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Finding my version of "developer happiness" through Write/Speak/Code

Published May 2, 2017

As I write this, I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Phoenix, Arizona, recovering (mentally and physically) from three action-packed days of RailsConf. I gave a talk on the first day of the conference, my third conference talk of 2017. In early August, I'll be giving my first keynote talk, at That Conference in Wisconsin. Over the last year, I've written 15 posts (now 16!) for Ten Forward's blog, and have started building some open-source projects (feminist lorem ipsum generators, coming to a screen near you summer 2017).

It. has. been. so. much. fun. 

In the Ruby community, we talk a lot about "developer happiness." Over the last year, I've learned that - for me - a large component of my developer happiness centers on integrating my technical abilities with community involvement, such as blogging, speaking, volunteering, etc.

I have Write/Speak/Code to thank for that discovery.

Last June, my friend Ashley and I jaunted down to Chicago from Madison, Wisconsin for Write/Speak/Code 2016 (she's on the left, I'm on the right). We didn't know much about the conference, but it was close, affordable and focused on women in tech, so as co-organizers of Madison's Women in Tech group, we figured it was right up our alley.

Y'all - it was so much more.

Write/Speak/Code is a four-day conference that aims to "empower women developers to become thought leaders, conference speakers, and open source contributors."

Each day of the conference has a theme. On "write" day, we brainstormed blog post ideas and wrote new bios. On "speak" day, we explored the submission process for conferences and brainstormed topics we could speak about. On "code" day, we learned about open source and contributed code to existing open source projects.

The last day is dedicated to self-care, focusing on topics like being a parent in tech, salary negotiation (thanks to Ashley!) and how to move your career forward. 

We interacted with amazing women from across the industry, like Sarah Mei, Carina Zona, Naomi Ceder, Chiu-Ki Chan and Coraline Ada Ehmke. Speakers were racially and ethnically diverse, as well as diverse in their gender expression, experiences and backgrounds. Seeing women succeeding in our chosen industry is invaluable: A global study of women working in tech was released in March, and it showed that two of the biggest barriers for those women were a lack of female mentors (48 percent) and a lack of female role models (42 percent).

So being in a safe space, surrounded by women at all stages of their careers, was incredible. Not only did I walk away with new skills and solid plans for putting those skills into action, but my experiences at Write/Speak/Code gave me an empowering sense of community and possibility. I'd never considered speaking at a tech conference before, but one year later, I'm on track to speak at five ... and, bringing everything full circle, last Friday I submitted talk proposals for Write/Speak/Code 2017 (fingers crossed!). 

ALSO: Their snack game is on point.

Author details

Hilary Stohs-Krause

Co-Owner and Senior Software Developer