The speaker lineup for ELA Conf, a women-in-tech leadership conference, is killer - Technical.ly Philly

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Nov. 17, 2015 10:51 am

The speaker lineup for ELA Conf, a women-in-tech leadership conference, is killer

What to do about the lack of women in tech leadership roles? Head to ELA Conf, organized by women technologists along the East Coast.
ELA Conf keynote speaker Saron Yitbarek, who founded CodeNewbie, a community for those learning to code.

ELA Conf keynote speaker Saron Yitbarek, who founded CodeNewbie, a community for those learning to code.

(Photo courtesy of Flatiron School)

There’s a lot of talk about the lack of women in tech leadership roles, but not a lot of talk about how to actually change that.

So here’s what a group of Philly technologists are doing about that: a daylong event called ELA Conf. ELA stands for empowerment, leadership and action.

“We wanted to plan something that would help women build leadership skills and help find their voice and the confidence to take the next step whether it’s speaking at a conference, teaching a class or even speaking up at work,” said co-organizer LeeAnn Kinney, who’s taken more and more leadership roles herself at events and efforts like the Women in Tech Summit and the Open Source Mentorship Program.

All profits will go toward Girl Develop It, which has been a major force in empowering Philly’s women technologists.

Said co-organizer Joni Trythall, a Delaware-based product designer for Now Secure: “So much of my confidence has come from feeling truly part of a welcoming and supportive network of women, which I found through Girl Develop It.” (Trythall is one of the women who brought Girl Develop it to Wilmington. So is fellow ELA Conf co-organizer Dominique Clarke.)

The conference is this Saturday, Nov. 20, at Wharton’s Huntsman Hall (3730 Walnut St.), with a meet-and-greet pre-event on Friday evening. Tickets start at $90. You can apply for a grant here.

Or sign up for our newsletter and put in the code “ELA,” and we’ll email you a half-off discount code. If you’re already a Philly newsletter subscriber, sign up for our national newsletter, which sends out daily headlines from all our markets.

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Speakers are coming from all across country.

“I think we were all thinking this would be a conference highlighting mostly local women but were blown away but the response we got from women all over the country,” Kinney wrote in an email.

They include New York City-based CodeNewbie founder Saron Yitbarek, who’s giving the keynote, Bay Area-based WeddingLovely founder Tracy Osborn and Philly’s own Chanelle Henry, director of user experience at Bluewolf. Not to mention more local women-in-tech leaders like Code for Philly Executive Director Dawn McDougall, Textizen CEO Michelle Lee and Women in Tech Summit cofounder Gloria Bell. (Oh, full disclosure, this reporter is moderating a panel on “redefining women in tech.”)

Here’s McDougall on why ELA Conf is so important: “Accepting empowerment and creating it for yourself are no easy feats. Women are all too prone to self select out of opportunities to avoid rejection from someone else. That’s okay. It makes sense, but it doesn’t mean it can’t change.”

Topics include addressing the pay discrepancy in the tech scene, dealing with imposter syndrome and preparing for your first talk.

It’s exciting to see women from tech scenes along the East Coast, and elsewhere, come together to organize a conference like this — and especially exciting to see it in Philadelphia, but we’ll say that doesn’t surprise us. Along with Clarke and Trythall from Delaware and Kinney from Philly, Albany, N.Y.-based Mapbox developer Katy DeCorah is also on the organizing team.

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