06/09/2014

Conference Talk: Leiden 2014 Travel Women in Technology

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Today I am giving a talk about women in technology. This is something I’ve been preparing for since I first learnt Basic at age 13 on a Commodore 64. I’ve had several amazing men encourage me in this field and even in the age of feminism and women’s rights, there is still a lot of speculation and discussion around women equality in technical and scientific fields.

As one of only two women in my Graduate program at Western Oregon where I studied computer science, the idea that more women weren’t in the undergrad or graduate program boggled me. At the same time, however, I struggled with things like Java and building Server Sockets until I would vision jamming a knife under my large toenail as more enjoyable.

My Professor at one point noted, “You can get 100% of the logic on the quiz but you don’t know your ass from a whole in the ground when it comes to the syntax.”

I preferred to study PHP, which seemed to make more sense to me than Java. I pursued Python and Ruby and HTML/CSS instead of the huge, monolithic class structure of Java. Networking, routers, the IP stack; these are all things I found intuitive and interesting whereas the standard course for most computer science majors was the single hardest program for me to learn.

I figured I was not alone in this. I submitted a dissertation proposal in the winter of 2004, which was accepted at Oregon State University, and excitedly planned the research for my doctoral degree on women retention rates of undergraduates in the computer science departments and the correlation of programming languages taught.

Reflections on A Talk, A conference, A week Women in Technology

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It wasn’t what they were expecting. I called it the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie talk. I baked in a discussion about gender equality within the title “Creative Development.” I think someone in the second row rolled their eyes.

It was probably the 8th or 9th time I’ve been on stage. It’s always so hard to begin the speech you’ve been feverishly obsessing over. The last nine months, since Low asked if I’d speak, were filled of notebooks and research and outlines and more outlines. I was a proper freak stopping a TED talk or an audiobook to jot down a point I wanted to expand on or integrate in my talk. I spent more than a few meetings scribbling notes to myself in Evernote, only partially related to the meeting topic but relevant to a future conversation I would have with myself first, and an audience second.

After a few hiccups and akward moments, it began to flow. Stats, Stories, Ideas. Youtube excerpts. Comics. Scientists. I knew all the content, I just wanted to nail the delivery.

Perhaps I didn’t “nail” it, exactly.  It felt more like a piece of art hung on the wall with a sticky hook, but it was well received. I was so wrapped up in my own nerves that it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth man that approached me for advice when I realized something shifted: They were asking about their girlfriends, wives, daughters, employees. They wanted to support their female companions, they just didn’t know how.

 

01/05/2014

She’s Geeky Women in Technology

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In an inadequate attempt to capture the spirit of a few hundred geeky women sharing advice, knowledge, code snippets, work ideas, and life discussions, I can summarize as best as I can.

In a word: Support.

In two words: Comforting Validation.

In Three Words: We Laughed Together.

In Four Words: I made new Friends.

08/06/2011

So I’m going to England in a few days… Travel

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This is pretty much how I start every conversation to any person anywhere right now. If you’re my grocer, you know I’m going to England in a few days. If you’re my pharmacist, my hair dresser, the lady who answers the phone for my hair dresser, my doctor, my kids’ doctor, my neighbor, my other neighbor, my neighbor’s dog: They all know I’m going to England in a few days.

I’ve nearly run up and down the streets naked screaming it.

“Nearly” being “thought about it once.”

I’m wild like that.

As I’ve travelled more in recent years, I am much more relaxed about plane travel. Mostly. I still grab a random stranger’s arm if the plane hits turbulence and still pray to physics that we don’t come crashing down because Daniel Bernoulli was really smoking weed when he came up with this principal and we’re all suckers for a good theory.  At one point, during a horrifically bouncy ride from NY to Seattle, the young airplane mechanic in the seat next to me went in to great detail how safe flying is. He rattled off statistics and spouted off sayings such as “turbulence is just a bumpy road to an airplane,” and “the air is actually pushing the plane up, not down” and “hey, you don’t have to be in the crash position, lady.” I still think of him when the plane starts to race down the runway and I’m looking out the window thinking, “FASTER. WE ARE NOT GOING FAST ENOUGH. THERE IS NO WAY THIS THING WIL….” and I squeeze my eyes shut as the engine screams and we tilt up up until that pocket of time where your stomach dips in to your legs. (Seriously, every.time.) I’m usually the only person that looks up with glee like an unexpected surprise, “WE DIDN’T DIE!” while other people pretend to be really interested in the Sky Mall catalog.

