Women in Tech 2016 @ University of Birmingham
This weekend I attended and spoke at the the Wit@UoB conference, I have nothing profound to say about the experiance, just going to share what happened and my general thoughts on the event.
Views expressed in this article are mine. They do not represent the views of Rolls-Royce PLC, of which I am an employee.
Ruth Mills, openly transgender female technologist, super clever engineer, and generally all round great person, spoke at WiT Birmingham last year as a transwomen in tech.
This yeah, the organisers of WiT birmingham (oSTEM, CSS and WISE ) once again reached out to Trans-Code looking for a transfemale speaker.
Being the over enthusiastic person I am, I jumped at the oppertunity to go and meet some wonderful people and hopefully make a difference to somone’s life.
My choosen talk topic, in contrast to several other speakers at the conference, was not ‘This is how I made it into the tech world’ story — but a practical talk that the audiance of 80% university students could come away from having learned something.
Practical Herding of Cats — Getting the most out of University group projects.
The aim of this talk was to bring together things that I’ve learned from working in quite a few different professional enviroments, and things that I’ve learned from ending up as project lead on university group projects. The end result, was a set of tools and advice on how to work well with other students in a group project. Hopefully allowing people to faster progress their careers in technology when they’re done with university.
Initially I was really excited about giving the talk. I thought I really do have a unique experiance, having both working in several different professional enviroments, and also being a 20 year old uni student like most of the audiance.
However, upon seeing the schedule filled with either talks from #BigCorp sponsors of the event, or established Women in Tech talking about how they got to where they are, I got quite nervous about what I was talking about was what the audience actually wanted to hear.
To my surprise — I gave my talk, and people seemed to love it.
Practical Herding of Cats was a success! After the talk we had a bit of a break — and I had so many people come up and talk to me about how useful it had been to them.
As expected there were a lot of university students there, so I’d targeted my talk at exactly the right demographic of people.
That also meant that there were a lot of people there who were soon to start, or in the midst of a group project.
During the break I could hardly move from talking to people about the talk, Rolls-Royce and generally other things related to what I, or the person did.
I’m in no way exaggerating, no sooner had I finished talking to one person than another came up to me.
Many people wanted to know about how Rolls-Royce was, how to apply, what job oppertunities there were. It was super nice that people seemed passionate about working for the company I work for. I also got to shout about how much of an effort Rolls-Royce are making to diversify their workforce — with initiatives like the Womans Network, and Prism, the LGBT+ network.
Many other people wanted to tell me how much they identified with what the experiance of working with other students is. You don’t want to end up project lead, but somehow you become it. You have to deal with lack of knowledge, people not turning up and not completing work.
so I’d guessed right! My knowledge of professional practices as well as knowing what its REALLY like for university studes was super useful to people.
I even had several masters students attending and thank me for the talk, saying its helped them. Masters students! Appreciating my thoughts! I don’t even have my degree yet!
The rest of the conference was an absolute blast.
All the other talks and workshops were great, I even learned things in the #BigCorp talks from Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.
(Weirdly, speakers from both Goldman and Accenture caught me near the end of the conference and thanked me for asking great questions of them. I didnt even know thats something you could be thanked for!)
Most importantly to me, the people I met were amazing.
Jess Pattinson, organiser of WiT Nottingham, a Women in Tech meetup gave her first talk ever and was brilliant.
It was also great to get to spend so much time with her at the weekend, since we havent had much chance previously. She’ll disagree with me, but shes an inspiration.
A similar story for Tom Goodman, BCS Committee member and important doer in the Hackathon space. We’d met at Hackference Birmingham but didnt really talk that much. Spent a lot of time with him Saturday and enjoyed every minute of it.
There were so many other people that I met too, I can’t possibly list all of you. But if we spoke at ALL during that day. You made me really happy. Thank you!
Of course, we can’t leave out the organisers. Kitty and Edna, as I understand were primary organisers of the conference, with many many supporting hands. they did a great job of what I know is a very tough thing to do, even when you dont have university work weighing you down too. I’m so honored to have been allowed to be a part of a great event.
All in all — A fantastic day.
I not only had a great time in general, but it was really great for me to have been able to provide value to other people’s lives, and to be thanked for that.
I often worry about being good enough, or if its even worth me being alive. Doing events like this really help me feel happy that I’m doing the right thing, and that its worthwhile doing.
Would speak again.