It was a pretty big adventure for me to attend PyCon, flying across the country to a conference I’d never attended before so I could meet people I only knew via some mailing lists and Twitter. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but once I got to California and started mingling with people, the experience became amazing.
My first night there wasn’t terribly eventful. I met up with some Atlanta folks, one of whom is a member of the PyLadiesATL group, and we had dinner. Nothing fancy.
Thursday however, was the most wonderful day. After meeting a ton of people that I knew from the Internet, I was introduced to Guido van Rossum. In case you aren’t well versed in Python or the Python community, Guido is the original author of the Python programming language. And, might I add, he's a wonderfully brilliant, funny, kind person. We talked about sociological aspects in the Python (and other programming) communities and for me, it was the best two hours of the entire conference.
Change the Future
The biggest takeaway for me from this year’s PyCon is the dedication of the Python community, PyCon organizers and the Python Software Foundation to promote a diverse, welcoming, encouraging community for everyone. This year’s motto was "Change The Future," and I have to say, I believe the organizers and the greater Python community did just that. The Ada Initiative group and we PyLadies decided to literally remove the barrier between our booths and we created a feminist hackerspace where women could come to hack, chat or simply relax during the conference. It was one of the most popular spaces in the expo hall.
PyCon2013 saw an attendance rate of more than 20 percent women. That’s almost unheard of for a tech conference. For once I, as a woman, didn’t feel out of place. I walked into a room and there were other women at talks, in hackerspaces and roaming the expo halls. I made many new friends, men and women alike.
I learned so much about Python and the community that I’m motivated, now more than ever, to go write code and contribute to OSS projects. I contribute all of this to the Python community’s hard work and dedication to outreach and diversity efforts, like those of PyLadies and The Ada Initiative.
I originally chose Python as my next language to learn because the community seems to be so open and available. Where else is it totally normal to simply sit and chat with the orignal author of the language and other ‘Internet Famous’ people? There were very few barriers to contributing and learning. I’m glad that I took the chance and invested in this community. And I can’t wait to go to Montreal for PyCon2014.