“A conference for every React developer where women take the stage.”
I had the pleasure recently of being invited to attend the ReactJS Girls conference, which took place on Friday, May 3rd, at 30 Euston Square, London.
The sold-out event gathered 300 software engineers to learn from experts in the field of React, with one key difference to other conferences: all the speakers were female. The event was organized by YLD, who also run the ReactJS Girls community, which provides a safe space for developers to learn React, regardless of gender. (See ‘Event info’ at the end of this post for details of the organizers and speakers.)
I loved the thoughtful touches the team had thought of to provide a safe and inclusive place for all attendees, from the quiet room available for parents (or anyone wanting to have a break from the hubbub of the conference) to the healthy food and drinks provided by the caterers.
The day kicked off with one of the most memorable conference openings I have ever experienced. MC extraordinaire Eve Porcello leapt on stage with four of the days’ speakers, who were dressed up in 1990s software engineer garb to recreate the testosterone-fest that was the Microsoft launch event of Windows 95. The Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ played in the background. This was so funny and perfectly executed in every way. Watch a clip here!
Throughout the day, the talks were delivered by a mix of first-timers and seasoned conference speakers. It was fantastic to see so many amazing female engineers seizing the opportunity to share their technical expertise in all aspects of React. It was clear from the tweets and from the conversations I had with fellow attendees that everyone was inspired and felt that the event was a celebration both of React and of female engineering excellence.
Events like this conference this play a huge part in helping to move the dial on gender diversity in the tech industry. By putting female experts firmly in the spotlight, these events help the speakers to climb the career ladder into more senior roles, and inspire less experienced female engineers to keep learning, developing and growing. All this tips the balance increasingly in favor of gender parity in tech.
The conference also reminded me why I love the power of events. Communities are often created online but getting together face-to-face is invaluable for building deeper relationships, making new connections and celebrating. The ReactJS Girls conference showed this perfectly. I am already looking forward to next year!
Natalie Gray is Head of Business Development at Voxgig and organizer of the Eventprofs London meetup. She is also a tech diversity advocate, representing Voxgig as a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter and TechSheCan Charter. Natalie regularly contributes content to the Voxgig blog and newsletter.