Speaking about women in tech at the Rupy conference

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Czech Republic to go to Rupy.

In November 2012, just after 8 months in the Rails world, I received an invitation from the organizers to go to Brno and speak about Rails Girls – I couldn’t say no! So on Thursday 15h I jumped in a car with three other developers from Berlin  and arrived to Brno close to midnight to spend the next couple of days geeking out with the it guys.

What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?

The rest of the speakers board of the conference included names like Nic Williams, Steve Klabnik, Jose Valim, Zed Shaw, Karel Mináriq, Nick Fisher, Ales Komarek and  Lynn Root.  All unknown to me. All experienced developers and famous to my friends. What was a girl like me, a total newbie, doing in a place like this?

I did not attend many of the talks, partly because I felt that some of them were too technical for me, but I talked with a lot of people, I tested my teaching skills in a workshop and I gave a talk in a conference for the first time in my life. I feel like the experience was full, even without the talks. I also spent some time meeting people I know from social networks. In the last weeks I have been in touch with some Czech developers that are part of the organizer’s team of Rails Girls Prague. It was great meeting them in person and having an opportunity to talk all together. It was precisely talking with so many people what made me change my talk – upside down.

Why do men learn to code? Why don’t women want to learn to code?

I am one of these “why persons”. A radical. I believe in this “ask–why-five-times-before-you-react” thing. So I started asking whys to people, and did many more than five times, and concluded that I shall not go there and talk about our workshops structure or why we need more women in tech. I decided that that was not interesting, and the reason why it was not was plainly that it did not call to an action from nobody neither it explained the real reason why we do what we do and why we do it this way.

I had three main questions:

  • Why do people want to learn programming?
  • Why would women want to program?
  • Why wouldn’t women want to program?
  • And three questions that I asked myself all the time but did not share in my talk
  • Why do I want to help more women get into technology?
  • Why do I want to do it through Rails Girls?
  • Which is my role in all this?

This is a long lost of whys. But the conference organizers team was great and they provided me with a lot of different scenarios to make my investigation.

During the couple of days before my talk I had a chance to meet other girls that are interested in programming and knowing their motivations to do so and what stopped them from doing so before, as well as why the do this with Rails Girls and how they plan to keep coding. I also had the chance to hang out with the other speakers, mainly men and all of them much more experienced, working in amazing projects and regularly contributing to Rails.

The Talk

The night before my talk, I changed all I had and decided I wanted to share what I had learned during these two days instead – here is the result. Be indulgent to my lack of training :).

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