Record Number of Women Give Tech Talks at PyCon 2013

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PyCon is more than where Donglegate began. This year, PyCon boasted a record number of talks delivered by women. As always, they provided a generous financial aid program promoted by many diversity-minded groups.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

An inclusive developer conference in March for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language, PyCon 2013 was home to free workshops for children 7+ to learn Python from Katie Cunningham and Barbara Shaurette, a feminist hacker lounge hosted by the Ada Initiative, a huge PyLadies lunch and many booths in the expo area for the groups like PyLadies and CodeChix. These booths were not exclusive – in the span of half an hour, I watched several men purchase PyLadies shirts and get more information about the initiative.

But my favorite part about PyCon were the talks, which included a record number of remarkable women speaking at PyCon 2013 on topics ranging from exception handling to “how the Internet works”.

Here are the top 5 talks from PyCon (and a bonus talk, because his shirt is really awesome):

#1 – PyCon 2013 Talk: How the Internet Works

Boston-based Jessica McKellar is a software engineer and organizer of Boston Python meetups. She demonstrates how to use Python libraries like Scapy and Twisted to explore what happens at a networking level as you surf the Web, how coffee shop Internet access works, and more. This talk is an introduction to the Internet’s structure and protocols through fun experiments from the Python perspective.

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#2 – PyCon 2013 Talk: What to Except When You’re Excepting

Self-taught Python and Django developer Esther Nam from Santa Monica, California provides an introduction to the practice of exception handling. Novices to Python will learn Python-specific techniques that make use of built-in exceptions and the context manager, as well as unusual but Pythonic ways of managing the flow control of their program. The talk is aimed at those without a heavy CS background or years of experience, and who are thus unfamiliar with the technique.

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#3 – PyCon 2013 Talk: Why You Should Automate Your Web Infrastructure with Chef

Former Hearsay Social software engineer and Python programmer Kate Heddleston (and mentor at Hackbright Academy) talks about using Chef to create web application projects, specifically a Python project with a Django framework. Chef is a configuration tool for managing infrastructure by allowing users to automatically and reproducibly configure installations on servers.

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#4 – PyCon 2013 Talk: Who’s There? Home Automation with Arduino / Raspberry Pi

Have you ever found yourself obsessively checking the UPS or FedEx tracking website to see if your package finally got delivered at your doorstep? VMware staff engineer and founder Rupa Dachere gives this PyCon 2013 talk on how to build your own gadget using Arduino / Raspberry Pi to notify you when your package or contractor shows up at your doorstep!

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#5 – PyCon 2013 Talk: Location, Location, Location

Tindie software engineer Julia Grace (also a mentor at Hackbright Academy) goes over how to use GeoDjango, lessons learned in using spatial databases, and how she built an API exposing distance query functionality. Learn to build a Django application that handles geographic location data (ie. Yelp).

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Bonus: PyCon 2013 Keynote by the Creator of Python!

Wearing his infamous “Python is for girls” shirt, Python programming language inventor Guido van Rossum delivers a keynote at PyCon 2013. He continues to serve as the “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDFL), meaning that he continues to oversee the Python development process, making decisions where necessary. Guido is currently employed by Dropbox.

Getting Started in Python Programming

The videos include many talks on teaching programming and Python programming for beginners. Check out these resources to learn more:

Photo credit: Jeff Kramer.

Women 2.0 readers: What was your favorite part of PyCon 2013? Let us know in the comments below.


thisgirlangieAngie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.