Vicky Twomey-Lee

Pythonista and a tech event organiser encouraging diversity in the community.

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Supporting Diversity at your event

One of the things I come across over and over again is how to increase diversity at an event, in particular tech events like meetups, workshops and conferences.

A number of years ago, I started a diversity programme for an Irish tech conference offering subsidised travel, accommodation, etc., and it was very, very labour intensive. I was going by what folks elsewhere (mainly Stateside and large European tech conferences) were doing. This includes accepting applications, reviewing them, discuss with organising committee on approving them or not, and following up with them. It’s not the best way, and many improvements can be made to make it easier on the organiser and applicants.

Since then, one conference in particular I always use as my reference point, the always amazing and friendly AlterConf:

AlterConf is a traveling conference series that provides safe opportunities for

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The Diversity in Tech Community in Dublin & Ireland

[Updated 2017-04-24] Update with more groups below in the listings, thanks to Glenn Davidson and Victoria McCallum for more info on groups in the north


I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, well since February, about all the women/diversity in tech groups we have around Dublin and Ireland.

2017 has been interesting, at least three new Women in Tech groups that I know of popped up in Dublin. It’s amazing as back in 2008, I wished there was at least one group, and I thought my wishes were answered when Ireland Girl Geek Dinner started… but I wished there were more programming groups that have more people than just your atypical coder that attend techie events.

I co-founded Coding Grace (diversity-friendly coding workshops) which started in May 2013, and founded PyLadies Dublin (Python coding evenings) which had its first meetup in October 2013. It was certainly different to

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Asking questions

An interesting question was asked at an event I was giving a short talk on getting involved with the community.

They mentioned that in a past PyLadies Dublin event they attended, there was a female speaker, with Q&A afterwards, a male asked questions. Would that make it a safe space for people if there males asking questions?

I, personally, would be fine to open the floor to folks asking questions. I thought about it a bit, and would it be better if I asked the speaker beforehand if they are ok with questions, or even find a way to help them prep? Or maybe I should learn to moderate? I raise my hand that I’m not great at chairing, maybe I am not eloquent enough to do it. And now as I type this, is there something I can take up to help me build up confidence to moderate things like this? I am trying hard not to spiral and overthink this, anxiety is fickle thing, it just jumps out of

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PyLadies Dublin at Kitman Labs

Kitman Labs Dublin Startup Commissioner Startup Fund

Big thanks to people who came along to PyLadies Dublin meetup at Kitman Labs yesterday evening, even with the mild sunny weather outside. A huge thanks to Dublin Startup Commissioner for funding the yummy platters of sandwiches and bowls of salad from KC Peaches.

The food was really amazing, this is a snap of the wrap I had with my salads, total NomNoms.

Aside from that, I wanted to update my Coding Grace website to make the admin panel look nicer so other people can use it. On my local dev machine, I initially added django-material thinking that if I just load the admin side of things, it wouldn’t affect the front end of my side, well… it did. It broke some of the layouts just on the front page

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It’s so true about sayings even in different languages

I came across this phrase:-

百闻不如一见,百见不如一干

This is in Simplified Chinese 1, if you want to pronounce it, it’s bǎi wén bùrú yī jiàn, bǎi jiàn bùrú yīgān.

Bear with me here, I’m getting somewhere with this…

The 2nd and 5th (repeated on the 8th) character is unfamiliar as I’m more use to Traditional Chinese [2] (written format in Hong Kong and Taiwan).

So as one does, I used Google Translate to translate from Simplified Chinese to Traditional Chinese and I got the following

百聞不如一見,百見不如一干

I still don’t know how to pronounce the 2nd character now, my Chinese is not too bad. :-)

So I go to my preferred site 3 for finding out how the characters sound in Cantonese, and it’s baak3 man4 bat1 jyu4 jat1 gin3, baak3 gin3 bat1 jyu4 jat1 gon1

Nearly there…

The translation to this Chinese saying is

seeing once is better than hearing 100 times, but doing once is better than seeing 100 times

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Peers - more people who inspire me

My previous article ended up listing out women who inspired me, well, I’m continuing with another write-up on more peers who are just as awesome and inspirational. Here we go..

