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Women Helping Women

Laura Lebovic speaking at Ember London in April, 2017
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About this talk

Women in the Ember community are helping encourage and mentor other women.


Laura: Hey Jamie. How are you? Jamie: I'm good Laura, how are you? Laura: I'm fine. Tonight I want to speak with you guys about one of the big successes of EmberConf 2017. It's the Women Helping Women programme. First, raise your hand, the ones in the audience that have a girl in their dev team. Cool. There's some pretty good results here [00:00:30] and we are happy to share that with you guys. So the CFP is the Call for Paper, and there were 100 total submissions this year. Over the 100 total submissions this year there were 20 from women and of this 20 submissions there were 17 talks. Eight of them were filled by women. [00:01:00] If you do a quick calculation it's around 50 percent. Jamie: 50 percent of the headline talks in the conference were women speakers. Laura: Of the six back up bonus there were four slots that were covered by woman speakers as well. Jamie: Should we talk about how it is that if 20 percent of the proposals were from women, how is it that 50 percent [00:01:30] of the headline speakers were women? Laura: Basically it means that a lot of the proposals were pretty good quality, I guess. Jamie: Yeah, so I was lucky enough to be involved in the programme committee for this year's EmberConf. The way it works is that there is a blind period where the people reviewing the submissions don't know who they're sent by. They don't know anything about the submitters. All they know is what's in the proposal. During that period all of the proposals are rated and then at the end [00:02:00] when the CFP closes, a short list is drawn up and this is the cream that comes to the top of the pile of proposals. So what that's telling us is that though only 20 percent of the proposals came from women, a disproportionate number were in that top bracket, in that short listed bracket of papers. It's interesting to think, "Why is that, why did that happen?" Laura: It's actually a really good question because, apparently, according to Leah, one of the coordinators of the EmberConf this year; [00:02:30] men sometimes submit more than one proposal. Where as women might actually focus on one proposal and spend their whole time preparing that proposal. So it might be a reason why the quality might be a little bit better guys. Jamie: I'd add to that, you'll see more of this in a moment, but one of the things that, Women Helping Women, the programme does is to give coaching on all the things that go into giving a good talk, but also submitting [00:03:00] a good proposal. So, those proposals that were submitted had had tonnes of work put into them which is why they floated to the top. Laura: This is why we want to introduce you to this programme if you don't know anything about it. Basically, what the programme does is it helps women taking the stage. We help women, I say we because I am part of this programme now, we help women land speaking roles in [00:03:30] tech conferences, but not only Ember. I want to point that out. How we do that is with mentorship, support and connexion to event organisers. Again, it's not only Ember-related. We can connect you with any organiser from any tech conference if we think you can make it. If you cannot, we support you and we coach you until you make [00:04:00] it. Our team is a team with a lot of experience. We not only speak at conferences, we organise them. This year, I had the chance to co-organize the EmberConf 2017. Jamie: EmberConf, July 11th as mentioned earlier. Laura and I are organising that with assistance from Leah and Crystal from Silver. Laura: Yeah. [00:04:30] So, again, a lot of women are now involved not only in speaking but co-organizing. Meaning that they put everything together, basically. We know what makes a good talk and what conference organisers are looking for in a proposal. Especially because women now are part of the committee that reviews the proposal, the Call for Paper. We want to help our members with [00:05:00] both help and events around the world. Sorry, and we help events around the world connect with our members. Again, not only Ember-related. So any women are welcome, and we have them spread the word. So, what are we doing to help? We do have this live hangout. I don't know if, Jamie, you have heard of that. Jamie: No, I haven't heard of it. Tell me how it works. Laura: So how it works ... The last one was actually Serena [00:05:30] Fritsch that works at Intercom Dublin and she was speaking about her experience and her thought on speaking. How she prepares for a conference, and many tips and tricks that are really useful. Men and girls are really welcome to listen to the podcast. So yeah, now you know. Discussion groups, do you know how [00:06:00] it works? Jamie: What is a discussion group? Laura: Discussion groups are either on Slack, or on Google Group. Basically, again, it's exchanging a lot of our results. How we can help each other, monitoring if any one of us has a good idea, or needs idea for a Call for Paper then we are there to help. In-Person Activities. I don't know if you noticed, but on the first day of Emberconf, there was [00:06:30] this workshop that were meant to help women rehearse their talk. I think you went to one of them actually. The one with Serena, Jessica, and myself. Jamie: That's right. I got to see Laura, Jessica Jordan, and Serena Fritsch rehearse their talks ahead of the big day. Laura: Yeah, so it was actually pre-conference, but on the first day the pre-conference activities are full of workshops. [00:07:00] Where we do some, again, monitoring, and we help to present in front of an audience. Again, maybe help with how to present better your talk. So yeah, it was pretty successful this year. Personal mentorship. Again, so you will have ... As soon as you decide to run for the Call for Paper, you might [00:07:30] have a mentor that will help you through this process. After the Call for Paper, if you're short listed, you might as well have a mentor to help you go through the whole process, until the conference. Speaking Opportunities. Like tonight. A lot of girls had recently in meetups, conferences, I don't know if we have any other examples about [00:08:00] it. Pretty much giving the women the chance to speak and share the passion, on other technical topics they have. Jamie: Just a word on that. So I think that for anyone who attends meet ups, or thinks about