As a kid I looked forward to Girl Scout Camp for many a summer. My favorite destination was Camp Northern Hills near Eagle River, WI where one summer I actually spent 2 2-week sessions, one more in camp and one on a 10-day backpacking trip in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Sadly the camp closed shortly after my last time there, and as that was before the internet age (yes, that time truly does exist) I have been unable to find many references to it (perhaps I can remedy that by scanning in some memories, but right now that would be a big digression).

What I do recall from my time there was how I always looked up to the camp counselors, I thought they had the coolest jobs in the world, getting paid to go camping. And it was my dream to be one of them one day. That also never happened, as other jobs came my way and then it was time to head off to college and leave scouting as a memory.

Well, never is a very long time, and my dream was actually realized, in a very unpredictable way, this past summer when I was selected to speak at  That Conference: A Summer Camp For Geeks. You may be wondering what this has to do with being a camp counselor, and you would be right to do so. However, you have to look no further than the picture of my conference badge to see how the dream was realized. I had arrived, I was a camp counselor.

Of course there are also some other cool things about speaking at your first conference, also in that I have arrived space. It was a very empowering experience, scary as well, especially as the time of my talk approached. But I was ready, and everything went fine. Going through with this made me realize that if you are prepared, someone in the room is bound to learn something. It is not worth worrying about someone trying to prove you wrong, because 1) most people don’t want to do that, they just want to learn, and 2) if someone does, it really says more about them than about you.

All of that aside, this also got me thinking about yet another aspect of being a woman in tech. Why is it that there are so few women at technology conferences (less than the percentage of women in the field)? Are women more likely to attend conferences if they are speaking at them? And what can we as members of this industry do to change this?

I know that I am not the first person to ask these questions, still I am not sure that by asking them any progress has been made. Are there other questions, we as women techies, should be asking both ourselves and our communities?

 

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