Tag Archive for: Women in Tech

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory employees, 1940s

In 1953, a woman named Elsie Shutt accepted a job as a programmer at defense contractor Raytheon, where she was astonished to find that the programming workforce was about 50% women and 50% men. “It really amazed me that these men were programmers,” she said later, “because I thought it was women’s work!”

Wait. What?

In a February New York Times Magazine feature, “The Secret History of Women in Coding,” journalist Clive Thompson uncovers the little-known history of the women who shaped the early software industry, and disentangles the complex of web of social, cultural and economic factors that led to programming becoming a field dominated by men.

The feature is an excerpt from Thompson’s forthcoming book, “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World,” out March 26, 2019. Drawn from hundreds of interviews with developers, Coders is an immersive account of who coders are, what they do and how their work shapes our reality.

We sat down with Thompson, a columnist for Wired and a longtime contributor to Smithsonian and The New York Times Magazine, to learn more about the history of women in software – and why that history has been largely forgotten.

Software Pioneers

In the 1940s, digital computers finally became a practical reality. “At the time,” writes Thompson in The New York Times Magazine, “men in the computing industry regarded writing code as a secondary, less interesting task. The real glory lay in making the hardware.” The term software had yet to be invented.

As Thompson recounts, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (Eniac), the first programmable digital computer in the US, weighed more than 30 tons and included over 17,000 vacuum tubes. “Merely getting it to work was seen as the heroic, manly engineering feat,” Thompson writes. “In contrast, programming it seemed menial, even secretarial. Women had long been employed in the scut work of doing calculations.”

But these women were software pioneers. They were “among the first coders,” Thompson writes, “to discover that software never works right the first time — and that a programmer’s main work, really, is to find and fix the bugs.”

Computer scientists like Grace Hopper, Thompson says, also played a pivotal role in developing computing languages closer in structure to the words we use, thereby making programming more accessible and intuitive to people not familiar with binary code.

NASA Langley Research Center employees, 1947

In the ’50s and ’60s, the number of coding jobs rose sharply as companies began relying on software for payroll, data analysis and other applications. Women continued to be hired as programmers; some executives, Thompson notes, argued that a woman’s presumed expertise in knitting, cooking, sewing and other meticulous domestic tasks would make her a superior programmer. Thompson calls coding in the ’50s and ’60s “the rare white-collar occupation in which women could thrive.” But, of course, there were limits.

Elsie Shutt, the Raytheon programmer, was required by state law to leave her job when she had a child in 1957. Companies were hiring full-time female coders, but part-time work wasn’t on offer, even for highly qualified programmers. Shutt founded a code-producing consultancy and hired stay-at-home mothers to work part time. If they didn’t know how to code, she trained them. “What it turned into,” Shutt would reflect later, according to the New York Times Magazine feature, “was a feeling of mission, in providing work for women who were talented and did good work and couldn’t get part-time jobs.”

“You Can’t Do That”

By the 1980s, Thompson writes, early women programmers had largely been forgotten, and pop culture was sending a very different message: Computers were for men. The cultural model for a coder had changed. No longer a single woman or working mother, the prototypical coder was now — to use Thompson’s phrase — “a nerdy guy.” It’s a calcified stereotype that sticks with us. So what changed?

Part of the shift began happening as early as the ’60s and ’70s. With more men becoming programmers, women began to notice that their advancement opportunities were evaporating. Thompson explained what many women told him: “The time came for a promotion. The time came for more money, and she didn’t get it. When she asked the boss why, he said, ‘Well, you know, you’re a woman, and he’s a guy. And he’s going to need to look after his wife and kids.’”

As coding became more central to business operations, a demand grew for programmers who could stay late to maintain uptime. Women coders found that their bosses discouraged them – and sometimes even forbade them – from working late at night. As Thompson tells us, “They heard, ‘Well, you can’t do that. Yeah, you’re a coder, but you can’t stay late at night when the guys were there. It’s too dangerous.’ And there was also a sense that it was scandalous… A single woman working late at night with men who may or may not be married.”

