women in tech

In this episode of The Context Podcast, Vanessa Costanzo and I discuss Women Innovating Together with host Jeremy Brown, and how our nonprofit is making the FileMaker community a better place for women.

Please find a full transcript below: 

Jeremy: Welcome to The Context Podcast, sponsored by Geist Interactive. I’m your host, Jeremy Brown. In today’s episode, we sit down and chat with two leaders of Women Innovating Together, WIT for short, Susan and Vanessa. This nonprofit was formed almost accidentally and it has grown to a powerhouse influencer in the FileMaker community. Susan and Vanessa speak about WIT’s purpose and its goals and its activities across the entire FileMaker world. From buddies to mentors, WIT seeks to empower women to step up and engage in the FileMaker community and be a strong developer, and they do it pretty well, I must say. It was great to talk with some of the leaders of WIT. I learned a lot about what they’re doing and how they’re changing the community for the better. Welcome, Women Innovating Together. How are you today?

Susan: Great, Jeremy. Thanks so much for having us.

Jeremy: I’ve got Susan here and Vanessa of the Women Innovating Together group. You two are the leaders of the organization.

Susan: So this is Susan. I am the lead facilitator, and so I lead all of the committee members. And Vanessa is our event chair, so she is front and center in a lot of things that you see out in the public.

Jeremy: All right. Well, Susan, why don’t you introduce yourself more formally? Tell us who you are, what you do, and all that stuff.

Susan: Sure. I have been in the FileMaker world since, I’m dating myself, 1989. I started in FileMaker Claris, and now it turns out we’re back there. Once we got to FileMaker 6, I kind of got out of my comfort zone there and became more of a power user. I then went into the project management world. I worked for a platinum partner for six years. And post that, I have set off on my own business as a project management and operations consultant. I have a lot of FileMaker clients and I love serving that community. So that’s part of why I got involved with Women Innovating Together, is to help promote more women into that world.

Jeremy: Wonderful. Well, welcome. Thank you for coming on and talking with us. Vanessa, who are you?

Vanessa: Well, so my actual first experience with FileMaker was probably in grade school. My dad was developing FileMaker at the time, and I had wanted to make a database to manage my birthday card thank yous, I didn’t want to write out all the addresses. So that was kind of my first exposure to using FileMaker. It’s grown and changed since then. And my journey has been a winding one at times. I’ve been in at out of the FileMaker world at different times in my professional career. But I’m currently back.

I’m in management business development and technology development for our company. And my first exposure to Women Innovating Together was actually an invitation to the luncheon at my first DevCon. That really opened me up to kind of this whole world of women in technology, and looking at how that’s grown and changed in the last 10 years has been really exciting. I would say it’s been an interesting journey for us as an organization, and I think we’ve kind of seen that globally as well. And it’s been really exciting to be a part of that.

Jeremy: Wonderful. So it seems to me that Women Innovating Together sort of started … Did it really start at those luncheons at DevCon?

Susan: It did.

Jeremy: Okay.

Susan: So for so long, it was more like we were women who lunched. Right?

Jeremy: Women who lunch, okay.

Susan: It was such a small group, and it started. Vanessa, do you remember? I think you did the research at one point for one of the events to find out how long ago, or when the first luncheon was.

Vanessa: Yes. I think the first one was officially in 1999.

Jeremy: Oh, wow. Okay.

Vanessa: And that was actually with four people.

Susan: Yeah.

Vanessa: And that kind of grew a little bit each year. And I’m trying to pull up my notes here from last year’s DevCon. But at one point then, that turned into a luncheon. And then that luncheon has slowly grown and kind of exploded I would say in the last three to four years.

Jeremy: Yeah. I would agree with that assessment. It went from lunchtime on Tuesday or Wednesday, and it’s turned into this big nonprofit.

Susan: Yes.

Jeremy: You had a different name to start, and that was the … Was that just your first decision to make it a formal organization?

Susan: Right. So we were Women of FileMaker forever. And it was not any sort of a formal group. It was just a group. We were just women in the FileMaker world, not that there’s anything just about that. It was pretty exclusive. And then at the end of 2018 after the 2019 DevCon, we decided that we wanted to become a formal group, especially since we were offering scholarships. We didn’t want to have this money that people were donating just floating around between random women who offered their bank account up for that year. It’s not really kosher. So we went into … We asked FileMaker for permission to use the name. And not surprisingly, they did not approve of it. I mean, if you’re a registered trademarked name, you really don’t want your name in another company name.

