On this particular International Women’s Day

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First published March 2017

This is a very special International Women’s Day.  It is unlike any other in history.

While we have made tremendous progress in breaking barriers and venturing into “forbidden” fields of research, development and engineering, we are in a world that is about as unpredictable as we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

Today, women are facing unprecedented hurdles on every front – hurdles that we had fought and conquered well in the past.  Hurdles that our predecessors had sacrificed their lives and families for.  Hurdles that none of us had thought would rise from the ashes to take new form and confront us like a vengeful demon.

And because we are faced with these unprecedented challenges on this particular International Women’s Day, I want to say that we, at CodeChix, will continue to pursue our mission and persevere through these difficult times.

One day, I hope that I will not have to celebrate a special “International Women’s Day”.  That, everyday will be special for women.  That, one day, we will celebrate an “International Equality Day” to recognize and internalize an equal footing for both men and women in the workplace, at home and in the community.

To all the formidable, strong, fighters (both women and men) who fought for our rights, our freedom of choice and independence of lifestyle and thought, I hope that we will overcome the formidable hurdles in our way once more and prevail.

The path is long and brutal.  And completely worth fighting for.  For ourselves and the generations that are watching and learning from us.  For our future leaders.  We must stand together and lead the way through our actions.  Every little bit counts.

May the code be with you.  Today and always.

  • Rupa Dachere

    • Founder and Executive Director

DevPulseCon: By Women, For Women—by Bridget McErlean

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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! 🙂

DevPulseCon: Unleash the Engineer Within You—by Blythe Cairnes

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We’ve all been to conferences where you’re constantly being hounded by recruiters and getting pitched products you’ll never use. DevPulseCon is different, it is truly a hyper-technical conference for women engineers with high quality content packed into every minute.

The morning started out with Rupa Dachere, the President and Founder of CodeChix, greeting the attendees with an opening talk. She detailed the grim fact that nearly half of the women engineers on the technical ladder would leave the their career trajectory over the next two to three years, due to the lack of opportunities and promotions that are normally reserved for their male counterparts. CodeChix was founded with this in mind and aims to turn these numbers around through technical education, advocacy and mentorship…and events like DevPulseCon.

The introduction was followed by the first panel discussion of the day: Hurdles on the Technical Career Ladder. The audience was incredibly engaged and most of the questions to the panelists came from them! I had never been to any event where the attendees opened up so quickly and candidly.

The concurrent technical talks began after the panel and included: Netflix streaming, debugging, data science, Swagger, Electron, open source, and more. The presenters all had an incredible energy and fed off of the enthusiasm from the attendees. Even in switching rooms in between talks, everyone excitedly shared what they had just learned.

Lunch was buzzing with new connections being made, as people stepped away from their laptops for a brief period to socialize.

The afternoon went straight into workshops, with a even distribution between Docker and those learning Node. Instructors for both workshops were thorough and gave plenty of coding exercises to ensure that the students gained a solid understanding of their subjects in the condensed timeframe.

The final panel talk of the day was on technical interviewing. The panelists all gave deep insight into what they look for in candidates and how they approach the variety of technical and non-technical challenges along the way.

Overall, this was the perfect sized conference. It was small enough to not feel like one was overwhelmed, but large enough to expand your developer network and make new connections. The content was purely technical and all of the presenters were able to intimately answer the audience questions due to the small classroom-inspired environment.

CodeChix is now an independent 501(c)3 non-profit !

First published on June 1, 2015 by Rupa Dachere

After many years of waiting for the IRS to finish processing our paperwork, CodeChix has gained independent 501(c)3 status as of 2015. We are delighted with this news and, hope, that all our hard work will open avenues for fundraising with our new status.

We are no longer under our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives, and are looking forward to continue on our mission to educate and mentor local women engineers!

We are currently seeking sponsors and donors at this time.

If interested, please email: contact@codechix.org

May the code be with you !

CodeChix is now a 501c3 fiscally-sponsored non-profit !!

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First published Feb. 9, 2014 by Rupa Dachere

It is with great pleasure (and a considerable amount of relief followed by utter exhaustion) that I share with you the news that CodeChix has achieved 501c3 status through fiscal sponsorship.

I have been trying to get to this stage for the last two years and I cannot describe the quantity and type of hurdles I encountered in trying to do this. Frankly, it was really, really tough – similar to fish swimming upstream.

BUT – we’re there. Finally.

Our project name is the “CodeChix Education Fund“. We are a fiscally-sponsored project under Community Initiatives in San Francisco.

And, yes, donations are tax deductible through Network For Good –https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/communityin.  Make sure you specify CodeChix Education Fund in the Description so it goes to us.

I am still waiting for the IRS to bless us as an independent organization (they take two years to just look at the paperwork), but, in the meantime, we have a fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives who has accepted my application and, so, we are now 501c3 qualified. Yaaay !!

One of the hurdles to getting to this stage was to raise a minimum of $25K in funding. We raised $5K through our Indiegogo campaign and that wasn’t enough (Thank you to all who donated ! Your perks should be coming soon.). I was going to fund the rest of it from my own pocket (the dwindling Bank of Rupa), but, I am expecting a corporate donation that has been promised and that will carry us for this year. Another Yaaay !!

We really need tech companies to sponsor us and be corporate sponsors, so we can continue to be trailblazers. We are the only tech-women-targeted non-profit to take on the challenge of the alarming dropout rate of women engineers on the technical ladder at tech companies across all industry regardless of technology. And to focus on TECHNICAL events and promoting awesome technical women who are being overlooked and unappreciated. And to be inspirations to the next generation of fresh college graduates as well as women returning to the industry who may or may not know what they are getting into and feel abandoned/isolated in these tough environments.

So, if you work at a company that has a foundation and/or matches donations, please put our name forward so we can get some financial support. If you need more info, email me directly at rupa at codechix dot org. If your company uses EasyMatch, please add us as the following organization. This way, your donation has twice the impact.

Community Initiatives / CodeChix Education Fund

Thank you for being our supporters and for volunteering with us. Stay tuned for announcements on our upcoming events !!! See you all there !

May the code be with you…

– Rupa

Star-Trek-like LED lights

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First published on Nov. 12, 2013 by Rupa Dachere

[ Grace Hopper Conference India Nov. 14, 2013 – Getting your Hands Dirty with the RaspberryPi ]

Notes for replicating the project for Blinking LED’s in a sequence (like Star Trek main bridge)

Hardware

Rpi Model B
Rpi power adapter
Connection to laptop so that you can ssh to the Rpi (wired or wireless)
Breadboard (medium size)
3 LEDs (see picture)
3 1K resistors
4 Female to Male Jumper wires (get some extra if you can)
4 Male to Male Jumper wires (get some extra if you can)

Step-by-Step setup

IMPORTANT: Make sure you COUNT the pins correctly. Also, make sure you are careful with where the pins go on the breadboard. It’s hard to see sometimes and you might be off by one if you’re not careful. So, it’s always good to double check.

On the Rpi, do “pip install RPi.GPIO” – you need this library to make life easier
On the breadboard, on either side, you will see 2 long, marked lines of holes that go down the entire board. One line of holes is marked with “+” and the one next to it is marked with “-”. The “+” is for power and the “-” is for ground.
Take a Black female-male jumper and connect the pointy end to the first hole on the breadboard where you see “-”. What this does is make that particular series of holes “-”, i.e., ground. So, you can tap off of any of these holes to get access to ground without having to put a whole bunch of jumpers directly on the Rpi.
Now that we have a set of holes which are grounded on the breadboard, take a male-male jumper and connect one of the grounded holes to a different hole on one of teh regular breadboard holes. Best to see the pictures below.
When connecting the LED’s, the “longer” pin on the LED goes to power. The “shorter” pin goes to ground.
For the 3 LEDs I used, I used the following pins: 7, 11 and 15. See image below for counting the pins so you can connect to the correct ones.
If things don’t work, it’s almost always the wiring. Re-check all your connections.
GPIO pin layout for Rpi Model B

Connecting the GPIO pins to the LED with resistors in series
Connections on the Rpi (right to left) – Red (Pin 7), Orange (Pin 11), Yellow (Pin 15), Black (last Pin on that side which is ground)

Black wires are ground wires.