As absurd as such logic might sound, these social mores created and enforced real barriers to women’s success, and not just in computer science. “One of the barriers for female lawyers advancing in the ’60s and ’70s,” Thompson says, “was you couldn’t work late at night because the male partners were married, and you couldn’t be alone with them.”

As computer science drew more professional respect and cultural attention, it ceased to be considered “women’s work.” We asked Thompson whether, if programming had continued to be dismissed as “scut work,” akin to typing or taking messages, the industry would comprise more women today.

“Quite possibly yes,” he says. “If programming had remained sort of a menial task, then it may well be that men in power would have left it to the women. Certainly, that is what many women who were around back then said to me. And they watched it happen.”

The New Coder

It wasn’t only social conventions that barred women’s access to coding. Somewhat counterintuitively, the increasing prevalence of personal computers in the home led to greater gender imbalance in schools and at work. As the first generation of personal computers — the Commodore 64 and the TRS-80 — emerged, teenagers began learning to program in their spare time. Thompson himself was one of these self-taught coders for whom personal computers became a gateway to more sophisticated programming: “I liked video games,” he says, “and I wanted to make video games and show them to my friends. You can learn a lot that way.”

But most of the teens teaching themselves to code were boys. In the mid-1980s, when college freshman began arriving on campus as proficient programmers, they were mostly male, too.

By the 1990s, Jane Margolis, now a senior researcher in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, and Allan Fisher, then associate dean of the computer science school at Carnegie Mellon, were looking into why women’s enrollment in computer science was so low.

In a study of 100 computer science undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon, Margolis found that young men had received much more exposure to computers than girls had; for example, boys were twice as likely to receive computers as gifts from their parents than girls were. Boys also received instruction and encouragement at home and in the classroom, but the same wasn’t true for girls.

Margolis told Thompson that every female computer science student at Carnegie Mellon reported that her father had taught her brother basic programming skills – but that she “had to fight her way through to get some attention.” Margolis and Fisher later published their research in a landmark book, “Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing.”

As Thompson writes in “The Secret History of Women in Coding,” “Girls, even the nerdy ones, picked up these cues and seemed to dial back their enthusiasm accordingly. These were pretty familiar roles for boys and girls, historically: Boys were cheered on for playing with construction sets and electronics kits, while girls were steered toward dolls and toy kitchens.”

An environment had emerged in which the students most likely to be successful were those who had already been exposed to coding – meaning, largely, men. And even as academic doors were closing to them, women were facing an uphill battle in corporate America, which had an increasingly specific — and exclusionary — vision of what a successful programmer looks like.

Unconscious Bias in Tech

By the 1990s and early 2000s, Thompson writes, “the pursuit of ‘culture fit’ was in full force, particularly at start-ups… Founders looked to hire people who were socially and culturally similar to them… Because almost everyone in charge was a white or Asian man, that was the model for whom to hire; managers recognized talent only when it walked and talked as they did.”

It isn’t just women who suffer the effects of unconscious bias, of course. A 2016 study showed that people of color were much more likely to be offered jobs if they “whitened” their names (for instance, by using “L. Smith” instead of “Latisha Smith” or “Wade” instead of “Wei”).

“Women’s contributions to open-source software are accepted more often than men’s are, but only if their gender is unknown.”

In its 2017 cover story, “Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?”, The Atlantic reported: “Women not only are hired in lower numbers than men are; they also leave tech at more than twice the rate men do… Studies show that women who work in tech are interrupted in meetings more often than men. They are evaluated on their personality in a way that men are not. They are less likely to get funding from venture capitalists… And in a particularly cruel irony, women’s contributions to open-source software are accepted more often than men’s are, but only if their gender is unknown.”