Susan: So we went out on the search for: What can we name ourselves? And as you know, at that 2018 DevCon, they had started the workplace innovation platform. And so Women Innovating Together kind of arose out of that. We did a whole poll of the community. We took a ton of options as names, voted on them, and then narrowed them down, did research on those, and then did a final vote to come up with our name.

Jeremy: What is the purpose of Women Innovating Together? What’s your mission?

Susan: So our mission statement is to provide resources to help women succeed in their careers as FileMaker developers. And one of the things you’ll note is that we have a lot of members, Vanessa and I both are not developers. And so we’re some of the resources out there. Vanessa is a project management operations person for her company. I serve the community in that way. We have marketing members. We have just business analysts that work directly with clients and don’t do programming. So we have a lot of different types of members that help support the community as a whole to help those developers come along.

Jeremy: And you’re not a FileMaker developer, right? You do project management.

Vanessa: Correct. Project management, pretty much anything that’s not development on a daily basis.

Jeremy: What kind of resources do you as a non-FileMaker person provide for the community?

Vanessa: Yeah. One of my big roles is to really plan our events, and so it’s finding out what we think the best way is to provide those networking opportunities for our members and for the women in the community and to get to where they want in their careers. So whether it’s a luncheon at DevCon, this last year, we tried out hosting a chocolate party open house, which was really a hit. And so it’s finding those ways that we can connect people. I’m also involved kind of on our leadership team in general as we plot our initiatives for the year, as we look at: What are the best ways to reach new members, to reach new people, and to organize ourselves as a group?

So taking some of those kinds of project management skills and transferring them over to: How do we get this organization up and running? And working with Susan a lot to look at a lot of those things, and put some of our processes in place as a group internally.

Jeremy: You see that there’s a need in the FileMaker community to support the women of the community to get to where they go, they want to go. Right? You see it out there. You found the need, and your organization is here to solve that problem.

Susan: Right. Absolutely. So one of the things that you … It’s known in today’s world, is that women don’t necessarily have the same, I don’t want to say skillset, because we have it, maybe it’s confidence to stand up and ask for the same thing a man would in the same situation. That’s one of the reasons that I’m really drawn to this. I don’t know if you can tell, I am very outgoing. I am pretty confident. And that’s one of the things, one of the characteristics that I want to bring to the women, is you are as strong and powerful as you know you are internally, so let’s show the world that. Also, ask for the rate that you’re worth, and ask for the raise that you deserve.

And don’t just wait for those things to happen for you. So that’s one of the things I see. The other, and Vanessa, you might be able to speak to this more, is that many young women are not really that interested in tech.

Vanessa: Yeah. I think there’s definitely a gap. I’m probably in a minority of that group, just based on my background. And so I think the people I’ve surrounded myself with were getting their master’s of science and doing kind of more tech-focused jobs and industries. So it’s a little harder for me to speak to that. But I think from some of the research I’ve seen, there are gaps at even going down to the grade school level. Looking at kind of children’s interests and what they are interested in and what they would like to do, and then really looking at kind of STEM education overall, and from some of the things I’ve read.

Vanessa: And so for me, that’s what’s really exciting, is to look at my little cousins, or my friends’ children and try and get help. What steps can we pave to help them become interested, to give them to opportunities, and to spark that interest to get them into technology? Whether it’s coding, or looking at AI, or data analytics, or data visualization, whatever that might be, or engineering, and to pave the way and to create spaces where that can be encouraged. And I think Women Innovating Together is really one of those steps on that path.

Susan: One of the interesting stories that we can speak to in regard to that, I’m not going to call her out by name, but a young woman, who was not a developer, came with her boyfriend to a DevCon. I believe it was 2017. And she ran into Molly Connolly and some of the other women by the pool one day, and just started talking to them. And even though her boyfriend was in the FileMaker world, it had never crossed her mind that women could do this. Fast forward to PauseOnError in 2018, that Women of FileMaker at that time were the hosts of. And she spoke there about how she’s now a developer. So that the impact of women seeing other women doing it is very important.

