Techweek in Kansas City

Really thinking about going!

Kansas City’s Techweek runs from September 14-20. Even if I have to take a week off of classes or a job I might have by that point, I think it’ll be worth it. Techweek includes a hiring fair, a 24-hour hackathon, and a lot of opportunities to meet all kinds of people, from hackers to startup founders to business execs to tech investors. It is an opportunity to schmooze, hack, and talk shop for a week straight, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

I shouldn’t stick out too badly. I regularly get mistaken for being in my mid-twenties, even though as of this writing I’m still 48 hours away from even being 18. (It’s probably how I talk, which is very similar to how I write, possibly because I spend more time writing than talking.) Besides, according to the Techweek attendance stats, a tenth of the attenders are under 24 anyway–probably because basic attendee passes for students are $20 and the cities that feature Techweek are also university towns. So they probably get a lot of curious college students splurging $20 to check things out, or maybe because they want in on the hiring fair.

My folks would not be too keen on my traveling to a strange city for a week by myself, so my mom would be coming with me. She’s not interested in the conference, but she’ll enjoy just wandering around KC and visiting art museums and antique stores and stuff. I have to admit: by the end of such an event, I’d be way too exhausted to drive all the way back to eastern Iowa!

Funny coincidence that I ran into Techweek and the tech startup culture surrounding it, because I’ve just started working on a startup idea of my own. It’s kind of nebulous right now and I’m too tired to describe it here right now, but it is an idea for a mobile app and it’s something I think a lot of people would really normalize into their everyday life. I think it would be cool to finish a working prototype before Techweek so I’d have something to show off. But I can’t make myself any promises, because I’m still learning to really work with OO languages–let alone programming for a mobile platform, which is totally new to me. Still! I’m a teenager, in the summer, with comparatively few commitments, and I learn fast. Let’s see what I can do. >:]

Yes, I’m aware there’s been some sexism controversy because Techweek sent out an email with a certain picture in it last year. Before anyone asks… yes, it was inappropriate and deserved to be called out, but no, that doesn’t mean I think the people refusing to attend were reacting reasonably. Similarly, I think that NASA guy’s shirt looked desperate and needed to be burned because come on, it was pretty awful, but seriously guys. It’s a shirt. And yeah, Tim Hunt obviously has some personal issues, and #distractinglysexy is hilarious, but he didn’t need to be sacked. No, it isn’t appropriate for someone with such fame and weight to say stuff like that, but one guy making a dumb remark is not going to topple techie women’s rights. Basically, every time someone says something against techie girls in a major setting, it gets blown out of proportion.

This actually hurts more than it helps, because when I or any other techie lady goes to superiors to report that we’re actually being stigmatized, being condescended towards every day by some jackal who thinks it’s funny and they can get away with belittling us, the people we’re relying on to fix things assume we’re blowing the situation out of proportion just like on TV. Those in the media think they’re pulling the situation up by its roots by getting rid of the most public sources of discrimination, but they’ve never had a personal issue they needed to report and not been taken seriously.

*climbs off soapbox*

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