Ellen Pao, a former junior partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, famously filed a gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins in 2012, training a spotlight on gender imbalance in Silicon Valley. In 2017, she told The New Yorker that while women were still vastly outnumbered in tech in the ’90s, the culture was nowhere near as competitive, money-driven or exclusionary as it became.

The environment, Pao says, changed after early venture-capital firms started investing in tech. “They happened to all be white guys who had graduated from the same handful of élite colleges,” Pao told The New Yorker. “And they tended to make investments in new firms started by people they knew, or by people who were like them.” Facebook’s 2012 IPO cemented Silicon Valley’s reputation as “the place to make a quick fortune,” Pao says, and tech began competing with hedge funds and financial institutions for the sharpest college graduates – further shifting the culture.

The result is a dramatically lopsided industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 26% of employees in “computer and mathematical occupations” in the US are women. Black employees represent just over 8% of this workforce, while Latinxs represent 7.5%.

If this sounds bad, brace yourself, because the numbers are even worse at the household names. In 2017, Recode reported that only 15-20% of technical employees at Google, Facebook and Twitter were women, while Black and Latinx employees made up a measly 1-4% of the technical workforce at these companies.

Not all bias is unconscious, though. In the summer of 2017 (yes, 2017), a Google employee suggested in an internal email that women are inherently worse programmers than men, citing bogus sociobiology to explain away the gender imbalance in programming. Although Google fired the employee for violating the company code of conduct, plenty of male Googlers defended him, emphasizing the deep-running assumption among many that the programming workforce reflects a pure meritocracy.

“If biology were the reason [for the gender imbalance], it would be impossible to explain why women were so prominent in the early years of American programming, when the work could be, if anything, far harder.”

Thompson’s response to those who argue that biology is the reason we don’t have more women in coding is unambiguous: “If biology were the reason,” he writes in “The Secret History of Women in Coding,” “it would be impossible to explain why women were so prominent in the early years of American programming, when the work could be, if anything, far harder than today’s programming. It was an uncharted new field, in which you had to do math in binary and hexadecimal formats, and there were no helpful internet forums, no Google to query, for assistance with your bug. It was just your brain in a jar, solving hellish problems.”

“Shifting the Culture”

In a marked contrast to the United States, according to studies Thompson cites in his feature, women make up about 40% of students studying computer science and related fields in India. In Malaysia, 52% of undergraduate computer science majors are women. (So much for biology.)

Thompson, following other researchers, argues that parental encouragement and social norms are key differentiators in countries where more women pursue programming: “When you do find women in coding today, they often have some really good encouragement and role models along the way… They had parents and mentors who said, ‘Yeah, you should do this. This is great.’ Encouragement is a really, really big deal.”

“In other countries where it is seen as normal for women to do coding, they do a lot more coding.”

When more girls and women study programming, the concept becomes normalized. In countries where more women pursue coding careers, Thompson says, “there might be a bunch of reasons why that is. But the bottom line is that it just doesn’t seem weird. In other countries where it is seen as normal for women to do coding, they do a lot more coding.”

Thompson credits organizations like Black Girls Code, dedicated to empowering women of color to succeed in STEM fields, with opening people’s eyes, including the next generation of potential programmers: “We need to make sure the gateway [to learning to code] stays open,” he says. “It’s a big factor that goes alongside direct encouragement. You want to expose as many kids as possible who might otherwise feel pushed away from [coding]. It really is heartening that organizations and after-school programs are tackling this, because it isn’t something you solve entirely through school.”

Meanwhile, more girls are learning to code in school. In 2012, according to research by UCLA’s Linda Sax, the percentage of female undergraduates planning to major in computer science began to rise at rates not seen since the decline of the mid-1980s. Culturally, the history of women in STEM is rising in profile; Margot Lee Shetterly’s bestselling book, “Hidden Figures,” was made into a high-profile movie about NASA’s human computers, including Katherine Johnson.