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Jeremy: So one of your missions is to get to women in their younger age and sort of foster their growth, kind of push them, find the people who are interested in technology and guide them along that way. I notice that you didn’t use the word FileMaker very much in there. You were talking about coding and all this other. So I’m interested if your focus is a little bit more wide, wider than just FileMaker. But also, the fact that most FileMaker developers of any gender stumble into it. That’s sort of that theme. How do you think about getting women specifically to stumble into FileMaker?

Susan: So interesting you should ask that. Vanessa’s giggling a little bit too because we just had this conversation about two weeks ago. We have a new committee, and it’s called the Educational Outreach Committee. It is going to be head by Makah, who you had on your last episode, who was formerly the mentorship lead. And the goal of that committee is going to be to do more outreach to colleges and perhaps high schools. It’s just forming, but that is our goal, is to go and greet those women head-on and tell them that, hey, here is an option for you to make a career out of, not for you to fall into after maybe your music degree didn’t go where you wanted it to go. As you know, so many people are in, have music history here in our field.

Susan: And to your other part of your question, in regard to it being FileMaker or other technology, that is a question that we’re going to address. As you know, Claris has changed not FileMaker. FileMaker is still there. But they’re expanding into other things. And that’s something as a group we’re going to have to talk about, is: Are we going to expand to try to find more women for these other products that Claris might bring along? Or are we going to stay focused on FileMaker? And that’s to be determined. We have not sorted that out yet. But as for now, we are very focused on FileMaker.

Jeremy: Okay. But you don’t see yourself necessarily working with JavaScript or another web, even just web development, straight web development. You want to focus on what the Claris brand brings to the table. Is that right?

Susan: Yes. That’s the goal. There are other women’s groups that quite honestly are much bigger than we are that focus on that. There is a Women in Technology national organization that has local chapters everywhere that focus on that. Now to the end of JavaScript and PHP and how those things support a FileMaker developer, we would try to encourage women to expand to learn those skillsets as well, so that they’re more versatile.

Vanessa: I think one of the things that I started doing is going through different FileMaker company website job postings, and just look at: What are the skills people are looking for? What are they asking people to know? What skill sets and competencies are they asking them to come in with and apply for jobs with? And those are the skills that we need to develop within our community. How do we make people the most marketable? A lot of those postings aren’t only asking for FileMaker skills. And so how do we foster that to set up our community in the best way possible to advance their careers?

Jeremy: So Women Innovating Together is here to support people in their FileMaker and possibly Claris Connect and other applications journeys. What are you doing in the community? What activities are you up to, to keep yourself visible so that women can find you and use your resources?

Susan: So we have a website. It’s womeninnovatingtogether.org. On that, you can see all of the things we offer, which are mentoring, which is for men, for or by men or women. So that’s a function that we offer to the entire community. You can be a mentor either way, and you can be a mentee either way. And it doesn’t only have to be technology. It can be a business. I have a mentee who I’m working with in regard to starting his own business. And you’re able then to develop those skill sets of teaching as a mentor, which really cements more in your head. I’ve heard so many mentors say that they learn just as much as their mentee does.

And the mentees then come back with so many great resources, just even meeting more people in the community, so that they have more people to ask. The people that have volunteered their services as mentors have been very giving and very willing to help and introduce and all of those great things to pull people into the community.

Susan: So I think that that’s a great program, and that gets us out there. We do need more mentors, so if you are hearing this, please go sign up. You don’t have to know everything to be a mentor. You can just know one thing really well. And that can be the thing that we match you upon. So it is matched. The other thing that we’re doing is we do offer scholarships to first-time attendees at DevCon that are women. You do have to be a woman to actually win that. We collect, we do raise money for that. So here’s my big ask.

We need donations so that we can keep sending and bringing these women to DevCon. We have an application process online, so if you have never attended DevCon before, and as a woman, you would like to, please go out and fill out an application. We’d love to be able to connect with you, meet with you, and evaluate you as part of one of the potential recipients.

Susan: The scholarship is for a full ride. You get the training day as well as the entire conference. Last year, we were also able to offer the hotel as part of it. All you had to do was get yourself there. So I know some people work for companies that don’t pay for their trip. This is great, also, for internal developers to just take the vacation week, buy your plane ticket, and we can get you there on scholarship hopefully. We do have a lot of applicants, so it also makes your application sound needy.

