I didn't learn anything or benifit 100% as much as the women. I might have learned more as a man than I would have had I been a woman.
Women are the under-represented minority in computing, and are loosing ground. Peaking at 38% in the mid-80s 1 the percentage of women in the computing industry has been falling ever since. In 2006 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that that 38% had fallen to 27% 2. Last year NPR put that number at 20% 3. The goal of InWIC, and hundreds of other women-focused groups is to reverse that trend!
What I learned
While working with women and technology is not 100% foreign to me, being the only male was, I learned that there is really no difference in discussing technology with men or women, there is the same breadth of knowledge.
One of the differences I did notice was their plans after Acadamia, many women wanted to go into Biological Technology (BioTech), or they wanted to help people in some form or another. This is opposded to the typical male who goes into traditional programming, system admin, or other computing fields.
In terms of being the only male around I noticed that women travel in packs, they follow the rules more then males, they also tend to talk about life as opposed to work (in this case technology).
Overall I had a really great time learning about women in computing. It was an eye opening experince and definetly changed my stance on the number of women in computing.