Unn Swanström


What I learned from organising an all female code meet-up 💪🏻✨

Are you an aspiring event organiser? Great! You are in the right place, let’s take a look at some of the things i learned from organising tech events in Stockholm.

The year I spent as organiser of The Code Pub, an all female code meetup, has been pretty darn spectacular! We almost doubled in size, passing the magical 1000 members mark. Did I mention that these members are women, who code, in Stockholm? I haven’t even counted our sisters in Olso, Hamburg, Helsinki or Munich!

People who say there aren’t any competent women out there simply aren't looking hard enough.

Anyhoo, this is what I’ve learned from organising The Code Pub.

Have fun!

The first rule of meet-up organising. If you’re not having fun you should be doing something else. Just sayin.

Organise events you want to go to. Be your audience.

Meet-ups take place in evenings, outside of work. In order for people to give up an evening in their busy, interesting life to come hang out at some company it better be good. As an organiser it’s your job to be the guardian of your members time and well being. The reason you started organising these events is probably because you are interested in the same thing as your members. So use yourself as a ruler. Do you think the event you're planning sounds fun? Would you have attended even if you weren’t organising it?

Ask your members what they like.

Have some kind of forum for talking to your group, we found that using a closed Facebook group was great for striking up conversation with our members. This is where we asked our members what they wanted to learn at upcoming gatherings. So when someone wanted to learn Git or hardware hacking we found the best people to teach us.

We loved hardware hacking with The Queen of Shitty Robots.

Learning stuff is awesome

Meet-ups are for learning stuff and hanging out. When you decide on themes for upcoming events you have ample opportunity to approach smart people and ask them to give a talk about their area of expertise. At The Code Pub we took things one step further and actually wrote code at each event. There are so many fun techniques to learn, everyone is a beginner in some field.

Julia Adamsson. The kind of awesome who makes fuse bead stormtroopers for sick colleagues. 😘

Have an amazing co-host

By having a truly spectacular co-host everything becomes easier, better, and sooo much more enjoyable. You want to find someone who will encourage you to do spontaneous lightning talks when you get a last minute cancellation, someone who manages to borrow 23 MacBooks because she’s so darn delightful, who is smart and makes you laugh.

By sharing the responsibility with someone you will be able to do twice as much in half the time. Two brains are always better than one.

Minimum Lovable Meetup

Since meet-up planning happens after work it is important to spend your time wisely. You can’t do everything! Sit down with your co-host and figure out what matters to you. Take a bunch of post-its and write down what distinguishes a great meet-up from a sub-average meeting. Put one idea on each note. Then start prioritising what is worth your time investment. We prioritised searching for inspiring speakers and partners over designing posters and social media presence. Apply the idea of getting a minimum viable product on the market in order to learn. Then you can iterate and improve!

Learning by doing. We didn’t really get the part about making sure everyone understood straight away that the group was for female coders only. Quite a lot of non-females applied for membership. It got to the point were the autocorrect function on my phone could type my standard decline message on it’s own. See my autocorrect in action here: https://lookback.io/watch/DtFcFEh4MtypHjFZY

How to grow

We didn’t really try to grow, it happened organically. For us having a group on Meetup.com worked pretty great. Make sure it’s clear what your value proposition is and who your group is for. Within seconds of landing on your page (maybe even before landing there?) I should be able to figure out if I belong to your target audience and what I’ll gain from attending one of your events.

Have events regularly, so your community can learn that The Code Pub is the first Tuesday of each month.

Look for fun hosts!

Whenever me and my co-organiser got a crush on a company we asked them to host a meet-up. It turned out to be a fantastic way to learn more about them. We also tapped into that companies network of female developers, thus growing a little each month.

Love your speakers

Make sure your speakers know how much you appreciate them! We sent our speakers flowers.

Handing over the torch

Organising meet-ups is soooo much fun! But make sure to take care of yourself. When you feel that time has come to do something else don’t hesitate to hand over your duties to a new crew of organisers. Find someone who is as excited about the opportunity as you were when you started. This way the community gets new energised leaders and will continue to prosper! Win-win! 👩‍💻💖👩‍💻

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