Jeremy: You’re also part of the FileMaker community itself, right? In the forums, I see you in there. I see Beverly in there quite a bit. Who else do you know of that’s in there regularly?

Susan: We have a lot of women in there. Barb Levine, Karen Stella, you’ll see a lot of them responding to questions. But Bev is definitely the one that you see high up on those leader boards all the time. And so we do participate in there. As a group too, we have our own Slack channel and our own Facebook if you are a member of the organization, where it’s a private, women only, only member place where you can also ask those types of questions. Sometimes we then direct you back out to the bigger community if you’re not getting your question answered fast enough. But it gives a comfortable place to say, “I don’t know,” which sometimes women struggle with in the world of the male voices trying to maybe show off a little bit to each other.

Jeremy: Yeah, maybe. It’s good that you’re visible throughout the FileMaker community. Your presence is huge at DevCon, or at the conferences. You had a booth last year and sponsored the luncheon. Also, you had a chocolate party. I assume all of that was really well attended, and it was a blast to be in there. Right?

Susan: Yes. The DevCon events, the booth was amazing. And I believe we’ve done a booth now for two years. Two years that I remember volunteering for, possibly three. I apologize if I have that wrong, Laramie. But no, the booth was great. There were, at least when I was there, there always seemed to be people there asking questions, getting connected. It was a great place to be able to talk about some of our different initiatives like mentoring and DevCon buddy and the luncheon and just different ways for people to get involved, but also some tech talk as well. And hey, I’ve been having this problem. Oh, let me set you up with this person. I know they’ve dealt with that before. So it’s just great energy and the environment to see that.

Susan: As far as our events, our luncheon was well attended, and it was really great to get to see all of the different women coming together, kind of in one place in that one room for even just that short hour during DevCon, during that busy week of DevCon. And the chocolate party was one that I had no idea what to expect. That was the big question mark for me going into DevCon. And I was blown away. People from all over the world bringing chocolate from all over the world, and just sharing stories and having that space to just meet and interact, and not only learn about what we as Women Innovating Together do, but to learn just more about the different people in our own FileMaker community.

And that one was open to whoever wanted to attend. And I would say we had pretty equal representation, possibly a few more women, which was kind of cool to see at a DevCon event. So that was really exciting. Yeah, that one blew me out of the water as far as how well that went.

Jeremy: I must say I really appreciate the DevCon buddy initiative, which now I’ll maybe engage buddy or something.

Susan: Engage with your buddy. I don’t know we’ll have to come up with a plan.

Jeremy: Engage with your buddy. Yeah, there we go. I remember very distinctly my first time, my first DevCon was in 2012. And it was in Miami Beach, didn’t know anybody. It was a really tough time to get through. I was really inspired by all the sessions. But it was tough not knowing anybody there. Right? So you all took that on. And as I recall last year, I wasn’t able to see it this year, but last year there were quite a few people in there, both buddies and new people that could connect. And I hear the game was very successful. Right?

Susan: The game was a blast. So for the people that don’t know what it is, one of the things that we decided to sponsor was that rookie attendee, just like Jeremy was talking about at DevCon, it’s overwhelming. There are so many people. Everybody seems like they know each other, so you seem like you’re the outsider. You don’t know where to go, and you don’t know whose sessions are good. And you don’t know what tailors best to you. So how do you pick? They’re running side by side. So we formed DevCon buddy, where we actually match rookies up with former, with people who’ve been there before.

Susan: We call them ambassadors. So the ambassador might actually have more than one buddy if we need to do that. There is an opening session that FileMaker hosts and they’ve always hosted this, which is for first-timers. And we asked FileMaker if we could help them with that about, I think we started three years ago. And we were able to get permission to engage with them and to help. They now support us in supporting them, which is great. So we match people up, and then that buddy, that ambassador is with you throughout DevCon to help guide you, to introduce you to people, and to point you towards the right events to get to know more about the area that you’re looking into.

Jeremy: Yeah. There’s a bingo game, right? Where I think Makah and you all put it together, where you have to go around and meet the CEO of a company or attend … I don’t know. There were a lot of different activities. Right?

Susan: Yeah. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and it’s built-in FileMaker. So you’re actually using FileMaker to play the game, so it’s really neat.

