“Duchess helps women to connect and to get the courage to take the next step.” Kim Spiritus is an active member of Duchess, a global organisation for women in Java technology. If you haven’t heard of it before, at Devoxx UK in a few weeks Kim and Regina ten Bruggencate are hosting a BOF: Meet and Greet Duchess: an unconference. We asked Kim about Duchess.
What are the aims of Duchess?
Duchess aims to make the role of women and the individual women’s contributions visible in the Java community. Furthermore it aims to teach the benefits of diversity in any team environment – whether corporate or open-source.
The world ‘outside’ is diverse, if we want to make products for that world we need the team to be just as diverse. Furthermore, the more diverse the talent, the more problems you can solve. And research has made it clear that companies with more diverse workplaces perform better financially.
What do you think is the most important issue facing Women/Minorities in tech at the moment?
Apart from under-representation the most important issue is under-appreciation and not only monetary but also in credit in other ways. Mansplaining is one example of challenges women face in the workplace.
How can conferences create positive environments for attendees?
Have a clear Code of Conduct and act on it. Make sure you show the mixed nature of your audience in your advertising, speakers and in your program committee. Make sure there are no unsafe areas at the venue and the surrounding area.
What are the ‘next steps’ for an attendee to take after attending your session?
- Join their local Java User Group meetings.
- Start their own Java User Group.
- Start their own Duchess Chapter.
- Enjoy working in IT again.
- Be motivated to become a speaker.
- Make new friends to go to conferences.
- Have a safety net to help others back home.
All these things have happened after a Duchess meeting.
For more, meet Kim and Regina at Devoxx UK: