DevPulseCon: It Gets Better Each Time—by Gloria W

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Tearing myself away from my obligations on the east coast is not a fun thing to do, but I do it for significant events. CodeChix conferences are really good reasons for me to do so.

Like many women who have established themselves in tech for quite a while, I disrupt my schedule, and even travel great distances, to learn. I want learning experiences where, if I pay a bit to attend, I have the guarantee that the material will be highly technical, and that my personal information is not being monetized without my knowledge or consent. I very happily forego free events which feel like marketing ploys, don’t protect my privacy, or don’t offer highly technical content. I turn down invitations to such events on a regular basis.

Much like when I buy coffee, buying a ticket to a women’s tech event means I won’t feel good about it unless it is single-origin, locally grown, and supports the local community in grassroots ways. Large organizations raising millions to try and figure out how to monetize this model won’t get my money or attention. Volunteers obliviously doing the hard work while paid staff reap the benefits and plot parallel for-profit business ventures is not something you’ll ever see in CodeChix. It is a pure of heart, high-tech, low fluff, zero bullshit organization, whose sole mission is to provide mid to senior level female techs with solid learning content. This is rare, and very desperately needed in our tech communities.

Mid to senior level female geeks who do what they do for the sheer love of tech itself tend to be, well, “geeks” in the best sense of the term. They don’t like to waste time, they appreciate privacy, and they thrive on learning. Parties, drinks, happy hours, free intros with marketing material, and recruiting events just aren’t good lures for such people. Large organizations where “following the money” reveals something resembling an Amway pyramid scheme isn’t appealing at all for many highly skilled women in tech. They are usually well educated consumers, conscious of the source, and wanting to fully understand and feel good about the structure of what they support. Good wifi and collaborative high-level classes hosted by and in support of members of their community are the types of events which will draw such techhies.

The second of these impressive events hosted by CodeChix, called DevPulseCon, delivered once again. I flew to the west coast a second time since November, and attended this event with high expectations, all of which were met. The event was well organized, the volunteers were incredibly psyched about their material and tasks, and the material was very high tech, yet presented in a palatable form. All teachers and TAs were capable of answering advanced questions on the material in a down-to-earth, non high-brow manner, and were patient enough to properly pace themselves and present difficult topics in coherent ways.

The organizer, Rupa Dachere, is articulate, sharp, and well organized, not just scratching her own itch to learn at her advanced level, but doing so for an entire community of like-minded and similarly-skilled women. It’s a lot to pull off. Many women-centric tech organizations try to achieve this level of complexity and success. Rupa does this quite well, where most others fail. Of course it’s no surprise that she has a dedicated team of excellent volunteers. Like draws like. There’s no mystery or drama regarding where the money comes from and goes in this organization. Funds are raised for the event, the event is well executed with zero commercialism and fluff, and the community benefits. End of story. It’s quite easy to feel good about supporting this effort.

I look forward to CodeChix future events, and plan to disrupt my schedule to attend as many as possible.

How I got my salary hike - Julie Nelson

At a CodeChix  conference, I heard that women often sell ourselves short in the workplace. Someone in a keynote talked about how men always apply for jobs that are beyond their skill set and that they always negotiate for a better salary. The speaker advised us to start thinking differently about our skills and what we are capable of doing, and reminded us that we are worth more than we are offered. I took that advice to heart.

When I got laid off a couple of years ago, I looked for jobs that were a bit of stretch for me and applied for those. I was hired at Stanford doing a job that I am definitely qualified to do but that also required that I step out of my comfort zone and wing it occasionally when something required of me wasn't quite in my wheelhouse. I've learned a lot and have been very successful, becoming a critical part of the team.

As for salary, the initial salary offering was well below what I was expecting and what I had been making before. I negotiated a $20k increase in my starting salary. I wasn't eligible for a salary increase in my first year, so the first increase was to come at about the 18th month of my employment. The raise I was given was well below what I deserved, and even further below even a basic cost-of-living increase. I expressed my disappointment to my manager and reminded her that I hadn't received a raise last year because I was a new employee.

She acknowledged that she had forgotten that I hadn't received any salary increases for 18 months and she did some research and discovered that my salary was below the average for other people at Stanford doing similar work. She went to her management team and asked for a correction and I got a very generous salary increase.