Vanessa: This really got pretty competitive as well. It was pretty fun to see people right out of the gate. I had four at the end of the buddy reception. I’m going to win by tomorrow. People got pretty into it. It was great.

Jeremy: Do you limit your activities to this United States DevCon? Or are you in the other conferences around the world as well?

Susan: So FileMaker reached out to us to ask if we could have a presence at the European DevCons. Each country in Europe has its own DevCon, usually in the month of October, which is coming up. And we have found for almost all of the local DevCons, a woman who is going to have a little mini, I guess recruiting type session to speak to the women, to bring them into our fold, so to speak, make them aware that we exist. We had scholarship winners from other countries as well. I think we’ve had Sweden.

Vanessa: Spain.

Susan: And Japan. So we are also global. What’s important to us, is that we’re talking to all FileMaker women, not just American women. We’re also talking about being part of APAC. And I’ll let Vanessa speak to that one.

Vanessa: Great. And as far as APAC, we’re really excited. We met up with the organizer for that at US DevCon this year. And there will be a, I believe, coffee or tea hour during one of the mornings of their session, where people will be able to hear about Women Innovating Together and our initiatives and how they can get involved. We will also have, I think, a short video, just kind of about what our different committees do. We would love to have more involvement globally with the women in the greater FileMaker community.

I know one of our asks kind of on our get involved side of things is that we do get women involved from different geographies around the world because the more women we have involved kind of in our committees and within our leadership team, the better we can help and serve different areas of the world.

Vanessa: So it’s kind of hard to host an event when you don’t have anyone involved that are living there. So we’re really looking to get women involved in APAC in Europe in the different areas where FileMaker has a heavy presence in order to be able to grow those events and to grow our outreach there. But we’re excited to start where we are this year.

Susan: To that end, we have two committee leads that are not in America as well. Sarah Beete is our scholarship lead, and she’s in England. And Magalie Jeune is French, and she is our database manager. So we even have participation from other countries at the leadership level.

Jeremy: Wonderful. You mentioned finding more people, and you have a website for this. But explain to us how we can get involved, anybody could get involved, to support Women Innovating Together.

Susan: We have shortened it to WITfm.

Jeremy: WITfm. Okay. I’ll say that from now on.

Susan: Yeah. It’s a lot easier to … It rolls off the tongue a little easier. We have our goal as leaders to not to be leaders forever. We’re always looking for our replacement because that’s one of the things that we want to offer is the ability to learn as a leader and to be able to be in a leadership position. So I’m always looking for my replacement. Vanessa’s always looking for hers. So there’s always that opportunity for growth. Because of being an official 501-C3, we do have elected leaders at this point. We’re going to have our first election here next year, probably in the summer.

And there are I think three or four positions that are elected. So we’ll be publicizing that more. We do have quarterly meetings as well, where we share this information publicly. Those meetings are posted through our various social media to share with the public. And anyone can attend those, so men or women are welcome to attend.

Susan: The thing we’re always looking for is committee members, anybody that’s willing to help. It is amazing how much stuff we have going on and how many people we need to help with it. We are 100% volunteer. No one gets paid. So the more people to spread the work, the better. We have multiple committees. We work. Mentorship is definitely a way that everyone could get involved, again, men or women in that mentoring world. Scholarships, you can definitely donate. That’s another way to get involved. We have multiple committees. So we have people running our booth every year. That happens just around the conference time, most of the work there. We have a business committee that helps us with all of our paperwork, with all of our elections, with our bylaws, those types of things.

Susan: I mentioned a database manager. Donor relations, that’s our giving chairperson. We are looking for a replacement for the lead position there. We have educational outreach. That’s the brand new committee that Makah’s leading, so we’re definitely looking for a lot of committee members there. We have events, which Vanessa leads. And Vanessa, I believe you’re looking for a replacement as well.

Vanessa: Yes. Ideally, we would love to have someone that can come on and shadow for the upcoming 2019, 2020 donor year with the intent of taking over at the end of this current cycle. We’re also looking, as I mentioned, for events team members. We would love to add international members as we really explore what WITfm looks like in our global community.