But the veteran women coders Thompson interviewed remain skeptical: “What is harder is shifting the culture of the industry at large,” he writes, “particularly the reflexive sexism and racism still deeply ingrained in Silicon Valley.”

With more people of all genders flooding into the industry, Thompson cautions, organizations will need to push back against a temptation to divide programming into white- and pink-collar segments: front-end development for women; block chain and AI for men.

No Silver Bullet

In talking with organizations that have succeeded in increasing the number of women in their ranks, Thompson found that there was no single solution for gender equality, no one policy capable of reversing decades of structural discrimination.

As Thompson told us, “I asked Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher [who researched the status of women in coding at Carnegie Mellon], ‘So, you went from a small minority of women to 30-40% in a couple of years. How did you do that?’ And they said, ‘Well, here’s the eight or nine things we did.’ And no one of them was the single silver bullet.”

Thompson says that Margolis and Fisher tried everything they could think of to attract more women. “Ranging from things that seem obvious to ones that seem trivial,” he says. “And in some respects, it actually makes it a harder story to write and a harder story to read, because you want there to be a single answer. And it’s not there.”

Even for Thompson, the full story of the rise and decline — and, fingers crossed, the new rise — of the woman coder remains complex and subject to interpretation. “It’s still a puzzle to be understood,” he says. “I mean, I can tell the best story I can based on research, and the work of historians, and the woman I spoke to who lived through it. That’s how we understand why and how this happened.”

We asked Thompson what drew him to the little-known history of women coders, and why he felt their story was so important. “American society is always good at discarding recent history,” he says. “Telling stories of the heroic past is a good way to make sure we know what happened.”

Clive Thompson’s new book, “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World,” out March 26, 2019, is an in-depth look at the past, present and future of programmers. Thompson is a Wired columnist, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the author of “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.” You can preorder his new book here.

Jama Software is committed to achieving greater diversity and nurturing a more inclusive Portland tech community. We have taken the TechTown Diversity Pledge, a commitment by Portland tech companies to cultivate a diverse talent pipeline and foster inclusive work environments.

From left, Jama Software’s Chloe Elliott and Dana Medhaug.

On Veterans Day at Jama Software, we honor the service of all military veterans, starting with two of our own: Chloe Elliott and Dana Medhaug.  

Elliott and Medhaug met at Milwaukie Junior High outside of Portland, Oregon, in the ’90s before their divergent yet overlapping paths led them to Jama. Both enlisted in the military, both turned an interest in code into a career in tech and both now sit on Jama’s Customer Care team. Medhaug, a technical support engineer, has been at Jama for a year and a half, while Elliott, a community manager, started in the spring.  

When Elliott arrived at Jama, she hadn’t seen Medhaug since their eighth-grade graduation. “I saw him and was like, ‘What’s your last name?’” Elliott recounts. Once they recognized each other, they realized their lives had plenty of parallels.  

Why They Enlisted  

After high school, Medhaug walked into an Army recruiting office looking for structure and a source of adventure. Given the choice between serving in Washington, Colorado, Texas, Germany or Korea, Medhaug opted for Texas, where he was an M1A2 Armor Crewman: “At the time I thought driving a tank in Texas would be pretty cool,” he says. And was it? “Yes, looking back I believe I made the right choice when I chose Texas. I made some lifelong friendships and it was the perfect training environment for life in Iraq, where I was deployed for 18 months.”  

Elliott graduated from the University of Oregon in 2001, in the midst of a recession. She was working three different retail jobs when she enlisted in the Air Force to attend the Defense Language Institute, which offers instruction in more than two dozen languages.  

“Then,” Elliott says, “literally a month after I signed up, 9/11 happened. My friends were, like, ‘Obviously, you’re not going to go now.’ I said, ‘Actually, I feel I was meant to go. This was meant to happen.’” Elliott trained in Monterey, California, but like Medhaug, she would be stationed in Texas, where she served as an intelligence analyst in San Antonio (“Her military career was more interesting than mine,” adds Medhaug).    

