Speaking at LWC London 2013

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After speaking at Adobe MAX in May and Scotch on the Rocks in June earlier this year I needed a bit of a pause on the speaking front. I’d started a new contract, work was becoming incredibly busy, and I’d started getting lots of speaking doubts around the time of Scotch which had made for some sleepless nights. I was actually contacted about a brilliant opportunity shortly after, which part of me is still kicking myself for not going after, but I felt I needed to focus on the day job and come back to speaking later once I had some better formed ideas.

Naturally as my contract started to move towards its end and I started planning how to spend the next bit of my year, I got the itch. I found the call for speakers for Ladies Who Code 2013, and decided to submit an abstract that I’d come up with on one of my many tedious train commutes. Very happily I got an email last week saying that it had been accepted, so here I am doing one last conference in 2013.

On the whole ‘Ladies’ element…

As this is a conference aimed at supporting women in technology, I kind of wanted to say something on that front. Those who know me will say that I’m generally not really big on gatherings or organisations that are aimed at gender, not because I disagree with them in principle, but because it’s usually not something I personally choose to seek out. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t care whether you’re male, female, or somewhere in between – if you’re a nice person and you do your job well then I’ll spend time with you regardless. I don’t usually feel the need to go to meetups based on me being a girl, because quite honestly I don’t see it as being a ‘thing’, any more than I see any of  my other similarities or differences as bonding me to others. If I’m interested in an event or what someone has to say, then I’ll go.

What I have seen over the last year however, are some particularly nasty examples which have helped to highlight how women sometimes get a rough deal in the industry. Like others, I’ve worried that this is off-putting to newcomers, or that younger girls may be less inclined to attend public events, much less put themselves on a stage. Since I started as a developer the majority of my friends have been male and I’ve never had any problems attending any kind of tech events, however that doesn’t mean that it’s the same for everyone. If there are people out there who feel more comfortable attending female-focused events, then great. I chose LWC because I feel that it’s an event which hopefully fosters a great, welcoming atmosphere, and because the invitation of “Absolutely everyone is welcome to come and join” matches my view. If you enjoy actively seeking out members of your own gender who work in the same field, then brilliant – come and join in a day where you can hang out with likeminded people, or hopefully you’ll see that you’re not alone and be inspired to put yourself out there too. If you’re a guy, or are don’t really care either way, then come along if you feel that the topics are of interest. Hopefully they will be!

My session

The talk I’m giving is around a topic that has been bugging me for a while. Everything changes so fast in this industry, and sometimes our careers end up taking us down roads that may not be where we always want to be. My talk aims to show how you can supplement your learning and your experiences through a process that I call ‘mini hacks’ – small, self-contained explorations which are intended to be about playing as much as the end result. The official synopsis is below:

We all lead such busy lives, yet the rollercoaster of technological change is a crazy ride to keep up with. In this talk we’ll explore how the concept of ‘mini hacks’ – small, contained explorations and side projects – can help to keep our skills up to date and help us play with code that we may not otherwise get an opportunity to develop during our day jobs.

We’ll discuss why such undertakings can be worthwhile, how you can fit them into your life, and go through some ideas for concepts and ways to get involved.

It should be a fun session and hopefully will get you thinking of new things to play with, so please do come along and say hi!

More information about the event itself is available here: http://www.ladieswhocode.com/2013/

Tickets are available on the Lanyrd page here: http://lanyrd.com/2013/lwc/