Susan: And I’m going to keep going because it’s big. So we have a marketing department. Department, a marketing committee. That’s led by Karen Stella. And any of the artwork that you saw at DevCon, she actually built and put together. She has been designing, helping with the design of the website as well. And she can always use some help. That’s a big thing to carry. We have a, as discussed, mentoring, scholarship, and then website as well. Agnes Riley has taken the lead of the website administrator. We do need some help there. We’re constantly updating and changing the website, and we have so many things we want to do. We just don’t have enough time to get to it. So there is room for women to get involved.

Jeremy: Not only are people using your resources, but they are part of the resource as well. They’re part of the group as well. Right?

Vanessa: Correct.

Jeremy: Can people kind of do both at the same time is what I’m asking.

Susan: Absolutely. You can participate in some and lead others, and just attend others.

Jeremy: Okay. Yeah.

Susan: We have virtual meetings once a month that a lot of us participate or attend. That is just led by one person. Then we have Slack channels and Facebook pages, where you can interact if you’re a member. So we are also driving to have more members join. One of the challenges of becoming a real organization that has real requirements of doing things is that you start to have some operational overhead. And that is something that we’re trying to offset by the membership. Membership is $5 a month or $60 a year. You can pay for it either way. And that offsets those operational costs so that all of our donations can continue to go to scholarships 100%.

Jeremy: Nice. So you talked a lot about how people can get involved in WITfm. It’s WITfm, right?

Susan: Yes.

Jeremy Brown: You said, “WITfm.”

Susan: Correct.

Jeremy: Okay. But I’m curious. And I asked this for the other nonprofit that I talked with. How can Claris Partners get involved? How can they support Women Innovating Together?

Susan: So that’s a great question. And Vanessa’s company, Recruiting Pro, is a Claris Partner. My company, Beyond the Chaos, is a Claris Partner. So that’s one way, you can come to be a leader if you’re a Claris Partner. But I think you’re asking more broadly. Claris Partners absolutely can support. There’s actually even a mentorship path for people who want to become Claris Partners, and we’re looking for Claris Partners to be mentors to help people become a Claris Partner, so that’s one way. Obviously, donations are another. You can donate to support our scholarships.

And for any of the Claris Partners who employ women, and we hope you all do, you can encourage them to join. It would be fantastic if you had a team that perhaps you offered to pay their dues even if that is something that you’re able to do for your company. We’d love to have them participate.

I know that one of the things that it helps with is to get a voice and a presence out into the community. So there’s a little bit of advertising that can happen for a Claris Partner in return for them to support this as well.

Jeremy: Another thing I was thinking of too is that I work with clients. Some of them are just the users of the app that I’m building, but some of them are also developers. And if any of them happen to be women in that group of people that also tinker around in the file and make changes, I, as a Claris Partner, can say, “Hey. There’s this group. Would you be interested in … You should check it out.”

Susan: That would be fantastic because we struggle so much with how to reach internal FileMaker developers. How do we connect to them? In the world where they are the consultants, everybody’s looking for that community. But in the world where they are an employee of a company that is not a FileMaker company, it is hard for them to even know that we exist.

Jeremy: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, that’s a great way for Claris Partners and other consultancies to spread the word about WITFM.

Vanessa: Definitely. And that’s a great also place to tell people about our scholarship. Maybe that would be someone that would be really interested in coming to their first DevCon and immersing themselves in that experience.

Jeremy: You just reminded me that I did a training session at DevCon this year. And I think one of the WITFM scholarship attendees or winners was part of my session. Again, I won’t call her out. But she’s from Colorado. Is that correct? Do you know who I’m talking about?

Susan: Yes.

Jeremy: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Actually, she and I, I know her father. He was part of my user group out there, so it was an interesting connection to see that.

Susan: It is interesting to see the children of the original FileMaker developers coming into this world. I know Vanessa, you relate to that.

Vanessa: I do. Yes. My first DevCon was actually at one of the Disney resorts. And it was sitting by the pool not attending sessions. [inaudible 00:41:32] along as a this is your vacation for the week while I go work. You guys can go sit by the pool. My DevCon experience has changed throughout the years, that’s for sure.

Jeremy Brown: Here’s a million-dollar idea I’m going to give to you. I always thought it would be great to develop a little picture book about FileMaker for young people. I had some friends who had young children, and I thought it would be interesting to try to write a book that introduces the concepts of database theory, relational theory, to preschoolers.

Susan: Oh, wow.

