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Tech conferences - why bother?

Feb 15 2019
8 min
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Valentina Biciuc
Marketing Specialist

IT is a man’s world, but IT would be nothing without a woman or a girl… So let's find your way to being part of it, starting with tech conferences. Perhaps this is what James Brown would’ve said if he was still alive and working in the tech field. 

 

The Hidden Figures of the Tech Industry

In a male-dominated history, the full potential of women was not only belittled but also conveniently hidden from the common view. God bless the producers of “The Hidden Figures” for reminding us that the first “computer” and the first programmers were actually women.

We bet many could have been knocked down with a feather after hearing about the Women of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Basically, they were the Coding Eves. 

 

”There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”

— Madeleine Albright

 

And here we are in 2018, still dealing with gender inequality and boys’ clubs around most of the tech industries. This is where communities like Women in Tech enter the stage playing their role by the book. As part of this global movement, Women in Tech Cluj organize monthly meetups during which they discuss trending topics in Cluj, the so-called Silicon Valley of Transylvania.

 

“Our purpose is to make women’s work known, share our stories on how we keep up and spread opportunities to grow. “

- Women in Tech Cluj

 

Discussing the gender gap at tech conferences, the topic at Women in Tech Cluj meetup hosted by Wolfpack Digital

 

Tech Conferences - to bother or not to bother, this is the question

With a lot of tech events coming up this fall, this September’s meetup was a “get in shape” event for the following ‘tech conferences’ season. The question we wanted to answer was simple: Why should we bother about tech conferences? Are you asking yourself why was this so important to discuss? Well, numbers are showing that the female/male presence gap at some of the local tech conferences is almost as wide as the sky. Stats show that only 20% of all attendees at Codiax were women. Amongst all attendees, at Techsylvania 32% were females and 12–15% at JSHeroes.

More and more, both men and women in the tech community want to hear a female perspective. After all, introducing diverse viewpoints into any conversation adds a depth that helps us better understand and resolve the problems we all face. Still, when it comes to women speakers, locally, things tend to vary from event to event with 27% female speakers at JSHeroes and only 13% at Techsylvania. The gap between male and female speakers is still remaining an issue that’s worth our attention. 

The number of female presenters has been increasing year-over-year and the inclusion efforts are also on the rise. Although it is not an easy job to step forward as a speaker even for accomplished female entrepreneurs, authors, and tech professionals. Our thoughts? Dear Houston, we definitely have a problem, or maybe two if we are to be more realistic.

Main gender gaps at tech conferences:

  1. The gap between females and male attending tech conferences

  2. The gap between female and male speakers at tech conferences

 

About female speakers at tech conferences like Codiax, Techsylvania, Codecamp and Wolfpack Digital tech events

 

With this in mind, the event organizers, Oana Șipoș, Georgina Lupu Florian and Melania Moldovan, the Women in Tech founders, invited everybody to a panel discussion with three members from the community. Each of them portrayed the attendee, the volunteer, and the speaker at a conference. Cristina Danulețiu, Project Manager at Wolfpack Digital, was invited to share her experience as a participant. Eliza Nițoi, React Native Developer at Evozon, brought to light the importance of volunteering and taking part in the process of organizing a conference. The topic about how crucial it is to become a speaker was successfully attacked with wittiness and wisdom by Ioana Chiorean, Community and Q&A Lead at Softvision.

 

Learning from speakers from Evozo, Softvision and Wolfpack Digital about how to participate at tech conferences

 

This way, they covered up all known aspects. Guests had at least someone to empathize with. They learned about the importance of networking, public speaking, career advancement and broadening your horizons through showing up at conferences.

Each participant/attendee opened up about the real challenges they face as #womenintech. The audience came up with additional comments and questions which made the gathering very interactive, with plenty of giggles, laughs and a great bunch of women sharing empowering stories.

 

How do we choose the right tech events to attend?

