What do I do when I discover a conference, with technical and professional development content, that also gives all profits to a non-profit which inspires middle school girls about the power of technology? I volunteer, of course! Additionally, I had time for a few deep-dive conversations and quick networking opportunities where I met fascinating people. Here are a few things I learned at the Women in Tech Mid-Atlantic Conference held March 23, 2018.
First, I learned that you can’t spell Artificial Intelligence without the “Art” from Swathi Young (organizer for DC Emerging Technologies). When creating intelligent machines, it’s important to remember to add the human touch involving psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. We must consider that even though something is technically possible, is it also ethically permissible and legally defensible. Apps are the cigarettes of this century! The implications of the Facebook data release to Cambridge Analytica for data mining will be discussed for many moons to come.
Although I did go to one UX session, I’ll finish with one last PD skill we all need to learn. Lauren Hasson taught me how to become a NegotiatHer. It’s easy to be undervalued by an employer when no one in the US talks about salaries. Many times it’s not about how good you are – it’s your ability to communicate the value you bring to your role. First, ground yourself in data. Before any discussion find at least 10 sources to support your salary requirement, to give you leverage and to build confidence. Second, arm yourself with questions to handle any pushback – be prepared, as you would for any interview. Third, know when to walk away. You must be prepared to walk away, decline an offer, only accepting what you are worth.
I had previously given very little thought to any of these topics before this conference. I know they are important. Now I know I have the tools, the words, the structure on how to focus my thoughts and energy around these topics.