Grassroots conference celebrates world class local Women Techmakers

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  • Well over a hundred IT professionals gathered in W5 on Saturday for the third annual Women Techmakers Belfast conference. 

    “We’re keen to give a voice and a platform to local women and their achievements they’re making here in Northern Ireland and beyond” said Darcie Graham, one of the local organisers who kicked off the event

    “It’s a showcase which celebrates the variety of roles, level of responsibility and expertise of local women techmakers as well as providing role models and inspiration to people who are looking to enter the industry, or are already working within it.”

    The conference planning team were inundated with grassroots volunteers from across Northern Ireland’s tech industry who offered to deliver talks after the open call for speakers.

    With accessible ticket pricing and free childcare thanks to the investment of partners and sponsors, Darcie explained that “we wanted people to give up their Saturday for something worthwhile” Catering was provided by the social enterprise Loaf which offers work experience opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism whilst Puppet hosted a post conference prosecco reception at the Bullitt Hotel.

    Fifteen minute lightning talks were mixed in with longer sessions, a tech educators panel and a keynote address from local tech entrepreneur Rachel Gawley, CTO of of MedTech company AttAttic.

    Freelancers and contractors mixed with employees and senior managers from larger, well-established firms. Some talks delved into the technical depths of middleware and producing accessible software while others examined the softer skills needed to build good teams and share knowledge. The application of natural language engines and the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to help manage chronic pain were complemented by an introduction to Design Thinking and an introduction to the role of software architect. 

    On the eve of the conference, five workshops were hosted in PwC’s offices giving delegates a practical introduction to iOS and JavaScript development as well as Design Thinking and Agile delivery techniques.

    Another organiser Victoria McCallum said that the conference had brought together people in the industry “who wanted to network, learn new things and hang out with like-minded people … alongside others who are either switching to the tech sector after pursuing a different career path, or maybe returning to tech after a number of years away”.

    The conference received support from partners Allstate, AV Browne, Bazaarvoice, Core Systems NI, Deloitte, Liberty IT, McGowans, Puppet, PWC, Rapid7, Secure Broadcast,Sync NI, SJD Creative and realTime Recruitment.

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