Make sure the two legs of the resistors are on different lines

Additional notes:
1. Get the RPi board revision: GPIO.RPI_REVISION
2. Get the Rpi.GPIO version: GPIO.VERSION

Basic (rough) code to test out your Star Trek-like LED Blinking lights (sequential)

#!/bin/python

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time

PIN_1 = 7
PIN_2 = 11
PIN_3 = 15

# setup GPIO pin reference model. We use the BOARD method so we can access the pins on the P1 header.
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)

def star_trek(pin1, pin2, pin3):

# setup the GPIO pin as an Input or Output
# for the purposes of this workshop, all the pins are setup as Output
GPIO.setup(pin1,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(pin2,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(pin3,GPIO.OUT)

#write to the GPIO pins to indicate when to turn
#which pin on (high) or off (low)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.LOW)

time.sleep(.5)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.LOW)

time.sleep(.5)
GPIO.output(pin1,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin2,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(pin3,GPIO.HIGH)

time.sleep(.5)

#cleanup all channels and reset
GPIO.cleanup()

#light up the LED’s in a sequence for 50 interations
for i in range(50):
star_trek(PIN_1, PIN_2, PIN_3)

”’
GPIO.setup(PIN_1,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(PIN_2,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(PIN_3,GPIO.OUT)

for i in range (100):
if (i % 2):
GPIO.output(PIN_1, GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(PIN_2, GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(PIN_3, GPIO.LOW)

else:
GPIO.output(PIN_1, GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(PIN_2, GPIO.HIGH)
GPIO.output(PIN_3, GPIO.HIGH)

time.sleep(.2)

GPIO.cleanup()
”’

First Team CodeChix competition submission for open source software !!!

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Published Sept. 16, 2013 by Rupa Dachere

Over the last 3.5 months, there has been a CodeChix team of 5 women engineers working towards a submission for an international competition on networking (ONF Driver Competition). This is the first competition submission by CodeChix and it’s a team of all women professionals – not students or independent contractors. I believe this is the first all-female team with these credentials to submit to an international competition!

These 5 women have full-time jobs as software engineers in Fortune 100 companies and two of them have little kids. They have spent almost all their weeknights/weekends and have also taken precious vacation days to work on this project on a volunteer basis! It all started when Deepa contacted me about this competition in May and said she wanted to build a CodeChix team and go for it! I was over the moon!

I am SO happy and tremendously proud to say that the CodeChix ONF Driver competition team has made their final submission @9:05pm PST yesterday (Sept. 15, 2013) !!!

Some Statistics:

Total time: 3.5 months
Lines of Code: 10,000+
Docs: Functional Spec, Block diagrams etc.
Size: 7MB+
Hours Spent (weeknights, weekends): 800 hours – probably more though

The team comprises of Deepa Dhurka (Technical Lead & Project Mgr), Ramya Bolla, Kajal Bhargava, Swapna Iyer and Rupa Dachere. We had Ben Pfaff as our advisor at the beginning of the project and that really helped us out and Dipjyoti Saikia, who was our MUL controller contact – we could not have done this without his help (he’s in S. Korea)! Shout out to Natasha Gude for her help in contacting Ben.

Deepa was the drive and technical lead on this project and she and the team pulled together through some truly difficult times:

  • Family emergencies (a team member’s husband got massively sick in India and she had to stay longer to cope with that)

  • Kids and home front – Two of the team members have little kids and everyone was juggling family/work life – not easy for a volunteer project that takes as much time and dedication as this one did

  • Getting legal blessing from 3 different companies

  • A big hurdle from one of the Fortune 500 companies that refused to give two core team members the legal OK to work on this particular open source project. We were stalled for 4 weeks because of this and had to go through a lot of hard work to get this company to pass the legal OK. And then we had to ask the ONF committee for an extension because of this delay. They gave it to us and extended the deadline for the competition by 4 weeks!

  • The “normal” team hours on weekdays were – 7p – 3am, I saw checkins at 4am/5am too. Weekends usually went till the wee hours of the morning.

  • Multi-user coordination and syncing using git and GitHub – it takes a LOT of time…

And it just goes to show – no matter what phase of life you’re in, if you have passion, drive and a CodeChix circle, you can reach for any star you want and get it! It is hard and will take a toll on you and everyone around you who depends on you – as long as you’re prepared to handle that toll, you’re golden.

I am truly inspired and humbled by this amazing team – just blown away.

We’ll be putting all the source etc. on the CodeChix github repo so everyone can take a look. And if you are interested in contributing to the source, please contact organizers at codechix dot org.

You can also support us by donating to our cause, spreading the word about the awesome and difficult work that we do and joining our membership in the Bay Area and Seattle. If you want to start a chapter and are a Sr. Engineer or Engineering Manager, ping us at organizers at codechix dot org.