  • Ewa Gasperowicz, who is not in Ireland anymore, but she’s super awesome and geeky.
  • Lesbians Who Tech Dublin organiser, Jacqueline Russell
  • Niambh Scullion and Sarah Doran of CoderDojoGirls@DCU

By the way, here’s the 90sec interview with me that got the ball rolling on thinking about who my peers are (it’s ultra-cheesy, apologies in advance):

This post has been in draft for quite some time, and since then I have attended this 2-day festival conference called Inspirefest 2015 hosted by Silicon Republic, and I was blown away from all the great speakers and one that really got to me was Brianna Wu, I just wanted to run up on stage and hug her. Check out the video:

And I do hope all this would be forgotten

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It’s a great day today

Ok, it’s not just a great day, but fan-diddly-doodly-tastic day for people of Ireland on this historic day. The #MarRef tweets says it all, and YES has won.

I’ve been up early (for a Saturday), and have been so fuelled with excitement waiting for the ballot boxes to open and the count to start. I held my breath (figuratively speaking) as the YESes came through, especially in my constituency, Dublin West, and my home back in Caherdavin.

It means a lot to me personally, and I’m pretty emotional about it. And the weather outside shows, with the sun shining bright, and from tweets I’ve seen, rainbows appearing around the country, it’s a huge milestone and a day to remember.

Dancing BMO via http://quirkysquirrel.tumblr.com/post/93127545713/rock-it-bmo

And I did vote “YES”! :-D

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Is what I am doing a good idea?

Last night I was at an after-party and I was introduced to someone who might have been a little bit merry after a pint or two and after finding out what I do, he claimed that the female-friendly workshops I run are not of any use to anyone. He said who would hire anyone just after doing a short programme? Although I tried to tell him that they are short two or four hour once-off workshops, and they are not programmes or courses. I’m also happy to have a back-up of a friend who’s a lecture and holds a PhD.

I understand where he’s coming from (with some thumping awesome tunes in the background), I think he is coming from a hiring perspective. Whereas I’m opening a platform for people who are curious to learn, and/or want to learn in a safe and friendly environment. I am not competing with colleges or professional training services. I’m providing a safe place to those who would normally

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Imposter syndrome

Note: This has been a post that has been in draft for a long, long time. I finally decide to finish it and publish it as it’s important for me to share about this big problem we face, that is called the Imposter Syndrome.

I never really heard of Imposter Syndrome before until I joined this fantastic mailing list called DevChix.

Don’t be put off by the name of the mailing list, it’s for female developers (males are welcome as well) to share their views and experiences and also offer support to anyone such as help with topics for a conference, job interviews, coding, how to handles situations like Imposter Syndrome, and more…

From this list I read about people’s fears, and someone even shared a talk they gave about it. Check out her post about here.

Here’s her video:

I feel this all the time, I get paranoid. I talk to people and try to smile it away, but there’s this feeling of

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How to get started in…

…coding?

That’s what I learnt from running Coding Grace workshops and PyLadies Dublin meetups. People want help with:-

  • setting up their machines
  • tools to use for coding

Just basically help on where to start.

Being in a workshop has its advantages, you are with a group of people who want to learn, and I noticed lots of people start pairing up and helping each other along the way. In Coding Grace workshops, I try to have a mentor per five attendees as well as aiming to have diverse mentors (who are awesome and volunteer on their own time).

If you don’t have access to a local coding group, here are a few places that might be useful to visit to get started (in alphabetical order):-

  • Code Academy - http://www.codecademy.com/
  • Code Avengers - http://www.codeavengers.com/
  • Code Combat - http://codecombat.com/
  • Khan Academy Computer Programming -

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