Not being a regular conference attendee, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Ladies Who Code conference in London last month. Hosted at the newly created Shoreditch Works venue, I was met by a friendly group at the sign-in desk, donned my lanyard for the day and headed to a free seat. Ladies Who Code was created in 2011 with the goal of creating a technical community for female developers. There are meetings in both the US and the UK, giving women the chance to get together and discuss new technologies and coding.
Proceedings were kicked off by Dr Sepi Chakaveh, speaking about her work with SoFWIReD – a joint venture between the University of Southampton and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. She covered some interesting topics, including the idea of a ‘web observatory’ to identify, collect and analyse web data to see how it impacts businesses. This talk also deserves a special mention for being the only one of the day to include a joke about twitter addiction. :o)
The final session before lunch was given by Desi McAdam, a Managing Director from Thoughtbot. This session covered what to expect when applying for a job – the hiring process that most tech companies follow and how you, as an applicant, should feel comfortable asking questions and challenging the process where necessary. She talked a lot from her own experience, both as an interviewer and an interviewee applying for places.
After lunch, and fuelled with yummy event-branded cupcakes and MacIntyre craft coffee, it was time to sit down to some lightning talks. I’d never experienced lightning talks before (a brief presentation lasting 5 minutes or so on a particular topic, with a number of these talks being given in a single session) and I must say I really enjoyed them. It was good to hear snippets on a number of topics ranging from video compression for the web to European coding conferences.
The next talk by Yodit Stanton was about opensensors.io. They are taking data that has been gathered from various sources, either in real time or historical data, and combining it in interesting ways to make ‘smarter’ cities etc. She showed an example ‘hack’ of a game set in London showing incidents of dog mess on a 3D map of the city – gross but clever!
The penultimate talk was given by Sally Jenkinson on the subject of mini-hacks. These are small, side projects with no concrete agenda other than creating a useful tool at the end of it. Or maybe not creating anything. The trick being not to put pressure on needing to create something, rather concentrate on the learning experience and trying something new. She described how we all get so busy doing our day jobs that we don’t always make use of our ‘spare’ time effectively (for example that x minute commute every day).
The final talk was given by Marianne Belotti, the CTO of Exversion. She gave an insight into the life of a CTO and the experiences she’s had as a woman in this role. Her session was extremely motivational, encouraging people to learn and hack and to see where their career takes them – and not being afraid to aim for the CTO spot.
Overall, I really enjoyed the time I spent at the Ladies Who Code conference. I picked up some fantastic ideas and tips from the day and I’m looking forward to exploring these things in future. In particular, I’m interested in giving and watching more lightning talks and I’m keen to start working on some mini-hacks to solve real world problems and keep my technical knowledge current. See you at the LJC Open Conference in November!