WOMEN WHO CODE CONNECT 2017: Conference Voices

All images are © 2017. Roberta Guise.

The Women Who Code CONNECT 2017 conference floor was abuzz with energy and excitement as a collective mix of talented engineers from every facet and level of the industry converged to share, to teach, to learn, and ultimately connect at the premier technical event.

What follows are the voices, stories, and takeaways of some of those who attended this event.


Elysia Lock and Karlin Kappala presented the Sous Chef project, a Hololens cooking application.
Project video demo here: http://bit.ly/2pj0nHx

© 2017. Roberta Guise.

Elysia LockWWCode Chicago

Elysia is a solution architect at Slalom, and a mentor to women and middle school children.

In high school, Elysia loved math and science, and her web teacher encouraged her to get a degree in Computer Science. However she was teased for being too “nerdy” and many influential people in her life including her grandfather and another teacher at her school said disparaging things that made her give up her dreams and pursue a degree in art education. It wasn’t until later in life that her love of tech was rekindled while playing open source video games.

Elysia advises engineers to take risks and put themselves out there. She also encourages people to continue supporting female engineers, as that will make you a better mentor in the end.

© 2017. Roberta Guise.

Karlin Kappala Consultant, Slalom

Expert in quality assurance (QA)

With a background in computer science and art, Karlin’s first job was as an art teacher. Her second position: tech support in a GE call center, performing quality assurance.

QA is new as a discipline, Karlin tells us.

Do your own side projects. Volunteer and participate in hackathons. Get comfortable speaking in front of groups. “I have two toddlers,” she said, “but I took a risk to work on a side project, and to get out of my own bubble.”


© 2017. Roberta Guise.

Chris BrickeyWWCode San Francisco

Chris is an aspiring software engineer building products that support political causes. She started App Academy in San Francisco at the end of May.

As she transitions into the tech industry, Chris said she wanted a “lay of the land,” and to “cast a wide net” to understand the recruiting cycle, who’s hiring, and how they’re conducting hiring activities. She was interested in trending topics, and she wanted to meet peers and more experienced tech professionals who may be able to help her.

Biggest Takeaway
Realizing how many women build “really cool” products in their spare time. One product she noted was software to make Amazon’s Alexa do things like capture and tell stories. She loved hearing about a virtual reality app for the kitchen that she thought would be great for those new to the kitchen or cooking.

Chris learned so much she vowed to attend another CONNECT conference. Her favorite sessions were on virtual reality, especially career opportunities. She also noted the value in hearing others talk about their experiences. It made her feel more confident in her ability to succeed.

© 2017. Roberta Guise.

Karen FonthalWWCode San Francisco

Karen aspires to be a software engineer that bridges the gap between healthcare and engineering. She is particularly interested in finding a way to grow the quality of the patient experience, a field known as health informatics.

Karen found out about Women Who Code and joined the community through Hackbright Academy.

Biggest Takeaway
Tech is growing and only getting better, and she wants to make sure she keeps professionally up to date. Karen’s thinking is around robots replacing people on the one hand, and the future of engineers evolving and fixing human-related issues. “We’re good at shifting the way people think and do things in order to meet the world where it is.”

© 2017. Roberta Guise.

Evelyn RamirezWWCode San Francisco

Evelyn sees herself as a future software engineer. She was excited to see so many women and speakers who looked like her.

She talked about being curious, wanting to network and meet people, and get inspired. The most unexpected inspiration, she said, came from Kaitlyn Hova, who married coding to music. In her presentation Hova talked about her many failures — this reminded Evelyn about what she perceived to be her own failures.

Impact of CONNECT
Today the glasses came off, Evelyn said. “I got real world information today, especially about sexism at work and how to have confidence in my engineering roles.

Career Challenge
She noted that most people have an education. “I’m 5 steps behind people in tech — I didn’t have educated parents and I had to take care of them instead of go to college. Not getting an education left me with low self-esteem.”

Biggest Takeaway
You must put yourself out there: network, talk to people, and realize that everyone has a story. “I learn new things all the time,” she reported. She was excited to find out there’s such a thing as a 3-D violin.She wants to help underserved communities, and is confident she’ll get there despite not knowing how right now.

Be creative and don’t give up, despite the competition.

About the Author

Roberta Guise is the founder of FemResources, a new nonprofit whose mission is gender equality in the tech workforce and advancing women’s careers in technology and engineering. She’s also a trusted marketing and PR advisor to small business owners, experts and leaders of nonprofits. Roberta’s opinions appear in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, BusinessWeek, Fortune magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

Originally published at www.womenwhocode.com.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. https://www.womenwhocode.com/