Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lesbians Who Tech: On Safe Space and Networking


Last weekend, I went to the Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) convention* and, much like Katy Perry kissing a girl, I liked it. But unlike Katy Perry, it felt so not wrong, it felt so right, and it kinda meant I was in love for three nights.

I’ve been to a couple of Ruby conferences before and had awesome experiences. And not to detract from that awesomeness, it’s just not the same.

The Ruby conferences were, as much of tech is, pretty dude-heavy. That gender imbalance is not my favorite thing, but it’s fine – or at the least, it is what it is. Most of the men in the Ruby community are lovely, if sometimes awkward (rather like myself, actually). 

There is nevertheless something special about being in women’s tech space, and not just that, but queer women’s tech space. I mean, holy shit ya’ll. Twelve hundred queer women and allies across the gender spectrum, and many folks of color. Overwhelming, yes, but hot damn! It was also super welcoming, and the relief and ease and joy of it was palpable. (I actually heard many people say something like, “This must be what white guys feel like at every conference…”) Even if you’re happy where you work, being with your people is different. It just is.

Being in safe community space had a really cool effect on the networking aspect of the conference. Networking is supposed to be the real value of conferences, and I absolutely see that, but it can also be really stressful. There’s pressure and strangers, and if I’m ever going to say something super weird, it’s going to be to strangers, and under pressure. I mean, I can push through it, but still.

The networking aspect was blessedly way more chill at LWT. It really felt like everybody was just genuinely seeking connections with other techie homo-types, and that made it so. much. easier. And extra fun. 

Also, Pro Tip? A conference that’s virtually all women has the longest lines ever for the bathrooms. But you know what I learned? The bathroom line is a totally AMAZING place to network! You’re not interrupting anyone’s conversation, and everybody wants something to do while standing – interminably and bladder-pressingly – in line. You bust out a simple, “Hi. I’m Utah,” and all of a sudden, you have saved someone from a solitary mind numbing wait. You are a hero! And then, you are a hero with another business card in her pocket.



*I could not have done so without the significant scholarship the conference folks granted me. I’m feeling incredibly grateful about that.

2 comments:

  1. The networking aspect was blessedly way more chill at LWT. It really felt like everybody was just genuinely seeking connections with other techie homo-types, and that made it so. much. easier. And extra fun. responsive web development

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  2. nice bLog! its interesting. thank you for sharing....
    Mason Soiza

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