The Other Boot Camp  

When their military service ended in the mid-2000s, neither Elliott nor Medhaug was planning on a tech career. “I’ve always been interested in coding,” Elliott says, “but Medhaug and I came up at a time when people were trying to figure out what even to do with computer programming.”  

Yet even when Elliott expressed an interest in computers, her high school counselor shut her down, telling her she would be “uncomfortable” in the computer science courses — despite the fact that Elliott was already taking AP math classes.   

“I wish I hadn’t listened to her, but I did,” Elliott says. “When I asked about computer science, it was like I had said, ‘I want to play on the football team.’ It wasn’t a thing girls did.”  

After she left the Air Force, Elliott initially worked in sales and marketing, but that wasn’t the right fit. “I like working with customers, but I don’t like having to sell them things,” she says.  

Elliott used her GI Bill to earn an MBA from Concordia University in Portland. After that, she opted to stay home for several years to be with her young children.   

“While I was home,” Elliott says, “I was crafting, designing. I was really interested in tech, but I always thought, ‘I’m not smart enough to do it.’ I thought the barrier to entry was just too high. But then I found this learn-to-code app. I thought it would tell me I was stupid, but once I started, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s all it is? I do the same thing when I create my knitting patterns.’ It was the same logic I’d been using all my life. Why does it seem like the keys to this industry are too hard to find?”  

Elliott’s triumph with the coding app was, she says, an “epiphany.” She tracked down every free resource she could find and started teaching herself to code. She still had more money left from her GI Bill, so she found a local code boot camp that accepted the GI Bill: PDX Code Guild.  

“I liked that PDX Code Guild was Python-based,” she says, “because I’m interested in data analysis and data science.” As soon as she started code boot camp, Elliott realized, “I need to work in tech. I love this.”   

From Construction to Coding 

Meanwhile, after leaving the Army, Medhaug worked in construction for 10 years. “I would get laid off every once in a while,” Medhaug reflects, because of dips in demand when the economy faltered.  

When he wasn’t working construction, Medhaug started teaching himself to code in CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. He also taught himself Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and began building custom websites and graphics for fantasy football fans. “I had a customer base, and I was actually getting paid,” he says. “But I never saw myself doing the backend work. I didn’t think I was smart enough. I was like, “‘Programming is way too intense.’”  

Not until Medhaug was injured on the job and recovering from back surgery did he decide to pursue “some type of coding career” full time. Medhaug learned about PDX Code Guild and went for it even though he wasn’t fully versant in Python.   

“I decided, ‘OK, I’m going to go to this boot camp and kick butt,’” he says. “Everybody else in there had experience. They all had college degrees. I was the only one in there that was ex-construction. I didn’t know what they were doing at first, but I made it through, and then I interned at PDX Code Guild for a year after I graduated.”  

“He has 16,000 points on Treehouse now,” Elliott interjects. “I’m gunning to beat that.”  

Enter Jama  

Toward the end of his internship, Medhaug was sending out his resume and going to networking events, but he wasn’t enjoying himself at those meetups: small talk isn’t his favorite activity.

Luckily, WorkSource called Medhaug to prescreen him for the Business Support Internship at Jama.  

Initially, Medhaug hadn’t been interested in a support role; he was looking for a job as a junior developer or engineer. “I didn’t know if I’d like dealing with customers,” he says, “but I do. By nature, I like helping people, and I like problem solving.”  

When she finished code boot camp, Elliott was looking for the next opportunity to develop and deploy her skills. She had never worked in tech before, and even the job titles and functions were unfamiliar to her, so she decided to find a company where she could learn “by osmosis.”  

Elliott was drawn to support because it requires a holistic vision and versatile abilities: “You have access to all kinds of information,” she says, “and it requires a generalist application of your skills.” The Business Support Internship at Jama struck Elliott as the best way to launch her career in tech. 