It definitely pays to have confidence in yourself and your abilities and to remind others that those abilities are worth rewarding.

On this particular International Women’s Day

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First published March 2017

This is a very special International Women’s Day.  It is unlike any other in history.

While we have made tremendous progress in breaking barriers and venturing into “forbidden” fields of research, development and engineering, we are in a world that is about as unpredictable as we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

Today, women are facing unprecedented hurdles on every front – hurdles that we had fought and conquered well in the past.  Hurdles that our predecessors had sacrificed their lives and families for.  Hurdles that none of us had thought would rise from the ashes to take new form and confront us like a vengeful demon.

And because we are faced with these unprecedented challenges on this particular International Women’s Day, I want to say that we, at CodeChix, will continue to pursue our mission and persevere through these difficult times.

One day, I hope that I will not have to celebrate a special “International Women’s Day”.  That, everyday will be special for women.  That, one day, we will celebrate an “International Equality Day” to recognize and internalize an equal footing for both men and women in the workplace, at home and in the community.

To all the formidable, strong, fighters (both women and men) who fought for our rights, our freedom of choice and independence of lifestyle and thought, I hope that we will overcome the formidable hurdles in our way once more and prevail.

The path is long and brutal.  And completely worth fighting for.  For ourselves and the generations that are watching and learning from us.  For our future leaders.  We must stand together and lead the way through our actions.  Every little bit counts.

May the code be with you.  Today and always.

  • Rupa Dachere

    • Founder and Executive Director

DevPulseCon: By Women, For Women—by Bridget McErlean

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Saturday, April 23, saw the return of the Bay Area’s only highly technical conference that is organized by women, for women. DevPulseCon, presented by CodeChix, was a fantastic and inspirational gathering of technical women from a variety of backgrounds and stages in their careers.

The day opened with a celebration of the progress that CodeChix has made over the last year. It was made clear just how important events like DevPulseCon are when we were reminded of the startling fact that the dropout rate for women in engineering is increasing and is now over 50%. CodeChix aims to reverse this trend by helping women stay up-to-date with their technical skills, provide advice and support for career advancement, and improve cultural environments which encourage a more diverse workforce. DevPulseCon delivered on these aims and more.During the morning’s panel session, attendees received a wealth of information on strategies to progress up the technical career ladder. The overarching theme of the discussion was definitely the importance of gathering evidence. When planning for a promotion, we should start the conversation with our managers early and set clear, tangible goals that can be reviewed frequently so evidence can be collected to make the most of our performance reviews. Gathering evidence is also crucial for salary negotiation. Titles and associated salaries don’t always match, so it’s important to know what the market rate is for someone in our position with our skillset. By interviewing regularly, even if you’re not looking for a new job, you’ll get an idea of how your skills are valued and also find out which areas you should focus and improve on.

Following the panel session, there was a fantastic selection of technical talks offered and it was difficult to choose which to attend!

Te-Yuan Huang from NetFlix discussed the complexities of what happens behind the scenes when you do something as simple as pushing the “Play” button, from the importance of video encoding to support multiple devices, to designing a Content Delivery Network and pushing content as close to users as possible. All of this is done to ensure the best user experience for their customers.

Neelima Mukiri from ContainerX taught us about how to develop a clear strategy when debugging and how defining the problem clearly can make a huge difference when tackling issues in complex software. By collecting data and tracking all changes and effects, you can reduce the pain of debugging and solve the problem sooner.

I was really fortunate to be able to present alongside Madhuri Yechuri as she told us about her experiences of contributing to open source projects and how building up a portfolio of contributions can help you learn a variety of new technical skills. Myself and Madhuri led the group in learning about how to fork a project on GitHub, create pull requests, and make their first open source contributions.

The afternoon workshops covered two exciting and popular technologies, Docker and Node.js. I opted to attend Anne Holler’s Node.js workshop and it was a fantastic learning experience. Although I had had some experience with Node.js, it was really valuable to learn more in-depth details about the JavaScript language, and the best practices in developing Node.js applications.

