November 17th 2018 marked the 1st birthday of LasDeSistemas, “the IT girls” community. We thought that the best way to celebrate it was to honor one of our goals: visibility. We spent the two previous months organizing the birthday event, which featured a gender panel, technical discussions, and surprises for the audience.
The people behind LasDeSistemas
A year ago, a group of four girls got together to discuss issues they were experiencing at work. They realized that possibly other girls were going through the same things, being the case that there are few girls present in working teams. So they decided to organize a meeting at a place called MU Trinchera Boutique. It was a success. The number of “IT girls” was large, and we wanted to meet each other. From then on, we held monthly meetings to build a support network, get trained, attend meet-ups, learn, discuss, and think as an increasingly diverse community.
Happy birthday to us!
“Our first birthday is coming soon, shouldn’t we celebrate it?” we wondered. The idea began to grow at the second meeting and examples of other events of women technologists came to mind, such as Latinity and GHC. We needed our own gathering, and we had to make it big. As it is our custom, we created a new channel in Slack and we immediately began brainstorming. Where? When? How? Something that stands out in our community is collaboration and solidarity. From the beginning, each one contributed their bit to make this celebration a dream come true. Some were in charge of the location, others of the catering. We searched for sponsors, and intive-FDV, our home, readily became one of our supporters. We commissioned the plot, shirts, and stickers. We all got down to work putting our efforts and heart in it. For many, it was their first experience of the sort.
It’s a Beautiful Day
“It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, I feel good and no-one’s gonna stop me now…,” sings Freddie Mercury in one of Queen’s songs. Well, we didn’t have the same luck that day: it rained and the power went out for a while. But none of that stopped us from celebrating our birthday. We assembled banners and wrote tags between rounds of mate and vegan cake, and magic happened. It wasn’t even necessary to launch any of the plans B we had prepared just in case.
Virginia Barros, Estefanía Miguel and Nayla Portas opened up the conference with the story of the community’s origin. Though a bit nervous, they were thrilled to tell how our community came to be. We were overwhelmed with emotion that day. We realized we had bonded and come a long way together just in one year.
The Technical Side of the Event
It was then time for the technical talks. Another aim we had for the conference was to show that there are women professionals able to train in this type of content, because we are the ones producing it. Every talk was impressive. The feminist perspective wasn’t overlooked, and relevant facts were shared at the beginning of each talk:
- Ángeles Tella Arena described Lázaro, a system for screen reading built with Smalltalk, a project she began when she had to confront the challenge of teaching a blind student in her class.
- 13% of the Argentinian population shows a type of permanent visual, auditory, motor or cognitive handicap.
- Among Argentinian women, 14% has one of such types of permanent handicap.
- Of all the people with a permanent handicap, 60% has a visual limitation.
- Mara Jerkovic described Akka, one of the most frequently used frameworks among Java and Scala communities for building scalable distributed systems.
The facts: From the total of 300 GitHub profiles of programmers with more code contributions in the Akka framework,
- 93% are men (297).
- 0.7% are women (2).
- 6.3% don’t specify their gender in their profile (19).
- Sol Verniers, Laura Nieves and Sandra Soto showed us their work in the project “Women Electro-digital Artists”, proving that tech people are not as structured as they are commonly portrayed.
The facts: They got a master’s degree in Technology and Aesthetics in Electronic Arts, where:
- 57% of professors are men.
- 54% of freshman year students are men.
- 39% of sophomore year students are men.
This Doesn’t End Here
After lunch, other friend communities and organizations presented themselves and their work to the audience. Even though it was our birthday, we wanted to invite associations with which we share the same vision to come to the stage with us.
Then it was time for one of the most-awaited moments of the afternoon: the gender panel, formed by Irina Sternik, Agostina Mileo, Lin Pao Raffetta and moderated by our colleague Melisa Avolio. The room was packed; people were full of questions and eager to engage in conversation without delay, giving way to a most interesting debate.
To conclude, we held raffles and Mariana read a poem to the entire community while a photo presentation was projected, which left us visibly moved.
We cut the birthday cake, said “Cheers!” and wished for many more years to come. See you at the next conference! 😉