We can all agree that in the tech field, whether we love being on a constant learning curve or not, we have to always be at the forefront of technology. Otherwise, we will end up falling behind. Of course, there are many ways to keep up with all the changes in the tech community. Reading blogs, stalking your tech idol on social media or simply reading a great book can easily become a go-to solution on a rainy evening. The questions come, should we really attend tech conferences? How do we choose the right tech events to attend?

Quick tip, don’t Google what “the best tech Conferences” are.

 

Project Manager at Wolfpack Digital speaking about attending conferences and in particular tech conferences

 

Why? Maybe you don’t know anything about Ruby on Rails. Or you simply don’t have any interest in Ruby on Rails. So it would not be beneficial nor fun for you to attend a Ruby on Rails Meetup. Whether you should or not attend a tech event should be a decision based on the outcome you want to get out of it. Don’t just attend tech conferences. Set a clear mission and go there with the intent of accomplishing something. It may be about meeting new people in the field, networking with one of your favorite speakers or boosting some skill sets.

So, tech conferences, should I bother? The answer is:  it depends on your goal. It ’s a hell of a hard job to network from your couch. Also, being amongst people that share the same interests as you, might very well energize you for the next following weeks.

 

Talk the talk and walk the walk: getting to conferences and becoming a speaker

Let's get back to our aim of seeing more female speakers on the tech conferences stage. The question that pops up is, how do you actually embark on the journey to becoming a good elocutionist? The first steps to becoming a speaker are going to make you feel like you are walking through hell on high-heels with an ice-cream in one hand and the microphone in another. It may be messy, frightening, but, oh, so rewarding in the end. Practice it! Reach out and become part of different local communities. Start by speaking in front of smaller crowds. Try the lightning talks as a simulation. Then go make yourself known and apply for the conference’s open calls. It’s all about starting small and gaining confidence along the way.

 

Learning with Wolfpack Digital How to be participant, attendee, volunteer and speaker at tech conferences as a woman

 

If you’re one of the ones thinking you’d jump on being a speaker right away but lack the skills, another way of getting to master the art of oratory is by actually attending conferences. Start identifying the ways other speakers do it and how they manage to connect with their audience. That’s why, when choosing a conference, it’s quite important to also do some good research on speakers, organizers, sponsors, and topics ahead of time. 

When it comes to buying the actual ticket, take into consideration the discounts which can be found on their websites. There is also a chance to be sponsored by the organization you are part of. Or just get courageous to send a well-written email to the organizers showing you got ants in your pants about joining the conference, but can’t due to the financial reasons. Go ahead and ask about all the discounts that you can access. 

 

Speaking of opportunities to research and practice:

During the event, there were few mentions of some pretty cool tech conferences that are right around the corner. So, here are some options to choose from the harvest season:

Droidcon- 21–22 September;

Codiax — 15–17 November;

Codecamp- 24 November;

Many more Technical Meetups which can be found on Meetup

 

The importance of food, atmosphere, sponsors, topics and speakers at tech conferences discussed at Wolfpack Digital

 

It all ended on a very positive note with a pitching session and a giveaway contest for 5 tickets to Codiax Conference and with participants socializing around a table with delicious raw&vegan food, smoothies, and wine. The atmosphere was defined by a mesmerizing backyard decorated with strings of light. It was almost as good as Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting. This is how Wolfpack Digital usually likes to host events and to treat its guests, especially if they are bright, strong and #WomenInTech.

 

Great Women in Tech Cluj Meetup hosted by Wolfpack Digital for the local tech community of women

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a button for a collective mindset reboot. So we should all, and by all we mean leaders regardless of their gender, focus on a culture shift. Through such events, we are normalizing the idea of successful women in the technical field. We create new female role models and encouraging women to explore their own ideas. Whoever you may be, you can hang out with Women in Tech during our next gathering. All you have to do is just join the Women in Tech Cluj Meetup group and prepare your enthusiasm.

After all, IT is not a man’s world, it’s just a playground for curious minds. Thank you for being part of the story! ❤

 

Women in tech Cluj encourages the local community to join tech conferences with the help of Wolfpack Digital

 

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