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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?



ThoughtWorks offices across the Americas will be hosting events on Tuesday October 16th to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day. Check out ThoughtWorks Events for an event near you to join and network with other women in STEM careers.

I personally will be leading a break out session at the Chicago event.

I have been with ThoughtWorks for over 17 years and have enjoyed solving technical problems and making people happy along the way. I also love to travel. So life as a consultant has been great, giving me many chances to enable solutions while living in places I never would have dreamed of living while growing up, including Brazil, France, and India. Until recently my presence in the blog sphere was centered entirely around my travels. Finally I got up the guts to post something technical. Similarly, despite actively pursuing a hobby of performing in musical theater productions and having been a facilitator for a number of training classes, I had never given a conference talk. That also changed when I spoke at That Conference in August. In this break out session I will share my experiences with addressing my fears in both of these areas and will encourage others to do the same. In addition there will be opportunities to discuss why there are so few women at conferences, both attending and presenting, and if we have any ideas of ways to change this.


To register for this event visit our EventBrite site.

For more information about Ada Lovelace and other events happening that day see Finding Ada.

Hope to see you there or hear the stories of the event that you attended after the 16th.


So I am sitting here both exhausted and exhilarated after spending my weekend at a CD Summit (#TWCDSummit), an internal mini-conference held at ThoughtWorks.

One of the coolest things that I took away from the weekend is an answer to something that I have been struggling with on many a project, the README. You know, that file that gives step by step instructions for a new team member on how to set up their environment. The one that you hope is up to date, but usually isn’t. The one that if edited recently is likely to be organized but seems to drift in exponential time away from that format as those little things that were missing are discovered.

In a session on virtualizing these developments I tossed out the idea that it would be nice if we could kill the README, however we quickly realized that the goal should really be to be able to tweet your README. Of course I don’t want to be dogmatic about this, but isn’t it a nice goal to have that this file that has plagued many of us for years could be reduced to the size of a tweet? And not by writing it in some cryptic language!

I am not saying this will be easy, and in fact on my current project we will likely move to this in stages, removing the most painful things to set up first and gradually getting as close to 100% automation of setting up a new dev box. The particular solution I am exploring uses vagrant and virtual box, however the details are not as important here as the concept.

Not only can a new dev be up and running in hours (or less) instead of in days. The entire team could theoretically destroy and re-create their environments daily, or at least weekly ensuring that they stay in sync. And it is possible to have multiple VM setups, one that is pretty much like what we have for years been installing on our laptops or pairing stations, with everything running locally, and another with multiple VMs were you can test things out in a more production like layout and thus potentially uncover issues related to a multiple machine environment much sooner and with much less ceremony.

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