Suzanne Axtell

I oversee the marketing efforts for all O'Reilly conferences, based in Sebastopol, California. I'm also on a mission to help bring more diverse speakers and participants to our events, particularly women, people of color, and other groups traditionally underrepresented at tech events. Previous positions at O'Reilly, which I joined in 2000, include publicist, Intranet editor, and event coordinator. I've also toiled happily as a community manager at Borders, in the Letters Department at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and as the associate alumni relations director at NYU's Stern School of Business. I heart writing, crafting, knitting, reading, and pets.

Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day

The O'Reilly community shares stories of inspiring women in tech. Who inspired you?

Ada_Lovelace_Montage

October 14 is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD), an annual global event that recognizes not only the 19th century mathematician and aristocratic super nerd who wrote the first computer program, but other women in our community, too. ALD founder Suw Charman-Anderson’s goal is “to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire.

Supporting diversity is important to us, so we’re participating in ALD this year. We’ve compiled some stories of women in tech from O’Reilly staff and members of our extended family — you can read about them below.

Read more…

Comments: 2

Changing Careers to Coding

How Etsy and Hacker School helped Bethany Macri move from legal to engineering

Etsy has received widespread praise for its partnership with Hacker School to recruit more women for coding education generally and for its own engineering department specifically.

As a follow-on to this interview with Etsy’s Marc Hedlund, I spoke with Bethany Macri, a software engineer on Etsy’s core platform team, to get the student perspective on this initiative. Bethany was making a career transition from law to coding and applied for one of Etsy’s grants to attend Hacker School last summer.

Bethany is an example of a growing trend of engineers who choose an unconventional learning path. In her case, she built on her self-taught foundation with a very self-directed training program that was much different than a college degree.

In this interview, Bethany discusses her decision to change careers, what it was like to be a part of Hacker School, and the Etsy recruiting process.

How did you learn to code? Will the emergence of online and in-person training resources such as Codecademy, Skillcrush, Hackbright Academy, and volunteer study groups such as RailsBridge ever replace formal CS education? Tell us in the comments section below.

Comment: 1

Do’s and don’t’s for changing the ratio of women in tech

Etsy's Marc Hedlund shares the tactics he's using to boost the diversity of his engineering team

You’ve probably heard of Etsy, the bustling online marketplace for crafters and artists. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of its customers are women, both buyers and sellers. Ditto that the Etsy team is a pretty good representation of the Earth’s gender ratio.

Yet when Marc Hedlund took the helm of Etsy’s Product Development & Engineering department, 97% of the engineering department were men. Hedlund realized that in his nearly two decades in IT, he’s hired no more than 20 women for engineering positions. This began to bother him. Especially after his daughter was born.

“You’re in a position of authority. What have you done to make it better?”

While she’s only four, Hedlund imagines this is the pointed question his daughter will ask him when she’s old enough to follow in his footsteps in the computing industry.

Impatient to change the gender ratio before his daughter enters the workforce, Hedlund decided to take action. Last year, he partnered with Hacker School to create a training program to address the engineering shortage in general and the lack of gender parity in particular.

The result: women now make up 15% of Etsy’s engineering team.

How did he do it? In his video interview, Hedlund offers concrete advice for companies who want to hire more women in technical roles.

Read more…

Comments: 31
The Reading Glove engages senses and objects to tell a story

The Reading Glove engages senses and objects to tell a story

Karen Tanenbaum uses wearable tech and sensors to explore the boundaries of storytelling.

What if you mashed up a non-linear narrative, a tangible computing environment and a hint of a haunted house experience? You might get the Reading Glove, a novel way to experience a story.

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Permission to be horrible and other ways to generate creativity

Denise R. Jacobs advocates for new approaches to work and community.

Author and web design consultant Denise R. Jacobs reveals lessons she learned about creativity while writing her first book. She also discusses her efforts to give women and people of color more visibility in the tech world.

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Unstructured data is worth the effort when you've got the right tools

Alyona Medelyan and Anna Divoli on the opportunities in chaotic data.

Alyona Medelyan and Anna Divoli are inventing tools to help companies contend with vast quantities of fuzzy data. They discuss their work and what lies ahead for big data in this interview.

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Unstructured data is worth the effort when you’ve got the right tools

Alyona Medelyan and Anna Divoli on the opportunities in chaotic data.

Alyona Medelyan and Anna Divoli are inventing tools to help companies contend with vast quantities of fuzzy data. They discuss their work and what lies ahead for big data in this interview.

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An angel who bets on women-led companies

An angel who bets on women-led companies

Joanne Wilson on startup diversity and supporting local economic engines.

In this interview, Joanne Wilson discusses becoming an angel investor, how investors can help change the ratio of women CEOs, and the Mars versus Venus approach to entrepreneurialism.

Comments: 5

A young entrepreneur's perspective on Angolan innovation

Angolan entrepreneur Nyanga Tyitapeka on mobile commerce and data's potential.

Infonauta founder Nyanga Tyitapeka says Angola is on the cusp of a technology explosion. Mobile and data are overcoming low levels of literacy to change the lives of everyday Angolans.

Comments: 2
Confessions of a not-so-public speaker

Confessions of a not-so-public speaker

If you want the tech community to have diversity, you need to be the change.

Stepping out of our comfort zones and into the spotlight at events (and encouraging others to do likewise) can help address the perception that the tech community is solely populated by young white guys.

Comments: 12