Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'll meet you at the Ladies Room at Philly ETE

Every year at Philly ETE, I joke with some of the technical women that I know, that this is one of the few events where it is really easy to get into the ladies room.

The sad truth is last year, we only had 7% attendance of women in our audience.  My co-chair, Andrea, and I are constantly asked to increase the number of women speakers (which we have been diligently working on), but no one asks us to increase the number of women in the audience.

Well, I am starting a campaign called - A Line at the Ladies Room.  This year, I want a line that is reasonably long. I want to complain about how much time I had to stand in line.  Because attending conferences like ETE are important for professional development for technologists.

I asked my friend, long time attendee and ETE committee person, Audrey Troutt, why she attends ETE year after year.  She sent me this reason:

I make it a point to go to Philly ETE every year; I've been to a lot of technical conferences and it is the only one that I make a point to return to every year. There's always something that I learn about that ends up being useful in the coming months at work and in my side projects.

In this line of work the tools and platforms that we work with are constantly changing, so we need to be constantly learning and trying new things. There's a lot that you don't learn in school and that you won't pick up if you just keep your head down at work every day hammering on the same old problems with the same old tools. You need to seek out new knowledge and understanding. Reading blogs, wikis, stack overflow, reddit and trolling github will only get you so far. Philly ETE is a great conference for catching up on current and up and coming tools and practices. The talks are never about marketing, so you know that you are going to get intelligent, practical insight about the topic or tool.

It also helps to know a lot of other technical people because when you get stuck on an hbase problem it helps to have a hbase expert as a friend that you can reach out to. Philly ETE is great for that too because it's not too big, not corporate--it's an exciting and friendly environment in which to get to know other technical people in the region. The audiences are small enough that you can ask questions while still big enough to feel comfortable if you just want to sit and listen.

It's local, it's intelligent, it's friendly and it really is a bargain compared to any other conference I have been to of this quality. Win. Win Win. You should go.

Please help me in my quest.  Encourage the women techies you know in your life to attend this year.  And have them introduce themselves to me when they attend. I will be the one in the line.