The final panel session of the day covered the topic of preparing for technical interviews. The panelists discussed the top things they look for when interviewing candidates such as excitement from a candidate about what they’ve worked on and contributed to, how motivated they are, and how quickly they can adapt and learn. It’s also important to stay up-to-date with current technologies and to care enough to have opinions on technologies that you use.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and I’m so glad that I was able to attend. It was inspiring to be among such a large group of talented engineers with a wealth of experience that I could learn from. I’m feeling ready to unleash the engineer within me! 🙂

DevPulseCon: Unleash the Engineer Within You—by Blythe Cairnes

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We’ve all been to conferences where you’re constantly being hounded by recruiters and getting pitched products you’ll never use. DevPulseCon is different, it is truly a hyper-technical conference for women engineers with high quality content packed into every minute.

The morning started out with Rupa Dachere, the President and Founder of CodeChix, greeting the attendees with an opening talk. She detailed the grim fact that nearly half of the women engineers on the technical ladder would leave the their career trajectory over the next two to three years, due to the lack of opportunities and promotions that are normally reserved for their male counterparts. CodeChix was founded with this in mind and aims to turn these numbers around through technical education, advocacy and mentorship…and events like DevPulseCon.

The introduction was followed by the first panel discussion of the day: Hurdles on the Technical Career Ladder. The audience was incredibly engaged and most of the questions to the panelists came from them! I had never been to any event where the attendees opened up so quickly and candidly.

The concurrent technical talks began after the panel and included: Netflix streaming, debugging, data science, Swagger, Electron, open source, and more. The presenters all had an incredible energy and fed off of the enthusiasm from the attendees. Even in switching rooms in between talks, everyone excitedly shared what they had just learned.

Lunch was buzzing with new connections being made, as people stepped away from their laptops for a brief period to socialize.

The afternoon went straight into workshops, with a even distribution between Docker and those learning Node. Instructors for both workshops were thorough and gave plenty of coding exercises to ensure that the students gained a solid understanding of their subjects in the condensed timeframe.

The final panel talk of the day was on technical interviewing. The panelists all gave deep insight into what they look for in candidates and how they approach the variety of technical and non-technical challenges along the way.

Overall, this was the perfect sized conference. It was small enough to not feel like one was overwhelmed, but large enough to expand your developer network and make new connections. The content was purely technical and all of the presenters were able to intimately answer the audience questions due to the small classroom-inspired environment.

CodeChix is now an independent 501(c)3 non-profit !

First published on June 1, 2015 by Rupa Dachere

After many years of waiting for the IRS to finish processing our paperwork, CodeChix has gained independent 501(c)3 status as of 2015. We are delighted with this news and, hope, that all our hard work will open avenues for fundraising with our new status.

We are no longer under our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives, and are looking forward to continue on our mission to educate and mentor local women engineers!

We are currently seeking sponsors and donors at this time.

If interested, please email: contact@codechix.org

May the code be with you !

CodeChix is now a 501c3 fiscally-sponsored non-profit !!

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First published Feb. 9, 2014 by Rupa Dachere

It is with great pleasure (and a considerable amount of relief followed by utter exhaustion) that I share with you the news that CodeChix has achieved 501c3 status through fiscal sponsorship.

I have been trying to get to this stage for the last two years and I cannot describe the quantity and type of hurdles I encountered in trying to do this. Frankly, it was really, really tough – similar to fish swimming upstream.

BUT – we’re there. Finally.

Our project name is the “CodeChix Education Fund“. We are a fiscally-sponsored project under Community Initiatives in San Francisco.

And, yes, donations are tax deductible through Network For Good –https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/communityin.  Make sure you specify CodeChix Education Fund in the Description so it goes to us.

I am still waiting for the IRS to bless us as an independent organization (they take two years to just look at the paperwork), but, in the meantime, we have a fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives who has accepted my application and, so, we are now 501c3 qualified. Yaaay !!

One of the hurdles to getting to this stage was to raise a minimum of $25K in funding. We raised $5K through our Indiegogo campaign and that wasn’t enough (Thank you to all who donated ! Your perks should be coming soon.). I was going to fund the rest of it from my own pocket (the dwindling Bank of Rupa), but, I am expecting a corporate donation that has been promised and that will carry us for this year. Another Yaaay !!

We really need tech companies to sponsor us and be corporate sponsors, so we can continue to be trailblazers. We are the only tech-women-targeted non-profit to take on the challenge of the alarming dropout rate of women engineers on the technical ladder at tech companies across all industry regardless of technology. And to focus on TECHNICAL events and promoting awesome technical women who are being overlooked and unappreciated. And to be inspirations to the next generation of fresh college graduates as well as women returning to the industry who may or may not know what they are getting into and feel abandoned/isolated in these tough environments.

