2012/Outreach Events - Your Triumphs, Your Mistakes

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Outreach Events: Your Triumphs, Your Mistakes

Participants included:

  • Ezra Gorman
  • Jennifer Davidson
  • Addie Beseda
  • Kevin Turner
  • Molly de Blanc
  • Asheesh Laroia
  • Sumana Harihareswara
  • Larissa Schapiro
  • Marilyn G.

Also reference from earlier this OSB:

  • Meghan Gill's talk
  • Liene's talk
  • Sumana's keynote

Let's cover:


  • Larissa ran a TechWomen event in Casablanca, Morocco
    • Hard to find the right person to come. Venue, topics, teachers, etc., but it was hard to find attendees. Hard for women to convince their management to get the time off to work. Work day - mistake! In that area, certificates & diplomas, etc., something official, would have helped. Anything where you say that they're getting specific technical know-how that goes back to their job.
      • People who want certificates may just be embedded in a system that they knowingly hate, so don't discount them just because they're asking - they may KNOW that it's nonsense.
      • US Dept of State - some help, some hurt :-)
    • Would weekend have helped? Well, women with families.....
    • Molly at MIT's OpenCourseWare gets dozens of emails a day, mostly from South Asia, asking about certification.
      • Also, commute time is a thing.

On certificates: Let's talk about Google Summer of Code - KDE did Season of KDE, which has the same structure but no money. They get huge interest.

  • Remember that structure, certificates, badges are enormously comforting to people in a new place.
  • Code review & style guide are comforting, give you a sense of predictability.

Get on the OpenHatch events list!

  • Marilyn

higher ed (did not cover) horror stories & successes (did not cover)

prepping your team

  • Be picky about picking your team.
  • Explain to people that they should be nearly aggressively asking participants whether they are understanding the material and asking if people need help.
    • No recipe except write stuff down and talk to people
  • ChickTech - got a training doc -- sit with your mentors/TAs, walk them through training the day before
  • Even if there is gender parity in people willing to instruct, people who dominated energywise were the guys. Especially That One Guy. He hadn't gotten the memo that his energy was welcome but that we're learning foo, we are not geeking out about it. Understand the microcommunity that is forming for the day.
    • If guys wanna help, fine, but make sure they are not dominating the conversation. Make sure everyone's mindful of how those dynamics play out for the students.
      • See Liene's talk -- enthusiasm can be "blah blah blah" and student gets nothing out of it.
  • Be proactively welcoming vs reactively welcome.
  • Should we do background checks on all of our mentors?
    • Audience of high schoolers & middle schoolers.... yeah.
      • Some people want to help but are not going to be effective at it. How to use their energy? Helps if you have preexisting community.
      • Asheesh handpicks staff - personal knowledge beats the reputation (of them) that you learn on the internet.
    • After your first event, you'll refresh the teacher pool with people who attended.

starting where there was nothing

  • ChickTech is an example ... got people to help out via canvassing relevant groups, discussion, then teams (TeamLab teams), now biweekly meeting. Now, fundraising!
  • Boston Python Workshop for Women & Their Friends started with people who had never been to that meetup before. But Asheesh already had several friends who were into gender diversity in tech
  • Addie was able to use GeekFeminism, Systers, DevChix... Bay Area, Addie didn't have people, Portland, she found people.

Molly de Blanc wants to start an OER group.

Asheesh inherited the Hopkins computer club... show up at intro computer classes and say "there is a meeting at 5pm after this class" and stand outside the door. And they come!

Have a group with a very clear purpose! Open Ed user group - you'll have to do some legwork to find people who are doing this stuff. Seth somebody started a Khan Academy enthusiast group and he didn't have any Khan Academy users!

Organizer of Montreal Python gave a good talk .... if you do lightning talks, people invite friends to watch them. And then you go out for drinks after, and you get retention and new members.

1 tech talk + 4 lightning talks = 1 monthly or every-other-month meeting

Make sure you start the meeting on time, and you will annoy people at first and then win.

Just use meetup.com even though it's bleh.

Going out to drinks after - problematic. What are alternatives?

  • Beer... Bailey's Taproom, you can't even get food worth eating unless you know special tricks
  • venues are not actually good for conversation
  • 21+ issue
  • drinking culture
    • "available" vs "celebrated" - compare the celebration of pork
    • can we at least have a conversation about it? that's the important
    • Look at how OSBridge de-emphasized booze this year.
  • going somewhere else, losing people
  • sober, don't want to go to a bar
  • time - people with day jobs often find it hard to go out after an event. parents, too.
    • Time. If a meeting stretches out past an hour...... plus straggling....
  • money for buying beer
    • get sponsorship for beer?

also: please stop calling them hack nights! they should be project nights! Boston group found attendance go up 3x when they changed name, and emphasized beginner friendliness.

  • "hack" has unfortunate connotations and newbies don't know and why would they?
  • Publicize that you don't have to know how to code