Redefining “Mission Critical”  

Medhaug says his Army service changed him for the better: “I used to be kind of a screwup in high school,” he says, “but not anymore. I learned to take my job seriously.”  

After her time in the Air Force, Elliott finds day-to-day stressors easier to shake off. “Things that upset other people or seem like big deals are just not big deals to us,” she says. “We’re like, ‘It could be worse.’  

“For Medhaug, it’s probably, ‘Hey, at least I’m not sitting in a tank where it’s 130 degrees. At least I’m not sitting in a skiff, no windows, can’t bring my phone in, waiting for something bad to happen.’”  

It’s not just that military service gives a whole new meaning to the term “mission critical.” Military service requires that people put aside their individual fears and personal priorities to work as a cohesive whole: the ultimate teamwork.  

“If there’s one thing you learn in the military,” Elliott says, “it’s to think unselfishly about the mission. It’s not about you. I’m not saying everyone should join the military, but I think people are at their best when they think about the mission, not about themselves. I feel like Medhaug and I are aligned on that.”  

Military service requires fundamental self-sacrifice, and it’s those sacrifices we honor on Veterans Day. “I don’t know how to explain how many freedoms veterans give up,” Elliott says. “We literally know what it’s like not to have any kind of autonomy over your person, where you’re going, what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to think. I would do that all over again. Serving my country was one of the best things I ever did.

Thank you to all of our nation’s veterans. Interested in launching a career at Jama? View our open positions 

PDX Women in Tech has humble beginnings — very humble, in fact. In late 2011, after a thrilling experience at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference in Portland, I felt sad. I was sad because all the smart as hell women went home to their respective cities. I would probably never hear Sheryl Sandberg speak in person again and I would never feel such camaraderie with a diverse group of people. Also, I had to go back to work at my IT Systems Administrator job surrounded by people with whom I could not relate to (read: there were very few women!).

Luckily I had previously arranged a first time coffee meeting with Kasey Jones at Starbucks. It was the unknowing antidote to my despondence. I shared my sadness and she shared hers. We bonded and commiserated.

“I hate my job because I have no one to talk to.”

“Why do I have to go to a conference to meet awesome women in tech?!”

“Sure, there are other women-specific tech groups out there, but their titles include ‘code’ and ‘hack’ and I’m not a coder or a hacker!”

“My co-worker just asked me out on a date again–for the third time!”

We found ourselves at a crossroads. We could talk about this for the next 10 years, or we could do something about it. We chose to do something about it. Right there, in that Starbucks, we created PDX Women in Tech (Okay, it was actually called PDX Women in IT, but we changed it a couple years later!).

Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Group

Step 2: Create a logo
Megan LOGO

Step 3: Create a Twitter account and get our name out there
Megan Tweet
Yes, apparently our first tweet was a retweet. Did I mention our humble beginnings?

Step 4: Announce a meeting place and time, and see what happens

At this point we both decided that the absolute worst that could happen was Kasey and I would share an empty bar for two hours. We had nothing to lose. In January 2012, we arrived at what used to be the H50 Bistro on Naito Parkway in Portland, OR and waited for people to arrive. They did. Fifteen of them in fact. We declared victory and have been meeting monthly ever since.

Four years later, we’re ready to take another leap of faith. Our next step is a big one. We have officially decided to make the transition from a simple community user group to a not-for-profit 501c3.

The decision to make this move wasn’t easy. You can read more about it in the letter sent to our members below. While there’s tremendous value in bringing women together to network, I want us to do more and dream even bigger together. We had to level up. Taking on more work requires more resources.

