Overheard: When 30 Girls in Tech Members Flock To A Tech Conference

At Girls in Tech, it is our mission to support women in their technology careers – whether it’s tech conferences, coding bootcamps, confidence-building workshops, or finding a job. As such, last week, 30 of our members and chapter leaders from around the world were sponsored by our partner, Trend Micro, to attend AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas. Here’s what it’s like at a tech conference in 2018 from the keyboard of Girls in Tech Managing Director, a university student, and fellow girl in tech, Avni Barman (USC Chapter).

“Are you in the right line?”
“What are you doing here? You don’t fit the scenario.”
“You wear pink a lot. Are you doing it to get attention?”
“Are you pregnant? How are you going to keep working with that disability?”
“You manage technical teams with no large technical background? You are a lucky girl.”
“You don’t want to work with women. They are control freaks with lots of emotions…”

These are just a few of the comments overheard at the AWS re:Invent 2018 tech conference.
Less than 2% of the 50,000 attendees at re:Invent are women. As you can imagine, the severity of the gender imbalance issue in technology was pulled into stark focus as me and my fellow Girls in Tech members walked through the conference halls. As a woman pursuing a computer science degree and looking forward to my own career in tech, it was hard not to pay attention to these comments floating down the halls. I often found myself questioning if we are doing enough to reach gender equality in our tech industry today?
While companies like Trend Micro (global leader in enterprise security) are stepping up to address gender disparities by launching their #CloseTheGap initiative with Girls in Tech, we still have a lot more work to do.
Trend Micro sponsored 30 women from all around the world (Spain, Romania, Jordan, Chile, Palestine, etc.) to AWS re:Invent. Efforts like these are the first steps toward changing these statistics. As the Girls in Tech Managing Director for GIT’s only university chapter, I am proud to be a part of this notable initiative for closing the gender gap at the AWS conference and look forward to other companies following in Trend Micro’s lead.
With this opportunity to attend the tech conference, I was able to meet and network with executives from top tech companies, attend developer sessions, and hear powerful words and advice from thought leaders in the tech industry. I was also able to create lasting memories with other Girls in Tech Managing Directors (some of my best friends) from all around the world, as we continue on our journey to empower and encourage women to follow their dreams and passions. Meeting in person has allowed the increased potential to cross-collaborate among chapters with greater impact at Girls in Tech events, as we work together to tackle tough gender barriers for women around the world.
My experiences at the conference have also caused me to introspect. While I am certain that gender diversification makes sense for business, there are still many conversations we need to have. Is it right to select a qualified woman over a qualified man just to balance the drastic inequalities? Is our love for growth in tech creating a toxic culture that does not value the individual? Are we tapping into the strengths of underrepresented groups? How can women use their differences as an advantage in technology?
Huge shout out to Girls in Tech for bringing me this opportunity and to Trend Micro for believing in the importance of closing the gap. Can’t wait to come back to re:Invent next year!