Ruby enthusiasts from around the region will descend on Burlington next weekend for the third annual Burlington Ruby Conference. The gathering devoted to the open source programming language takes place next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 2 and 3, at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. It features speakers from around the country, including three Vermonters, who will address a variety of topics, from iOS for web development, to a history of programming.
Organizers say one of their goals this year has been to increase the diversity of attendees. Last year, to that end, they partnered with Burlington’s Girl Develop It chapter, which runs coding classes aimed at teaching adult women to code, and created a statement of diversity.
“It’s key at this juncture to [write a statement of diversity] because it’s not necessarily inherent that people are welcome in the tech community,” says Maureen McElaney, chapter leader for Girl Develop It Burlington, who helped organize the conference this year. “I’m going to be interested to see how the numbers shake out this year. I think we formalized the ladies in tech lunch a little bit more and announced it earlier… so I’ve been noticing that women have been signing up since we posted that.”
Not only did the conference organizers want more women to attend, they’re also excited to have more female speakers. Four of the 13 presenters —including one of the keynotes — are women.
The Ruby Conference had 92 submissions for speakers. Conference organizer Peter Brown created software that helped with the selection process. “I built this application where if you wanted to submit a proposal, there was a form you could fill out all the information, but there was a backend portion of it. I think we had five or six people voting on it, so we went through different rounds,” Brown says. They also removed all identifying information about the candidates at first and only focused on their talk proposals so they could find the most interesting topics possible.
Both Brown and McElaney say they value the unique Ruby community and feel the closeness produces a high number of regional conferences; though the Burlington Ruby Conference is currently the only one in New England. “The Ruby community has a really great group of people involved in it. I think we probably have one of the higher numbers of regional conferences for a language,” Brown says. “You’re not going to see that in other languages.
“Obviously finding the community was really cool. I’ve been involved in the tech community in one way or another for years now and this community is definitely a lot more tight-knit,” McElaney adds.
The organizers of the Burlington Ruby Conference are excited to connect the community at this event — and they say there are still some tickets available. “For me it’s about bringing people together and the conversations that happen in between the talks. That’s why we do 30-minute breaks between each 30-minute talk, because we really value the time that people spend out in the hallway chatting,” Brown says. ” It’s cool to see that kind of stuff happening.”