Diversity and Education in Tech: A FutureTalk with Liz Abinante and Janice Levenhagen [Video]

Leading up to last week’s FutureTalk with Liz Abinante and Janice Levenhagen, we pointed out some recent employee demographic reports, published by major tech companies, concerning the lack of women and minority employees. Apparently it’s a hot topic: The jam-packed FutureTalk event drew nearly 200 folks to our Portland engineering headquarters!

We kicked off the night with a networking happy half-hour (free beer and pizza provided by New Relic and Bellagio’s), and were then treated to a pair of statistically impressive and engaging presentations. Liz talked about Programming, Education, and the American Dream, while Janice addressed Women in Today’s Tech.

Learning to code is not programming

Having previously served as co-leader for the Chicago chapter of Girl Develop It, Liz is now an engineer at New Relic. She covered how the “Learn to Code Movement” got started by:

  • Pointing out a few startup success stories
  • Describing the ensuing national attention
  • Noting the increasing availability of curriculum
  • And discussing the increasing barriers to entry for new technologies.

She went on to discuss how we actually teach kids in our schools (sharing some staggering statistics about how non-diverse the tech industry remains), and how this relates to educating programmers, and to the American dream. You can learn more about Liz’s personal experiences and insights in the video of her presentation below:

Standing up for other women

Janice is the executive director of ChickTech, a national organization headquartered in Portland, that focuses on attracting girls and women into high tech—and then helping them to stay there.

Janice’s presentation started by summarizing demographics information from various international and local tech companies, and then transitioned from these unemotional numerical norms to more moving accounts of the reality some women in tech face today. From her bad-apple anecdotes to examples of discrimination, Janice shares stories that may surprise you. See for yourself in the video below:

It’s less than two months into our inspirational and innovative speaker series for 2015, and we’ve already set event attendance records… twice! With so much more in store this year, including next month’s talk on big data in healthcare, you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for updates on this and future events. It’s easy, just join our Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks PDX, and follow us on Twitter @newrelic.

Christian Sinai is the Community Relations Manager for New Relic in Portland, Oregon. He is the community lead and liaison for our local outreach efforts, and manages initiatives such as the FutureTalks PDX technical speaker series. View posts by .

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