attending meetups or a conference. When you're new to it, you can get the impression that all the speakers, they know each other already, they're part of the community, they've done lots of stuff, and that's why they're on stage. It's so daunting to take that [00:08:30] first step towards doing it. So, part of what an initiative like this is all about is reaching out to people, and saying "Hey, you have really interesting things to say, we think you can stand up on this stage and say those things. It will be fun, and it will open doors for you, and people will really enjoy hearing those things". Laura: There's a lot of girls that are part of this programme, and some of who you may know like Leah, who is the co-organizer [00:09:00] of the Emberconf, but not only the co-organizer, she is as well a coaching member of Ember. You might know as well, Liz who has been presenting last year, and this year at Emberconf. Serena, I've been talking about her. Bear, who is doing like every year a workshop on presenting. Lauren Tan who has amazing talk as well, for the past, I [00:09:30] guess, 3 years? Brilliant women, some of them as well are running blogs, podcasts. So, there's a lot going on in the Ember women's world. The easy way to join us, is just to sign up to the group, and we'll send you an invitation on Google. It's a Google group. It could be as well on [00:10:00] Slack. You join, we are here, we help you. Let's have some fun together, as well. Jamie: Maybe show ... Can I ask you a question which is, why should people want to speak at public events? Laura: That's a good question. They shouldn't. Jamie: They shouldn't? Laura: It's scary. This is a really good question because this year was my actually [00:10:30] first Ember talk. At the bonus conference. It was not an easy way, an easy pass to get there. I guess, because of the women programme, I've earned, and I've gained some confidence thanks to them. As soon as I got the will to be involved [00:11:00] in the Emberconf, but submitting my Call for Paper; they were really supportive, and they helped me put my idea together. They've connected me to Serena Fritsch, that has helped me a lot with reviewing my Call for Paper, my proposal. Then they helped me through the process of being prepared for my talk. Even though it was not a main talk. They were there all the way, and even after. So I can just pick them on Slack, because we have an Ember [00:11:30] private channel. The Women helping Women. They are always here. It could be tech related, non-tech related, just basically everything around women tech. So, really useful. Not only for conference, but on your daily life as a woman, and as a dev. Jamie: So it sounds like a lot of it, is about meeting people. Laura: It's a lot of about connexion, because sometimes we women struggle, this might be the case [00:12:00] tonight for me. That we might feel a bit lonely, especially in our team at work. Sometimes we are the only woman, or the only woman from a big team, where they're only two women. So basically we are just outnumbered by men. Just knowing that somewhere else, in another company, there might be a team with a little bit more women, or someone who is interested to connect with you, and share their [00:12:30] experiences, it's always nice to be able to talk to someone, right, and to share your happy moments, you're not happy moments, and like friends. It's like having a big sister for me when I was connected to Serena because she has already presented at Emberconf last year. So she's already had quite an experience, and she was really helpful in telling me what should be the process; because sometimes you can find on the internet all [00:13:00] the checklists to be prepared for something, but it's just better to hear that from someone, right? Jamie: So it's said that one of the best things about giving a conference talk is that you will find yourself on stage, alongside your professional heroes, and it's just one good proposal between you and that spot. That I think is probably one of the biggest draws. It takes you ... Once you've done it, once you've given that talk and it's out there, you will be someone's [00:13:30] hero. Laura: Probably. We'll see in the future. What I've learned so far is that even though you think you cannot make it, you cannot do it, there's always someone who believes in you. There's all these girls who were believing in me, that like today I believe in other girls that will probably be submitting their proposal for Emberconf. So, I'm even the fangirl of those girls who will be [00:14:00] presenting this year. So again, it's just like a big community that is really willing to help each other. Consider that like, really friendly as well, like a big friendship, kind of. Jamie: It sounds really good, I wish we had it for Ember men. So I just want to say one thing, that was a joke by the way. Don't take [00:14:30] that seriously. So, back to that statistic we saw at the beginning, right, so if you want to run a fair, unbiased, blind CFP, how can you also guarantee a diverse lineup of speakers; and the answer to that question is outreach. It's finding all the incredible people from underrepresented demographics in your community, and encouraging them, and giving them all the support they need to submit their proposals, get up on stage, rehearse, all these other things. That's what Women [00:15:00] helping Women does. In effect, it's kind of like a patent for reaching out to unrepresented people, and giving them the means and the support to get up on stage. Laura: Yeah, there's already a few programmes that exist around that. You mentioned earlier what was the name? Jamie: This is a wider programme called the Articulate Network. Laura: Yeah. Jamie: It's about ... It's a catalogue of speakers, again, from underrepresented demographics. Women in tech [00:15:30] is kind of the one that comes easily to mind. Laura: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jamie: It's broader than that. I think the advantage that Women helping Women has is that we have a lot of shared values in the Ember community, and so we all kind of start from a common platform. Laura: Yeah, and there were some programmes that were similar. I used to be [inaudible 00:15:52]. I guess what is probably new or maybe [00:16:00] because we have all this messaging in a platform like Slack. Is that we can really ping each other, and in no time we get the answer. I don't know if it's innovative, but we do have a lot of tools to connect to each other, and it's really useful. Jamie: Thank you Laura. I've learned a lot. Laura: No problem.