eCity had a great time at ELA Conf this year, right here in Philadelphia on November 20 and 21, 2015. It was so inspiring to hang with a group of women so motivated and supportive and to honestly address some of the challenges and victories that we’ve experienced working in tech.
The conference creates a “safe, supportive, inspiring, and comfortable community for women to gain the confidence needed to become leaders, speakers, and teachers in the world of tech.” ELA stands for Empowerment, Leadership, and Action and the speakers at the conference adhere to these themes in approaching topics like gender and pay discrepancy, imposter syndrome, and public speaking.
This year, women from all over the country met up on a Friday night for networking and lighting talks centered around teaching, mentoring, and the power of sharing knowledge between women in the tech industry.
Saturday, Saron Yitbarek kicked off a full day of talks and breakout sessions with her keynote presentation. Her personal experiences with salary negotiation, power struggles at work, and finding her voice set the stage for a day of open conversation around these and other issues. Tracy Osborn and Eleanor Whitney followed with more personal accounts and actionable tools for navigating the industry while pursuing your own passions.
After these presentations, participants chose a breakout session. These smaller groups were lead by panels of women from various backgrounds with experience in specific subjects. Conversations around things like becoming a founder, choosing a career path, and sharing your writing with confidence allowed for more interaction and question/answer time.
The day ended with a series of presentations offering practical tips for teaching, honing your creative process, and preparing for your first talk. Encouragement and support in knowing how to be confident and true to yourself when speaking at a tech conference was another major theme. The day wrapped with a reminder that investing in yourself – giving yourself permission to take care of yourself when feeling burned out – allows you to invest in others.
The organizers, sponsors, speakers, attendees all did such an amazing job in getting together to hash out some of the hard and common things that women face in their work environments, while creating a real sense of encouragement and camaraderie to elevate and motivate each other. Thanks so much ELA Conf!