By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Vicky Lee, super connected coding woman around town.

What’s your background briefly?

Tech event organiser and mentor advocating diversity in tech, coder and cat hugger.

How did you end up doing what you do now?

Diversity-wise, it was from a brain-storming session with a few female devs and my husband one day about our concerns on the number of girls attending coding clubs at the time and why they don’t stay back in the summer of 2012. We formed Coding Grace, but it we didn’t do much until the May 2013 as most of us were working full-time. I started running adult female-friendly workshops in 2013 and it took off from there.

I’ve always been interested about women in tech as I have been searching for my peers for quite a long time during my career working in the industry and running Python Ireland user group events.

In general, running and organising tech events stretches back to mid-2005 when I took over running Python Ireland, then chaired the first 4 PyCon Ireland conferences. Between all this and Coding Grace, I joined WITS Ireland as a member (now an executive member), founded PyLadies Dublin, co-organised Dublin’s first Django Girls Dublin workshop, partnered with other female-friendly organisations to run social events and also one of the board members of Women Who Code Dublin recently launched late last year. Curiosity on how to improve on events and conferences got me involved with the EuroPython Society who runs the annual EuroPython conferences. I also co-founded GameCraft Foundation where we bring a community together and make games.

You’re involved in many things, how do you manage to give them all time / balance your interests?

My interests revolve around many of the things I’m involved in, Python, design, games, anything geeky and techie.

What tips would you give to young people inspired by you who want to get involved in coding?

Don’t be afraid to try things out, it’s ok to break things. Help others who are struggling, working together shows that you can’t solve something alone. And it’s absolutely fine to ask questions.

Why python? What do you like about it?

It showed me that you can elegantly do small and repetitive jobs and saves time, this was back in the really early days back in 2004, when there’s no such thing as a Python developer. I got my first job as a Python dev through Python Ireland, which was amazing. It is simple to get into, it does the job. It’s not perfect and the it tool to use for everything, but for my needs, it has been Nowadays, I use it to write personal websites and other small projects.

What trends are you excited about in python, will it continue to be such a popular language?

I don’t code in Python as much anymore, I’m more of a hobbyist coder now, with my current focus on more language agnostic events, although I have seen an increase in its popularity with those who analyse and visualise data. Because of the big popularity in Python and data, its toolsets are well developed and supported.

The Dublin / Irish tech scene & Dogpatch. What do you love about it?

Dogpatch Labs has an amazing support for the local grassroots tech community, and while I was on their events team, we made it one of our priorities to provide a great experience for organisers and attendees alike. The venue is geared towards hosting tech events, and they have a great understanding of what the grassroots tech community is about. Space for hosting grassroots tech events is so few around Dublin, and it’s not getting any easier, if it’s not being hosted by a company. Having a company like Dogpatch Labs which has a dedicated space for tech events really makes it a valuable resource for organisers. It’s the inclusiveness and open mindedness which attracted me to join them as their tech community liaison and events coordinator.

What could it do differently?

I think it’s on the right track, there’s not many places like it at the moment where it’s surrounded in tech and startups, and they are very sincere about their support of the community.

How do you manage your life / work, online / offline balance?

It was very hard, but I had a wake-up call from a recent vacation where I was off the grid and I realise I can survive without internet connection for nearly 3 weeks. I didn’t feel guilty about leaving emails alone, I did have an indulgent check-in where I could.

When it comes to weekends, and if I don’t have a workshop on, I try to keep it email free, especially on Sundays. I will leave it till Monday to tackle the email mountain. I was away for a few days in Inishbofin, and like the longer vacation, it was great to be off-grid, go for long walks, enjoy the outdoors, play non-digital games with new and old friends. It only took two holidays this year to realise it’s not the end of the world if I don’t reply to people straight away. All I had to do was prepare myself before I head off, keep a diary of things to do. I still have a lot more work to do to balance family and my work (online and off), but I’m doing it slowly. It’s pretty hard as I’m a little bit of a control freak.


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