Women Who Code Connect 2019

April 20, 2019

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My first time at WWC Connect.

On April 13th, I attended the Women Who Code Connect 2019 conference hosted by the amazing nonprofit organization Women Who Code (WWC). WWC’s mission is to “inspire women to excel in technology careers.” To be completely honest though, I’ve never attended a WWC event before. I heard about them and their conference through a developer I recently connected with. She said that WWC hosts a number of events and workshops to support women in tech, and was genuinely enthusiastic about them.

Since I graduated and started working last May, I have been looking for opportunities outside of work to develop my skills and stay up to date with the latest technology. Additionally, I have been hoping to find a sense of “belonging” in the developer community. WWC and this conference sounded incredible to me! A day of learning and meeting lots of badass professional women in the same field?! HECK YEAH, SIGN ME UP!

I purchased the conference tickets around February. I got the early bird access pass which came to a discounted price of $158.61. The full price conference ticket was $199.00 (+$11.09). It seems that if you are a member of WWC (and you can easily sign up to become one through their website), you can get a 50% off the conference ticket. It seems there are other perks to being a member too like discounts at other conferences (not just those hosted by WWC). I found out a bit too late, but I’ll definitely take advantage of the membership next year. Also, there are scholarships available which will cover the full cost, so it’s a good idea to look into those too.

The event was hosted at the beautiful Pinterest office in San Francisco. There were hundreds of women in attendance (as well as some men). A section of the office was specifically reserved for various companies to table (Netflix, Mercari, Collective Health, Walmart Labs, Home Depot… etc.), for recruiting and promoting their company with some free swag. These companies were stationed there the entire day so if at any point you wanted a break from the speaker sessions, you could easily go and check these companies out. During breakfast, I had the opportunity to connect with a woman who turned out to be a Director for a WWC chapter in the East Coast. According to her the day before, there had been a leadership retreat hosted for WWC leaders from all around the world! How awesome!

The day started out with a number of Key Note speakers. One talk that really stood out to me was a talk by Candice Morgan, the Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Pinterest. Her talk, “Scaling Inclusion” focused on the effort to improve diversity and inclusion at Pinterest through hiring, as well as with considerations in their product. She showcased a recently implemented feature which lets a Pinterest user limit searches to results that are relevant to their skin tone. Often times, users would search for a skin or hair pin, and find that the results are catered towards a specific group. In order to get results relevant to themselves, a user may have to type in extra search terms. The fact that some users have to make extra effort to find results that are relevant to themselves makes the product less inclusive. With the new skin tone palette, users are able to make searches that are relevant to themselves! How AWESOME is that? I hope that Pinterest and other tech companies (as well as me in my own work) continue to think of ways to make products more accessible and inclusive to everyone!!

The rest of the day was filled with various workshops focused on a certain topic. There were usually 3 or 4 speaker or workshop sessions occurring in parallel, and attendees had the choice of attending whatever interested them. Most of the sessions were 35 minutes long. I found this to be the perfect length; long enough that it’s informative, but short enough that people can stay focused.

I attended the following sessions:

  • Translating React by Jennifer Wong
  • Scaling Software Development: Teams & Codebase by Tutti Quintella
  • Why Cryptography matters by Amiti Uttarwar
  • Why leaders should practice Integrative Thinking by Susan Lin
  • The Main Role of Animations in User Interfaces by Vanessa Alvarez
  • Strategic Decision Making for High-Stakes Projects by Natasha Hendrick

Pheeeeew… as you can probably tell, you have the opportunity to attend a good number of speaker sessions on a wide range of topics! The talks I attended were only a small portion of the talks that took place. To be a speaker at this conference, one has to submit a talk and get selected. And… all these women were incredible!!! I learned SO MUCH. I ended the day exhausted but extremely excited with new ideas and new knowledge I gained.

app

One incredible thing that WWC did was create a beautiful mobile app to supplement the day. They had attendees download a mobile app which listed the various events and speakers. The app also had a live twitter feed and a map to help attendees navigate to the different conference rooms. Major props to whoever made this beautiful app! It really made the experience of navigating through the day smoother.

It’s clear that a lot of thought and care went into planning this conference! It was an incredible day of learning and connecting with other women in the field, and I really don’t have anything negative to say about it. This day really opened my eyes as to how supportive this community of Women who Code is.

I found WWC Connect conference to be very much worth it!! The day was filled with education, inspiration, and opportunities to learn and connect with incredible, smart women from all around the world. I am definitely looking forward to attending it again next year.


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