I've attended several local meetups this year. Being new to tech can be daunting because you don't know anyone, and you might feel that you don't fit in.
As a woman, it can also be intimidating because you might be the only woman present.
I'm pretty extrovert in such situations, so it was never a problem for me. But I can understand if others might feel uncomfortable.
(I never experienced prejudices or sexism at meetups, though, I was always on equal footing with other attendees.)
The atmosphere was friendly, and I never felt weird. Many people were even surprised when they learned that I don't work as a programmer, so I was never the odd one out.
Lots of folks were happy to hear that I've taught myself to code and were encouraging me to continue.
RuhrJS 2019 took place last weekend. It was my first tech conference.
The first thing that I noticed about the schedule was that there are several female speakers.
During the opening, Madeleine emphasized the importance of the code of conduct.
They had a care team that was available if you experienced problems.
The conference offered diversity tickets. If you belong to an underrepresented group, you can attend the conference for free.
There also was a Conference Buddy booth. If you were new to tech, didn't know anyone, or you were afraid of going alone to a conference, you could visit the booth and find someone who would support you.
All of those factors added up to a community conference that felt very welcoming and inclusive.
I loved how you were part of a group of fellow tech enthusiasts. And that being queer didn't raise any eyebrows.
While I did know some people beforehand, I'm sure it wouldn't have been a problem to attend the conference without acquaintances.
I got to meet so many interesting people.
For me, RuhrJS 2019 was an ideal first conference for a newbie.
Being new to tech can feel scary, but there are a lot of folks who go out of their way to make you feel welcome.