I’ve never been to Öredev before, and it really is a very impressive conference. Gathered in Malmö right now, is over a thousand developers, with a collection of speakers representing the elite of the global software development industry. The sessions are overflowing with a plethora of great advice, news and inspiration. That’s primarily why I’m here, although I could also praise the excellent conference organization, food, live music, sponsor giveaways and other entertainments.

I’d like to talk about my first impressions of the conference. As with other software conferences I’ve been too, women are rather unusual here, both among delegates and speakers. I’ve blogged about this before, and it’s not untypical. The sad fact is that the proportion of women is low, and, unlike in other industries, actually falling in software development.

I’d just like to relate two experiences I had yesterday.

Women speakers
I’m here as an ordinary delegate at this conference, but at most conferences I go to, I’m a speaker. I was really happy to be greeted yesterday by Dan North, Gojko Adzic, Pat Kua, Corey Haines and others, since they’re people who I really respect. I’ve mostly got to know them when we’ve spoken at the same conferences in the past. Of course they all asked me which day I was speaking on at Öredev. Well, the easy answer is that I was not asked to speak here. I looked on the Öredev conference website and there was no call for submissions, unlike other conferences I have spoken at like XP, Agile Testing Days, ScanDev, Agile, JFokus etc. I assumed that it was invitation only, and the track chairs would mail me if they were interested in having me speak. Now I realize that I should have mailed them to point out I wanted to speak here.

I think I just fell into this trap that women apparently often fall into, described in this article I read this week: “Four Ways Women Stunt Their Careers Unintentionally“. Apparently we tend to be “overly modest” and “women fail to get promoted because they fail to step up and apply”. So I didn’t apply, and I didn’t get a job to speak at Öredev. #kickingmyself

Neal Ford’s keynote
I listened to a keynote by Neal Ford yesterday. I’ve heard him speak before, and he is always very entertaining and yet makes some interesting points about software. It’s just a small thing he said that really bothered me. A keynote speech is supposed to set the tone for a whole conference – you have the everybody gathered, and you’re supposed to say something inspirational and thought provoking.

One of Neal’s jokes was about some obscure Star Trek reference that I didn’t get (although from the audience reaction I’m guessing most others did), that he followed up with a slide showing the top Google image results when you searched for this thing. He made some comment about google knowing that when you search for this, you’re really asking for porn. He had helpfully airbrushed out the image results so you could only vaguely see the outline of naked women.

Neal, you really didn’t need to do that. Your talk had enough fun stuff in it without alienating me with science fiction references and disguised porn.

Looking forward
There are two more days of the main conference, and plenty more good stuff on the programme. I’ve spotted a session called “geek feminism” in the “extra” track. I’ve never thought of myself as a geek feminist, but maybe I am. Having had the experiences described above, I think I’ll go along and find out.

One Comment

  1. Emily Bache says:

    Just wanted to point out two conferences with currently open calls for submissions – Scandinavian Developer Conference (http://www.scandevconf.se/2012/call-for-submissions/) and XP2012 (http://xp2012.org/cfp)