DevPulseCon: By Women, For Women—by Bridget McErlean


Saturday, April 23, saw the return of the Bay Area’s only highly technical conference that is organized by women, for women. DevPulseCon, presented by CodeChix, was a fantastic and inspirational gathering of technical women from a variety of backgrounds and stages in their careers.

The day opened with a celebration of the progress that CodeChix has made over the last year. It was made clear just how important events like DevPulseCon are when we were reminded of the startling fact that the dropout rate for women in engineering is increasing and is now over 50%. CodeChix aims to reverse this trend by helping women stay up-to-date with their technical skills, provide advice and support for career advancement, and improve cultural environments which encourage a more diverse workforce. DevPulseCon delivered on these aims and more.During the morning’s panel session, attendees received a wealth of information on strategies to progress up the technical career ladder. The overarching theme of the discussion was definitely the importance of gathering evidence. When planning for a promotion, we should start the conversation with our managers early and set clear, tangible goals that can be reviewed frequently so evidence can be collected to make the most of our performance reviews. Gathering evidence is also crucial for salary negotiation. Titles and associated salaries don’t always match, so it’s important to know what the market rate is for someone in our position with our skillset. By interviewing regularly, even if you’re not looking for a new job, you’ll get an idea of how your skills are valued and also find out which areas you should focus and improve on.

Following the panel session, there was a fantastic selection of technical talks offered and it was difficult to choose which to attend!

Te-Yuan Huang from NetFlix discussed the complexities of what happens behind the scenes when you do something as simple as pushing the “Play” button, from the importance of video encoding to support multiple devices, to designing a Content Delivery Network and pushing content as close to users as possible. All of this is done to ensure the best user experience for their customers.

Neelima Mukiri from ContainerX taught us about how to develop a clear strategy when debugging and how defining the problem clearly can make a huge difference when tackling issues in complex software. By collecting data and tracking all changes and effects, you can reduce the pain of debugging and solve the problem sooner.

I was really fortunate to be able to present alongside Madhuri Yechuri as she told us about her experiences of contributing to open source projects and how building up a portfolio of contributions can help you learn a variety of new technical skills. Myself and Madhuri led the group in learning about how to fork a project on GitHub, create pull requests, and make their first open source contributions.

The afternoon workshops covered two exciting and popular technologies, Docker and Node.js. I opted to attend Anne Holler’s Node.js workshop and it was a fantastic learning experience. Although I had had some experience with Node.js, it was really valuable to learn more in-depth details about the JavaScript language, and the best practices in developing Node.js applications.

The final panel session of the day covered the topic of preparing for technical interviews. The panelists discussed the top things they look for when interviewing candidates such as excitement from a candidate about what they’ve worked on and contributed to, how motivated they are, and how quickly they can adapt and learn. It’s also important to stay up-to-date with current technologies and to care enough to have opinions on technologies that you use.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and I’m so glad that I was able to attend. It was inspiring to be among such a large group of talented engineers with a wealth of experience that I could learn from. I’m feeling ready to unleash the engineer within me! 🙂