02/10/2009

How Blissdom helped me understand my daughter Parenting

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I stepped down off the panel, my legs shaking so much I had a touch of paulsy. I’m pretty sure the sweat on my face could be seen from the back row. I stayed to answer a few questions and meet a new client so the room was nearly empty. I was actually a little relieved that nobody was left to see me taking deep breaths and stepping carefully. One. Two. Three. Breath.

I push thoughts of over-analyzing the panel out of my head and focused on food. I need it. Bad.

The feedback is great. People respond well to watching a complete and utter spaz on stage. I think it’s like a train-wreck. So cliche and so true. Or reading the fail blog. I? Am one Giant Fail Blog.

Word.

I start to think back to those times in my life I’ve lived up to my reputation. The sidewalk I tripped on with my arms full of books in college. Twice. The time I broke my friend’s wedding decor the night before the event. The day I spilled red wine on another friend’s white carpet. The wine I spilled at BlogHer (Sorry Guy) and the glass I broke at the SMB Method Party.

09/08/2009

Change- A Type A Mom Con Story Stories

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I stepped off the plane in Seattle to a cold wind and sun. When I left, only four days earlier, summer was still raging and children played in sprinklers. However, fall noticeably bustled in during my absece, taking over the breezes and leaves, making the air chilly and my unused jacket necessary.

I felt just as different as the weather.

Four days ago I stepped on a flight to Ashville, NC. The 48 hours I spent at Type-A-Mom was a transcendent experience.

I met some fantastic women. I found some wonderful opportunities to grow and expand, both in my career and in my personal relationships. I held deep and wonderful conversations with some of my most favorite bloggers. These women, plus some new favorites, and old friends, friendly faces, and encouraging smiles, gave me the courage to stand up during the “Town Hall Meeting” and say something that is near and dear to my life as a blogger:

Be who you are and you will find companies who will want to work with you because of it. You can dress it up a touch, maybe make it a touch classy, but don’t change yourself. The companies that love you for who you are will be a much better, long lasting relationship than the ones that require changes to you or your blog.

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Photo copyright Rick of Tiny Prints used with permission

10/07/2009

Community and The Stuff We’re Made Of- Reflecting on EECI2009 and Mommy Bloggers Travel Women in Technology

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I have so many wonderful photos and stories to share about being at the EECI2009 conference. Community. The Spirit of Lifting Each Other Up. Truly inspirational.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences as of late. Blog Conferences, Development Conferences. Twestivals. But the conferences surrounding the ExpressionEngine Community is by far my favorite experience to date. I wish you could all experience this.

It’s a drastic change from the mommy blogger drama.

I had meals with the “stars” of the EE community. The Geeks that create modules, plugins, extensions. The people who extend the fabulous code EE already offers. It was like sitting with people whose brains should be too big for their heads.

But more importantly, they are people. Not overly geeky, not overly egotistical. Just funny, amazing, hilarious, real, friendly, beer-drinking people.

10/01/2009

Sunrise over Amsterdam Travel

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Did you know that if you look on a map, “Holland” isn’t there? NO. What’s this bullshit about me going to “Holland” then? Well, apparently I’m in The Netherlands which is just sort of in the middle of all the peace-keeping, fence-sitting, pot-smoking countries. And BYGOD I love it here.

I’m here on business which means I’m here representing Engine Hosting who, along with my new friend WHOOOOOZE, sponsored my trip here so that I could speak at the EECI2009 Conference.  I will not only buy them a beer but also possibly shout out their company names in the streets of Holland, I mean, The Netherlands whilst smoking pot and holding the hands of gay and lesbians.

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Bygod I love it here.

And what’s this buillshit about everyone speaking English in Holland, I mean, The Netherlands? Because the ONE PERSON I asked, “Did she say Leiden? Leiden? Is this LEIDEN?” He shook his head no, so I stayed on the train, only to find out HAHA SUCKER, that WAS Leiden and he was saying, “NO, I have no idea what you American Lady Is Saying. LEIDEN LEIDEN. WTF”