‘Tis the season … for conferences, that is. This is when I start racking up the frequent flyer miles and seem to have a permanent backache from sitting in airplane seats and conference sessions week after week. I also get to absorb a lot of information from some very smart speakers, listen to industry trends, and learn what the folks on the ground are most worried about these days. It’s invaluable for someone like me, where a big part of my job is feeding industry information back into my company so we can meet our customers’ needs.
And, as always, I spend time talking with people about why there aren’t more women at tech conferences – what keeps them away? Or is it just that they have no inclination to attend to begin with? I admit that I found my way into the conference circuit late in my career – for the most part, I was just heads down, doing my work, and not paying attention to the industry at large. I wish I had been more aware. I realize now how many innovations are born over late night conversations in hotel lobbies, how many professional relationships are forged during conference “happy hours”, and how important it is to know what your colleagues in the industry are talking about.
For my job, I wander from developer conferences to tester conferences (and rant about why we keep them separate). Most recently I was at STPCon (Software Testing Professionals Conference) in New Orleans (ah, warm beignets and chickory coffee!) where I had the chance to sit down with Mark Tomlinson, one of our most enthusiastic supporters and also a frequent attendee of tech conferences. We talked about the lack of women at conferences and, more importantly, why it’s so important for women to break that trend.