Not only are we making the transition to a nonprofit but we successfully raised our first dollar. Adrienne Barnett, one of our board members and a professional photographer, came up with the idea for a Headshots Fundraiser. Since every professional needs a great headshot, and not everyone can afford their own photoshoot, we thought this was a win-win opportunity. Adrienne offered her skills, Jama Software offered the studio space, and our first fundraiser came together. Mirroring our first event, we put the call out and people responded. In fact, it sold out with such high demand that we will do it again soon.

Today, we’re more energized than ever to charge ahead and take on the challenge of creating a more equitable and diverse Portland tech scene.

Megan Newsletter

Last month’s newsletter to PDXWIT Members


ACT-W, a conference to advance the careers of technical women convened in Portland for the fourth year on April 23 & 24. The conference scheduled included workshops (Women in Tech: the Past, Present & Future; Easy Web Applications with React & Redux; Level Up as a Leader), panel discussions and a job fair with mock interviews. Several Jama employees attended the conference, Customer Support Manager Megan Bigelow spoke on a panel, Jama hosted the conference kick-off happy hour and we attended the job fair. 

This was Jama’s first year of sponsorship for ACT-W and we kicked off the weekend by co-hosting a happy hour with Jive Software. Huge thanks to Guardian Games and Red Castle Games for loaning 200+ board games for the event! (And a big thanks to the Portland spring weather, which held off on raining so we could enjoy the patio!)




Kristina King, Jama’s Support Community Manager and conference attendee had high praise for the event, “This was my first timing attending an ACT-W conference, and I’ll definitely be back. Two experiences stick out for me. The first keynote, delivered by Grace Andrews, was about finding your “authentic voice,” and it was captivating and inspiring. Grace weaved in her personal story about trusting herself and her skills while encouraging the audience to speak their truth. It is too common to have a comment like “but you’re so pretty” or “women don’t have coding minds” weigh us down and cause us to doubt ourselves and our path. It was invigorating to be reminded to listen to ourselves and help others find their own voices. Secondly, I attended a workshop to create an LED lantern with Arduino. Not only did I learn how to solder in this class, but I also did some coding and uploaded it to an Arduino trinket to make a light change color. I’m not a programmer, but this class gave me a little taste of what it entails and left me empowered to try new things. Overall, I would suggest anyone working in tech, or thinking about working in tech, attend this conference. (Particularly if they are a woman or identify outside of the gender binary.) It was overwhelmingly positive and drove valuable introspection for me.” 

Senior QA Engineer, Hang Dao, (who spoke on our own panel last year at a Women Who Code event at Jama) was excited to see the growth of the event and increased energy among women in tech in Portland. Her favorite session was the React/Redux workshop with Folashade Okunubi and was encouraged to see so many other local companies employing the technologies used at Jama. 

Megan, a member of the Portland tech community for the last 16 years, and Co-Founder and President of PDX Women in Tech, spoke on the Women in Tech Community Leaders Panel. “It was an honor to share the stage with such brilliant and active women in tech leaders. The candid conversation amongst the panelists acknowledged the hardships we’ve faced, while highlighting the good. The most rewarding experience was seeing (and feeling) the support of the hundreds of conference-goers while we were speaking. ACT-W does a fantastic job of bringing resources, learning and connections to women in an effort to support their technical careers — a critical asset to our community.”

The conference wrapped up with a Career Fair and mock interview sessions. Several Jamanian’s were on hand to share insights into life at Jama, as well as talk with candidates interested in our open positions. The full room of attendees was promising, as Portland continues to crusade for more gender diversity (as well as diversity of all kinds) in it’s tech community. “Chicktech’s ACT-W career fair was one of the most energizing I’ve been to in awhile.  The quality of conversation with the attendees, their passion and enthusiasm for technology was inspiring,” said Lauren Espinosa, Jama’s Manager of Talent. 

We were honored to be a part of such a fun and impactful event — thank you to ChickTech, ACT-W and all of the conference attendees for making such a great event possible. ACT-’s mission to help women professionals network, grow their skills, and discover employers looking for exceptional talent is something we were proud to be a part of.