Jeremy: I don’t know if that’s … I don’t know. Anyway, that’s a million-dollar idea if you want to take it.

Susan: A good one.

Jeremy: Tell me what the current state of Women Innovating Together in FileMaker, as far as percentages, I guess, or just … I guess I’m interested in that, first of all. I see at DevCon, here’s what I see. We see other conferences, they struggle to get women to present. They’re always asking for, and the percentage is really low. It seems like FileMaker DevCon has really worked hard to get more women speakers, to get more women speakers to be a part of DevCon. And I assume that’s partly what you all are doing. But just tell me more about what is going on in the FileMaker community for the women that are on the platform.

Susan: FileMaker very much is encouraging different voices and diversity. I don’t know if you saw the Claris commercial that they made that went out for the problem-solvers problem solver after 2019 DevCon. But they used speakers in that commercial. And it’s very inspiring, actually. I liked it a lot, and it’s not just because I’m in it. Yes, I was in it. But what I liked most about it was the diversity of the people, different races, different sexes, different not all white women either. It was a wide range of personalities and diversity, which was so refreshing to see.

Susan: And FileMaker’s looking for that. They ask every year at our luncheon that more women submit topics, especially technical topics. And they are very open to doing that. We as an organization will help you prepare your presentation to FileMaker, so your application submission. Then we will then also help you prep your session. One of the things that we tried to do this last year is open up our virtual meetings to the women who were presenting to let them even have a trial run at their presentation before they got there. It’s not in front of a room, but it is in front of other people. And that garnered some good feedback.

Susan: We have a Slack channel that we can discuss with any people to give input, or any women to give input into things that they might be struggling with as they’re preparing their presentation as well. So we really do encourage that. And FileMaker does too. They are all in, in supporting that.

Jeremy: Do you think more women are coming to the platform?

Susan: I think so. And Vanessa, you might be able to answer this more from an event standpoint. It’s kind of an eyeball thing.

Jeremy: Sure.

Susan: Claris does not ask on any piece of information, any demographic information. So it’s hard to know. But Vanessa, based on the events, what do you think?

Vanessa: I would say it’s hard to tell. I know we saw a huge spike going from 2017 to 2018. We had doubled what our expected luncheon attendance was for that year, year over year. But it’s also hard to tell how much of that is based on conference growth, or if it’s an indeed higher representation. So it’s a little bit hard to tell. It feels, just from a feels standpoint, I would say I had to wait in a bathroom line last year, so I thought that was pretty cool. I had never had that happen before at DevCon.

Jeremy: That’s always a good sign, right? I guess.

Vanessa: We don’t have the actual numbers. As Susan said, it’s kind of hard to gauge that accurately when we don’t have the access to the numbers.

Susan: The New Orleans Pause on Error had more women speakers than men speakers. I think it was really close to even as far as attendance. But that has to be one of the first times that I’ve seen that many women at a tech conference. I go to other tech conferences as well. I went to one, they probably had 150. It was a small one, 150, 200 people there. And there were three women, and two of them worked for the company. So yeah, I think we’re doing a good job of attracting more women and making them feel welcome. And we hope that we continue to do that to the point that we’re not needed anymore.

Jeremy: You’re right. The different voices are great to hear. So it’s good that you are getting out there and really encouraging people, women, and supporting their progression through this process and giving them a place to kind of just rest and just talk and be amongst yourselves, so that you can support each other and help each other get through this craziness.

Susan: Well, yes. And you know, I know it’s not politically correct to say things like this. But I’m going to say it anyway because I’m not PC. Women talk differently than men do, and that’s okay. And this gives you a place to talk that way.

Jeremy: Nice. What can we expect from Women Innovating Together in the coming year up to DevCon? Is there anything exciting happening? Are you going to be part of Pause on Error again? Or what other things are you working on?

Susan: Well, you know Pause on Error has a new CEO.

Jeremy: They do, yes.

Susan: And it’s a woman. Martha Zink is the new CEO of Pause. So it’ll be interesting to see what she does with that. Very proud of having a woman in charge of that group. That’s going to be amazing. So yes, you will see something there, I’m sure. As far as what we’re doing, the growth and the things we’re tackling, it’s only limited by our time, honestly. And I know Vanessa has had this experience too with the events. There’s so much we want to do.

Vanessa: Yeah.

Susan: But we all have jobs too.

