Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Women at WWDC

[originally posted to the DevChix mailing list]

I enjoyed several social gatherings (formal & informal) last week at
WWDC, not least of which was the Thursday women's lunch that Alexis
instigated. We picnic-ed in a sunny/shady spot at Yerba Buena gardens,
probably about 20 of us, sitting in a circle. I really liked the bit
where we each got a minute or two to introduce ourselves & talk a bit
about our interests. I recently encountered the idea
of 'plussing' each other -- an improv concept where you focus on
adding to what someone else is doing, rather than competing with them.
I definitely saw this in action at Thursday's lunch. When one person
finished modestly introducing herself, someone else chimed in with
"yeah, but you also got blah blah award" or "you also wrote
such-and-such book". This sort of thing happened a few times. It
created a great atmosphere of cheering each other on, I thought. Thank
you, Alexis and everyone else who was present.

As in past years, there weren't many women at the conference. I
couldn't really tell if there were more or less than last year.

I didn't see any women presenters, but I heard that there were a few
in sessions I didn't attend. The presenters are frequently engineers
who actually did the work, or managers of those people, so I think
that more reflects on Apple's general diversity than any specific
disparity in women speaking.

I had one thought about how to make conferences better for
newbies/underrepresented/underconnected people. Introduce people! Look
for opportunities to connect people you know, even if you're not sure
whether they have much in common. They're at the same tech conference,
odds are they have some overlapping work. Find someone who it's their
first time at the conference, and invite them along to lunch with your
usual gang or something like that. (I'm pointing this advice at myself
as much as anyone else -- after 5 trips to WWDC, I need to stop
thinking of myself as the newbie!)

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