So, I went to Ela Conf in Philadelphia, PA this past weekend, and, like, I don’t even know. I don’t even know what happened. I’m going to try and write a blog post, but I’m also sure there’s no way to put the experience into words that properly express how amazing the weekend was.
First, some disclosure. I knew I wanted to go to a conference, but every time I heard about one I could even think of going to, it was impossible–either registration had closed, or going would have cost me a thousand dollars, or both (usually both). Even though I make sweet, sweet developer money now, I’m still a single mom with bills and a crapload of debt, so let’s be real: if it’s gonna cost more than a few hundred bucks to go to something, I’m not going. I’ve heard from other people that a $400 conference ticket is “so cheap”, that the associated $800+ hotel stay is “reasonable for the venue”, and it’s totally okay to do things like fly across the country and eat $100 hotel-restaurant meals in the name of networking. Maybe that’s true for people who aren’t nine months into their first real jobs and don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, but for me? Networking doesn’t keep my lights on and my kid fed. (I guess I could set all the business cards I’d collect on fire for warmth, but that seems impractical.)
Here’s the first amazing thing about Ela: through sponsorship, they were able to pay stipends for speaker travel and childcare, and provide grants for ticket cost to any woman who applied. In case you can’t figure out where this is going, my broke self got a ticket grant, which left me enough money to book a motel in New Jersey and buy gasoline to drive back and forth from Cleveland.
Takeaway: if a small, second-year conference in Philadelphia can get sponsorship enough to do this, why the hell can’t conferences with much more name recognition and/or budget do it, too?
I am so, so pleased to tell you, readers, that this past Saturday, I was on a panel of women answering attendee questions about their careers during Hyland’s first Women in Tech conference! Here’s the official press release blurb:
“Hyland will host the Women in Tech Conference on Saturday, October 8 at its headquarters in Westlake, Ohio. Working with close partners the Ohio Collaboration of Women in Computing (OCWiC) and We Can Code It, the half-day conference aims to inform women about the career opportunities within computer science and information technology (IT) professions.
Attendees will hear from female software developers, quality assurance (QA) specialists and senior IT managers who will provide insight into their technology backgrounds, what interested them about their chosen fields and the roles and responsibilities for their positions.”
Feedback for the event has been overwhelmingly positive. It was a great day at Hyland for those of us who were speaking, and I’m really glad to hear that it was a great day for our attendees, too! There was a lot of good energy in the room that came from over fifty women in one place with one goal: to represent and increase the presence and visibility of women in technology. The conference opened with a talk by Brenda Kirk, Hyland’s Senior Vice President of Product & Strategry (and my big boss!), followed by a presentation by two of our developers, the Q&A panel where attendees asked us about our career paths and opportunities at Hyland, a talk by my frentor (that’s friend + mentor, for those unaware) Mel McGee of We Can Code IT, and a presentation by volunteers and attendees of the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing (OCWiC).
For more information on Hyland, We Can Code IT and OCWiC, check out:
I was also asked to speak at a recent We Can Code IT commencement, but that’s its own blog post, and it hasn’t been written yet! I’ve been keeping busy lately and am looking forward to finally being able to give updates on all the projects I have going on, including a new website (here’s a hint: I now own http://www.mylittlecoding.com) and a new meetup group. Stay tuned. 🙂