Reflections on We RISE Conference

WomenWhoCodeATL hosted the first ever WeRISE Conference in Atlanta this weekend and it was an absolute joy.

werise speakers

Check out that batch of incredible speaker-humans.

Takeaways

Here are some things that I learned:

  • If you see something that isn't right, take action to change it. Over the course of the weekend some unknown party converted the restrooms from gender-binary to gender-neutral with a few printed signs and some Scotch tape. That's change in action, my friends!
  • Speak about what you know. A topic that might seem obvious or even mundane to you could be something that someone else is eager to learn more about. Share your experience, even if you don't feel like an expert.
  • Publish at 80%. It's better to share something than to wait until it's more than perfect.
  • New moms dig conferences, too. On Saturday I was sitting in a talk about the history of gender bias in the workplace when a fellow attendee rolled into the room with a human baby. It was perfect. More new mamas at conferences, please.
  • Pave the way. It's like Jamie Harrell said, "It's not enough to be the first if there's no second." Any privilege that you're experiencing today may be there because someone else took a risk and paved the way before you. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Keep carving paths for others. (Note: Jamie was knowingly referencing a quote from Charles Bolden, first African-American Administrator of NASA, as he spoke to NPR, "Being first is OK. But if there is no second, it doesn't count.")
  • There's nothing to win by challenging someone else's experience. During Q&A for Kim Crayton's talk, there was some healthy debate about whether or not learning to code is easy. If it was easy for you, it was easy for you. If it was hard for you, it was hard for you. But, we don't stand anything to gain by arguing about whether learning to code is hard or easy. Either way, we must keep learning and teaching code. Not everyone needs to be a developer, but everybody needs to be code literate.

Thinking Ahead

Attendees left We RISE Conference feeling inspired and supported. I'm so grateful that the organizers of this event gave me a chance to share my story (oh hey, here are the slides from my first ever conference talk!), and I'm super proud that FullStory decided to sponsor. My one regret is that I didn't plan my schedule to see enough of the technical talks. They all looked amazing, covering everything from Rust language to programming for IoT, and I'm glad that speakers will be sharing slides, so I can catch up on what I missed.

If you're on the fence about whether to attend or sponsor this event next year, I'd highly recommend that you go all in. The team behind We RISE Conference put together a wonderful experience and I imagine it'll only be better next year. Looking forward to We RISE 2018!