So, if you work at a company that has a foundation and/or matches donations, please put our name forward so we can get some financial support. If you need more info, email me directly at rupa at codechix dot org. If your company uses EasyMatch, please add us as the following organization. This way, your donation has twice the impact.

Community Initiatives / CodeChix Education Fund

Thank you for being our supporters and for volunteering with us. Stay tuned for announcements on our upcoming events !!! See you all there !

May the code be with you…

– Rupa

Star-Trek-like LED lights

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First published on Nov. 12, 2013 by Rupa Dachere

[ Grace Hopper Conference India Nov. 14, 2013 – Getting your Hands Dirty with the RaspberryPi ]

Notes for replicating the project for Blinking LED’s in a sequence (like Star Trek main bridge)

Hardware

Rpi Model B
Rpi power adapter
Connection to laptop so that you can ssh to the Rpi (wired or wireless)
Breadboard (medium size)
3 LEDs (see picture)
3 1K resistors
4 Female to Male Jumper wires (get some extra if you can)
4 Male to Male Jumper wires (get some extra if you can)

Step-by-Step setup

IMPORTANT: Make sure you COUNT the pins correctly. Also, make sure you are careful with where the pins go on the breadboard. It’s hard to see sometimes and you might be off by one if you’re not careful. So, it’s always good to double check.

On the Rpi, do “pip install RPi.GPIO” – you need this library to make life easier
On the breadboard, on either side, you will see 2 long, marked lines of holes that go down the entire board. One line of holes is marked with “+” and the one next to it is marked with “-”. The “+” is for power and the “-” is for ground.
Take a Black female-male jumper and connect the pointy end to the first hole on the breadboard where you see “-”. What this does is make that particular series of holes “-”, i.e., ground. So, you can tap off of any of these holes to get access to ground without having to put a whole bunch of jumpers directly on the Rpi.
Now that we have a set of holes which are grounded on the breadboard, take a male-male jumper and connect one of the grounded holes to a different hole on one of teh regular breadboard holes. Best to see the pictures below.
When connecting the LED’s, the “longer” pin on the LED goes to power. The “shorter” pin goes to ground.
For the 3 LEDs I used, I used the following pins: 7, 11 and 15. See image below for counting the pins so you can connect to the correct ones.
If things don’t work, it’s almost always the wiring. Re-check all your connections.
GPIO pin layout for Rpi Model B

Connecting the GPIO pins to the LED with resistors in series
Connections on the Rpi (right to left) – Red (Pin 7), Orange (Pin 11), Yellow (Pin 15), Black (last Pin on that side which is ground)

Black wires are ground wires.

Make sure the two legs of the resistors are on different lines

Additional notes:
1. Get the RPi board revision: GPIO.RPI_REVISION
2. Get the Rpi.GPIO version: GPIO.VERSION

Basic (rough) code to test out your Star Trek-like LED Blinking lights (sequential)

#!/bin/python

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time

PIN_1 = 7
PIN_2 = 11
PIN_3 = 15

# setup GPIO pin reference model. We use the BOARD method so we can access the pins on the P1 header.
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)

def star_trek(pin1, pin2, pin3):

# setup the GPIO pin as an Input or Output
# for the purposes of this workshop, all the pins are setup as Output
GPIO.setup(pin1,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(pin2,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(pin3,GPIO.OUT)

#write to the GPIO pins to indicate when to turn
#which pin on (high) or off (low)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.LOW)

time.sleep(.5)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.LOW)

time.sleep(.5)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.HIGH)

time.sleep(.5)

#cleanup all channels and reset
GPIO.cleanup()

#light up the LED’s in a sequence for 50 interations
for i in range(50):
star_trek(PIN_1, PIN_2, PIN_3)

”’
GPIO.setup(PIN_1,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(PIN_2,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(PIN_3,GPIO.OUT)

for i in range (100):
if (i % 2):
GPIO.output(PIN_1, GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(PIN_2, GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(PIN_3, GPIO.LOW)

else:
GPIO.output(PIN_1, GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(PIN_2, GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(PIN_3, GPIO.HIGH)

time.sleep(.2)

GPIO.cleanup()
”’