Jeremy: Vanessa, did you have something to add there?

Vanessa: Yeah. I would say the things that I’m really excited about for this coming year that are currently really in the works and kind of running are, and that exposure at the different DevCons, at the international DevCons, so in Europe, APAC. We are so excited to have been asked to be involved in those. And we feel very honored that FileMaker has come to us and asked for us to have that involvement. We’re excited to grow that international community and to see how that really changes our dynamic as a group. I think bringing in different voices and different cultures is something that I’m really excited for. Can’t wait to see how that unfolds. And I’m very excited to see where that goes.

Vanessa: I think another thing in this next year that we’ve talked about is just really growing that membership base. So I’m reaching out to people and really providing that benefit of that community and that safe space to come and talk. And I’m excited to see how that unfolds, as that something that really has just started.

Jeremy: You all you accepting scholarship donations currently. Is that correct?

Susan: Correct.

Vanessa: Always. Always.

Jeremy: Always. Always.

Susan: Easy button on our website. It’s like three clicks.

Jeremy: How many people are you going to try to send? Do you have a goal? Or do you just send as many people as you have money for?

Susan: Our goal is not to do more than four because, at some point, it becomes not something that’s special if you’re just sending everyone. We do want to apply … We do want to evaluate the applications. So it will probably not be more than four unless something dramatic changes. But it is up to four, so it is based on how much money we raise. We do want to be able to support and pay for the hotel as part of the scholarship.

We know that that’s a limiting cost because many of these hotels are very expensive, and it is many days. But we also want the women to have skin in the game, so we will probably never cover the travel. So we want them to participate and engage in that commitment. But we want to pay for as much as we can on those scholarships. So it all depends on how much we raise. Have I asked for money enough yet?

Jeremy: Not enough, I don’t think. So go ahead, do it one more time.

Susan: We need money. Go to the website. Hit the donate button.

Jeremy: I’ll make sure and link that in our notes.

Susan: Thank you.

Jeremy: Very good, Susan and Vanessa. I want to thank you for joining me. You are part of the Women Innovating Together organization. But you’re also separate and do your own thing, so I want to give you a chance to tell us what you individuals are working on, where people can find you, anything you want to promote, shout out. Susan.

Susan: My company is Beyond the Chaos. I help small businesses with their operational and project management systems. We also offer project management services as well. You can find me at beyondthechaos.biz. And I am currently working with many FileMaker developers, so always looking in this community as well as outside of the community for those small businesses that are trying to grow.

Jeremy: Nice. All right. Be sure to look her up, folks. Vanessa, where can people find you?

Vanessa: So I’m at Recruiting Pro Software. And actually, one of the big projects I am working on now is in celebration of our 25th year in business. We are actually looking at renaming the company. And we’ve changed and grown and evolved in our 25 years in business. And so we are now looking to find a name that reflects that. So that is one of the big projects I’m working on right now. And I’m really excited to kind of help redefine what our goal and mission are.

And we’ve been really excited to work with a lot of different small businesses over the last 10 years or so to develop custom solutions after having a vertical market solution for the first 15 or so years of the company. So it’s been fun to see how things have changed, and to put some of those processes in place and to be involved in that. And so, yeah, we’ve been excited to work with some fun new clients, and looking forward to where that custom development takes us.

Jeremy: I hear the name FileMaker Inc is available.

Susan: I hear it might be trademarked.

Jeremy: Oh, okay. Okay, well. Well, thank you, Susan and Vanessa, for your time. I really appreciate it. And I appreciate the work that you do with the Women Innovating Together organization. Geist Interactive definitely supports you. We’ll keep shouting out this and reminding people to donate. And also, just telling people about you, the women that we run across in our daily work. So thank you very much.

Susan: Jeremy, you are a great supporter. We appreciate you and Todd and the whole Geist company tremendously. Thank you so much for offering this forum to us. And we appreciate being here. Thank you.

Jeremy: Thank you. You have a good day. I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for joining me. Thank you for listening to The Context Podcast, sponsored by Geist Interactive. The Context Podcast is all about FileMaker and the technology that we use within the context of FileMaker. The Context Podcast is found on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Please subscribe. Let us know what you think. Give us a rating and a review. Send us feedback and let us know what topics you would like us to talk about. See you next week.

 

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