Tearing myself away from my obligations on the east coast is not a fun thing to do, but I do it for significant events. CodeChix conferences are really good reasons for me to do so.
Like many women who have established themselves in tech for quite a while, I disrupt my schedule, and even travel great distances, to learn. I want learning experiences where, if I pay a bit to attend, I have the guarantee that the material will be highly technical, and that my personal information is not being monetized without my knowledge or consent. I very happily forego free events which feel like marketing ploys, don’t protect my privacy, or don’t offer highly technical content. I turn down invitations to such events on a regular basis.
Much like when I buy coffee, buying a ticket to a women’s tech event means I won’t feel good about it unless it is single-origin, locally grown, and supports the local community in grassroots ways. Large organizations raising millions to try and figure out how to monetize this model won’t get my money or attention. Volunteers obliviously doing the hard work while paid staff reap the benefits and plot parallel for-profit business ventures is not something you’ll ever see in CodeChix. It is a pure of heart, high-tech, low fluff, zero bullshit organization, whose sole mission is to provide mid to senior level female techs with solid learning content. This is rare, and very desperately needed in our tech communities.
Mid to senior level female geeks who do what they do for the sheer love of tech itself tend to be, well, “geeks” in the best sense of the term. They don’t like to waste time, they appreciate privacy, and they thrive on learning. Parties, drinks, happy hours, free intros with marketing material, and recruiting events just aren’t good lures for such people. Large organizations where “following the money” reveals something resembling an Amway pyramid scheme isn’t appealing at all for many highly skilled women in tech. They are usually well educated consumers, conscious of the source, and wanting to fully understand and feel good about the structure of what they support. Good wifi and collaborative high-level classes hosted by and in support of members of their community are the types of events which will draw such techhies.
The second of these impressive events hosted by CodeChix, called DevPulseCon, delivered once again. I flew to the west coast a second time since November, and attended this event with high expectations, all of which were met. The event was well organized, the volunteers were incredibly psyched about their material and tasks, and the material was very high tech, yet presented in a palatable form. All teachers and TAs were capable of answering advanced questions on the material in a down-to-earth, non high-brow manner, and were patient enough to properly pace themselves and present difficult topics in coherent ways.
The organizer, Rupa Dachere, is articulate, sharp, and well organized, not just scratching her own itch to learn at her advanced level, but doing so for an entire community of like-minded and similarly-skilled women. It’s a lot to pull off. Many women-centric tech organizations try to achieve this level of complexity and success. Rupa does this quite well, where most others fail. Of course it’s no surprise that she has a dedicated team of excellent volunteers. Like draws like. There’s no mystery or drama regarding where the money comes from and goes in this organization. Funds are raised for the event, the event is well executed with zero commercialism and fluff, and the community benefits. End of story. It’s quite easy to feel good about supporting this effort.
I look forward to CodeChix future events, and plan to disrupt my schedule to attend as many as possible.