By Ruth Willenborg, original article here.
I remember when I boarded one of those really big buses at VMworld 2009 in Los Angeles, looked around, and realized I was the only woman on board. I did a presentation, and after, when I commented to my (male) co-presenter how surprised I was that we had several hundred attendees for what I thought a niche topic; he kiddingly responded, “I think they just came because they wanted to hear a woman pitch.”
If you’re working in IT, man or woman, you can’t help but notice the imbalance. So, I had to chuckle a little sitting on the buses at my first Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference, and watching as a few men came into a sea of women. However, each bus had at least 2 or 3 men. From this anecdotal data, there may actually be a higher percentage of men at SWE than women at some industry conferences!
Yes, we still have a long way to go, but after spending a few days with both the professional and collegiate women engineers, I must say what we lack in quantity, we more than make up for in quality. What an exceptional group of women, and how exciting to talk about the future of technology and career opportunities.
And a side perk for me was getting to meet IBM Fellow John Cohn in person. John is happy to share his passion for technology with all (see photo, you can guess which one is John, and I’m in the blue sweater next to him).
I did two presentations at the conference. “Inspire & Innovate: Experiences from CoderDojo Girls”, and “Revamping your skills in the era of Cloud Computing.” For the Inspire & Innovate presentation, I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Niambh Scullion, founder of CoderDojo Girls. CoderDojo is an all-volunteer network of programming clubs for kids, with over 750 clubs worldwide. Niambh’s experiences with CoderDojo and the accomplishments of her girls is truly inspiring. I’m so captivated by the CoderDojo movement that I am in the process of opening my own CoderDojo (Nov 1 in Raleigh, NC)! For my part of the presentation, I discussed starting kids with Scratch (a no-type language suited for younger kids), and the learning resources available through both the CoderDojo kata, and Code.org Hour of Code.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first SWE conference. Though the male:female ratio may have been different, the technical presentations, the astute questions and discussions were no different from any of the other major industry conferences. Just more balanced.
What will you make with IBM? ibm.com/jobs