In this snippet from the Adatasol Podcast, I give an overview of the amazing experience planning PauseOnError 2018 with the Women of FileMaker. We also talk about the experience of being a woman in the tech industry and how we can get more women involved. For my recap of the conference check out this blog post.
Please find a full transcript below:
Nick: Hi everybody this is Nick Smedira, developer at Adatasol, and I’m here today with Susan. Can you pronounce your last name for me?
Susan: Hi, Susan Fennema. I’m the Chaos Eradicating Officer from Beyond the Chaos.
Nick: We’re also here today with Adam Fetrow, our developer at Adatasol.
Nick: We’re recording live from PauseOnError in New Orleans 2018. The special focus of this year’s event is Women of FileMaker and for that reason, I invited Susan onto the show today to talk a little bit about that and the work she’s done to bring that focus into our event this week. Would you like to talk a little bit about that?
Susan: Sure. I am a lead facilitator for Women of FileMaker. We have this year launched a whole bunch of new things like sponsoring PauseOnError, which has been awesome that John Sindelar and Ernest Koe entrusted their brand to us. To let us really open it up and encourage more women to get up and speak. To get up and stand tall and be a voice in the community. We had 40% women attendees and 60% women speakers at this Pause. In the development community, that’s really unheard of. We are very proud of that accomplishment and we hope to see it continue more, maybe even towards the DevCon stage. We’ll see how that goes. I know they have more women speakers this year than they have in the past as well. It’s still not high so it’s closer to around 20 to 25%. They’re still encouraging women speakers to apply there as well. We had a lot of committees. I will give total shout-outs to the committee that helped mostly with this event, which is now our PauseOnError committee led by Lisette Wilson and co-chaired by Martha Zink. So much creative stuff that you see at this Pause has come from Martha. Her very creative mind and man, Lisette, she ran the whole thing, kept us structured, it was a great experience to work with those two ladies as well.
Adam: Anecdotally, we have from Adatasol representing our company, two women here this year, Bridget and Paula. Bridget said that at her last Pause event, there were only three women in attendance that she remembers. As an example of how the growth has occurred. That’s really cool. Would you mind telling us a little bit about your history with FileMaker and how you got involved?
Susan: Oh, sure. I actually designed forms in FileMaker in 1990. I mean, I think that was Claris maybe, I don’t even know the version. I just made the PO and invoice for my company. I was actually introduced into the community a long time ago but never as a real, true developer. I have never been a real developer. In 2000, I moved to Chicago and an ad agency and we needed traffic management and all the POs and invoices and print buying and timelines. At that time, there were no off-the-shelf software-as-a-service things to buy to fill that role. I met Molly Connolly who came into our office to pitch a starter solution that she had. She and I worked closely on developing that for ten years, throughout about 2010. About that time I decided it was time for me to move back to Texas, so she connected me up with a platinum partner MightyData. I went to work for them as a project manager and operations type person for about six years. Six years, seven years. Two years ago, I left and went off on my own, started my own business as a project management and operations consultant mostly working with the development community, served them a lot. I serve some other communities as well but it’s been a great experience to be involved and I just love being a part of the community. It’s amazing.
Adam: One question I had, speaking to Women of FileMaker, is do we think the numbers are so low at Pause because it’s a lower demographic in general? We were talking about the tech sector, women are a smaller percentage than in a lot of other business sectors. Also, are there any ways that we’re trying to maybe recruit or bring more women into the FileMaker community?
Susan: Sure, I can answer that. It is a problem across the board, as far as tech goes. Two weeks ago at a conference in Denver, for the Xojo community. That’s X-O-J-O. It was Real Basic. It was what it used to be called. They had five total women at their 100-person conference. Two of them were employees of Xojo. I was one. There were only two developers there. It is a problem across the board in tech. Women of FileMaker are trying to encourage more women. We have started with scholarships for DevCon. We’re going to give at least four this year. First-time attendees, women, who have voiced interest. They do have to actually apply, so we don’t take everyone.
Adam: Can you share some information about how, some of our listeners if they’re interested in this scholarship, how they could apply?
