The inaugural Girls in Tech 303 summit took place last Saturday with a focus on leadership and mentoring amongst women in the Boulder technology community. Girls in Tech is a national organization with local branches across the country. The Boulder/Denver chapter was started back in February by Kate Brown, Managing Director. Saturday’s summit featured two separate presentations on mentoring with a keynote address in between on the history of prominent American women.
The summit began with some opening remarks by Brown in which she shared the story of how she ended up in Boulder and how she started Girls in Tech 303. “I became a feminist organizer with nothing to organize,” Brown said, explaining that she decided to start Girls in Tech 303 only after she came to Boulder and saw a need for a stronger community resource for women in technology. Brown thanked the nearly 50 women in attendance and offered a lighthearted apology for those who were missing the second day of the World Cup in order to be at the event.
The first session was called “No Country for Old Men (toring)” and was presented by Tara Anderson, the C.O.O. of Quick Left. Anderson mixed in a solid amount of comedy into her presentation which followed her personal history from stand up comedian to C.O.O. of Quick Left. “If you can make people laugh, you can pretty much sell them on anything,” Anderson said. She also talked about the importance of having well placed mentors, something she said she was fortunate to have as she evolved into who she is today.
The keynote presentation was provided by Jill Tietjen, who coauthored the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. Tietjen is an electrical engineer who, through a string of opportunities, found herself deeply involved with the history of prominent women. “You can’t see (your path) when it happens. You can only tell in hindsight,” she said. The book covers 850 women from 1587-2007 and took Tietjen and her co-author Charlotte Waisman, about five years to put together.
The final presentation was a highly interactive discussion with Suzan Bond, an Organizational Strategist and founder of Suzan Bond & Co. Bond had three key points of emphasis in her presentation: empowerment, community and legacy. She also encouraged everyone in attendance to be mentors more often. “We can all mentor. Anytime. Anywhere,” she said. She concluded her discussion with an interactive activity about creating a vision for the future of girls in technology.
The summit lasted nearly five hours but the energy was very high and there was a healthy amount of participation. There were women from every corner of the tech community as well as some participants who were still in middle school. The summit was sponsored by Boulder Digital Works, Quick Left, Name.com, Atlas Purveyors, Illegal Pete’s, Sage and Savory Catering, and DuckDuckDeal.com.