In November 2018, over 50,000 people found themselves in Las Vegas, all with one final destination in mind—AWS: reInvent. AWS re:Invent is a global tech conference hosted by Amazon Web Services for the cloud computing community.
As Coral Movasseli, Managing Director of Girls in Tech Dublin, and I touched down in McCarran International Airport, we followed the crowd of people heading towards baggage claim. As if walking past slot machines in the terminal wasn’t surreal enough, we found ourselves at baggage claim, staring at the large AWS: reInvent check-in line. Already, the conference was underway. Dozens of volunteers organised weary travellers into queues, asking everyone to have passports and confirmation e-mails at the ready. Even now, the issue was clear: there were exponentially more men than women. In fact, we would come to find that only 2% of re:Invent attendees would be female.
Global leader in cybersecurity, TrendMicro partnered with AWS to address this issue with their #CloseTheGap Initiative, which included sponsoring 30 women from the global Girls in Tech community to attend the conference. We spent the week attending keynotes, networking, and bonding with our sister chapters. Every day we set out to engage, educate and empower not only ourselves, but also everyone around us, highlighting the lack of and need for diversity in tech.
We found great support in Amazon, TrendMicro, and many others, including governmental agencies—the FBI emphasized the lack of women in intelligence agencies (there were more women in the FBI in the 1970s than there are at present). Companies showcasing their products on the expo floor were very receptive to discussion on what they could do to promote diversity in their own offices.
Overall, it was a week of great success and support, but there is still a long way to go to #closethegap. We must all continue to do our parts to address the gender gap. It is important to work with allies, to be open and welcoming for newcomers, and to keep the discussion going past one week in Vegas in late November. Check out the highlights of our trip here on Youtube.
Here in Dublin, we continue our Stepping Up micro-mentorship events in 2019, and will be hosting our first Hackathon and the first women in tech hackathon for Ireland, in the coming months. We’re making and trailblazing history one step at a time. Will you join us?
written by Vivian Zeng, People Director, Team Engagement, Girls in Tech Dublin