Susan: Sure. Actually, the scholarships for this year have already been designated and granted. For next year, we have an application on our website, womenoffilemaker.com. You fill that out and we put you through the evaluation factors and award as many as we can. We collect money mostly from the community. It is amazing the number of businesses that will donate a lot of money to send somebody that doesn’t work for them to go to this conference and get that opportunity. We have a booth at DevCon as well and at that booth, you can meet other women in the community. Jess Lancaster is here at Pause from England. She came all the way from England for this. Part of why she has become part of the community is because of the Women of FileMaker group that she ran into as a guest, a non-attendee, at the last DevCon. We are attracting people slowly but we would like to get the word out. By the way, women, if you’re a stay-at-home mom, this is a great part-time job that you can work from home and have this great lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle job. Come. Join the community. There are tools to learn the software. You don’t have to be a scientific genius to do it. We want more women in the community, probably the men do too is my guess.
Adam: Yeah, definitely. The community is a great tool to learn as well. I feel like everyone is always trying to help everyone out. Mike Beargie said in his session yesterday morning about how the community is one of the only places you’ll ask a question and actually get a real response without judgment or asking you to pay them for their time to answer any of your questions.
Nick: Both of your comments just now bring up for me, you mentioned Susan that the industry, in general, has this problem but do you see that there’s something that sets the FileMaker community apart in that regard? Adam mentioned that we really do, at least in my personal opinion, feel that there’s much more of a sense of community and support in our FileMaker community. Do you find that?
Susan: Oh I definitely find that. The community is what has kept me wanting to serve the FileMaker teams and developers. The sense of sharing and helping each other, supporting each other. These conferences, especially Pause where you open up to a discussion of a whole room of people to get their input and their insight. What you can learn from that is amazing. Something like Pause is very inexpensive as compared to DevCon, which is a pretty big dollar amount. The experience at Pause really lets you interact and build relationships. You have that a little bit at DevCon too, but I think you also get it through the FileMaker community online. You almost feel like you know people before you meet them. When you see them it’s like, oh long lost friends finally getting together. Everybody enjoys each other and has a great time. The community is very welcoming. All sorts of different people. I absolutely encourage more women to reach out and see. Nobody is going to judge you. They’re going to welcome you, quite honestly. All of the men are ready for some fresh faces as well. It’s a pleasant change and it’s kind of exciting to see this many women here.
Adam: I would say that the Women of FileMaker group has to be the reason for that, most likely. If you feel safe and you feel included at a conference like this where you’re being encouraged as a woman to go, I would guarantee that has to be the reason for the demographic shift from previous Pause conferences or DevCon or anything like that. That’s great work that group seems to be doing.
Nick: I know most of our listeners are people who are already in the community. Do you have any advice for some younger folks who might be listening, hoping to break into the FileMaker community or just tech in general, especially young females? What kind of advice do you have for them on the steps they can take right now in their early career?
Susan: That’s a good question. I mean, there are so many resources out there online. Join the FileMaker community online, it’s free. Go to filemaker.com/community. Start asking questions and get engaged. I was a woman that started her career a long time ago in the eighties. When we did that, we didn’t have that kind of support and it’s out there. You can find a woman who will mentor you. You can find many men that will mentor you. You can find some FileMaker companies that are so desperate just to hire some diversity into their companies that they will take a chance on a new developer who has no experience and will help train you up. Don’t be afraid to apply for those jobs. Reach out and look for them. You can get a leg up just doing that. Don’t be afraid to talk. You have to use your voice. You have to stand tall, like what we’re saying here at Pause.
Nick: #PauseStandTall right, that’s our hashtag on Twitter?
Susan: That’s right.
Adam: Anything else?
Nick: If you don’t mind, we can close up and I’d just like you say a few things about the Women of FileMaker, how people can in touch with you guys, your website and stuff.
Susan: Sure. You can reach out to us on womenoffilemaker.com. You can join our mailing list there. You’ll have a little popup. There are other things to sign up for too. If you’re coming to DevCon, the luncheon is there for registration. We’re having a plated luncheon this year so we do need RSVPs. We have the booth sign up and if you want to be mentored or a mentee, there is also a sign up there and we will make those matches after DevCon this year. Thanks so much for having me.
Nick: Absolutely, Susan. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.