First time PyLadies presence in Pycon India

The title for the blog post is not something I wrote but copy pasted a tweet by @kushaldas. Kushal is being attending PyCon India since 2010, a year after it started. This one tweet of his says if not the whole but lot of it. So, lets explore our journey of PyLadies in PyCon India

August

In the first week of August I had mailed the PyCon India Organizers requesting a table for PyLadies during PyCon India. But mid August got a reply that they will be unable to give one since we were not the sponsors. Then Rupali got into the matter and she said that Red Hat (the Yoda for PyLadies Pune) would love to give us a space in their booth to promote PyLadies. With the that support we started our planning for PyCon. We had a lot of things to do. The prime of them was that to break to earlier notion about PyLadies in India. A Glibc developer, Siddhesh Poyarekar actually sponsored Python tee shirts for us. This is an example the true diversity and the beauty of the Open Source Community.

Day 0

Went to the venue to check things and the Red Hat booth. Was a little disappointed to see that it is on the last corner, and not in front of the main auditorium. Asked Janki and Dhriti to prepare their lightning talks about their work in Python.

Day 1

The day 1 started with a shrill alarm set at 5:30 in the morning. I had to practice my talk before reaching the venue. In the venue met Nisha (what a relief to see her). Me, Nisha, Pooja, Trishna, Rupali, Janki did all the booth set up ready. Rupali managed to give us a separate table inside the Red Hat booth so that we could keep our stuffs. Nisha had done a great job in designing the posters. Actually the new PyLadies Pune logo fetched attention of many people. Again Red Hat sponsored PyLadies posters too. As we never had the money to print stickers, so we have made print outs of the PyLadies Logo. Trishna made 50 print outs of them. We just cut that out and pined it up on our tee shirts and PyCon India badges. These badges made us noticed. Actually people came and asked but unfortunately we could not give it to everyone (we had only 50 of them and never thought it would be so popular :)). We had the photo prop, the PyLadies Umbrella, I had suggested Nisha to bring it over. Thank you Nisha for making it so nicely.

Then came the tough part going to people and telling them about PyLadies. As we are a group who are starting off, So, when initially I asked if they want to know and come to PyLadies here are some replies I got:

So I was going to people and asking them "Do you want to know about PyLadies?" or "Are you interested in PyLadies?" or "Do you want to join PyLadies?" Here are some answers which I got:

  1. "Do you have PyLadies in India! Never heard of that."
  2. " What is PyLadies?"
  3. " Coming in PyCon India since its inception. Never saw anything happening regarding PyLadies. Does PyLadies exist in India?"
  4. " Do you actually code in PyLadies?"
  5. " I am interested in Python but not in PyLadies."

That was disappointing (but I was not). We actually explained them about PyLadies. Most importantly that what binds PyLadies is the love to code in Python. Then I explained that what we do in our regular Pyladies Pune meet up. In the first half of the meetups we actually learn some Python syntax. In the second half we write code using them, so when we go back home we actually have something which we have created. We also have sessions on things important to contribute in Open Source. We listen to talks. We have a mailing list in which we keep posting problems regularly. After all these explanations the questions changed to:

  1. "How can I join PyLadies?"
  2. "I don't live in Pune, so how can I be apart of it?"
  3. "Can we open our PyLadies Chapter?"
  4. "Can you add me in your mailing list?"
  5. " Is it free?"

I directed them towards the Red Hat booth. Meanwhile Nisha, Puja, Trishna, Rupali answered them. After grabbing a quick lunch we all came back. But I should mention here that Rupali never had her lunch only so that she could be there at the booth. I had my talk on PyPI licensing trends. As soon as my talk ended a guy said "you PyLadies is such vibrant group with people doing such different work."

Day 2

We decided that we should have a PyLadies meet up at the Open Space. Since we are building the PyLadies community in India, we wanted some tips some directions regarding that. We approached Paul Everitt, Dmitry Filippov, Van Lindberg and Jeff Rush for that. The best persons we can have to talk about "how to build a community". We wanted an informal and personal discussion so that the audience could actually connect to it, put up questions and ideas. Rupali started the it with an appropriate note, actually stating what is the scenario of Pyladies in India. Then Paul, Dmitry, Van and Jeff took over the session. Then pointed the following tips about building community : a community

  1. must have a forum for discussion, i.e it should be open to any discussions,
  2. it must have new faces i.e people who can grow the community.
  3. visibility and consistency are the other two primary factors of building a community.
  4. There should be actual contribution and everyone should share their contribution with each other.
  5. The more you read code the more you will learn.
  6. Code reviews should be done in unison.
  7. Strong leadership is another point on which they stressed on.
  8. The leaders should prepare their replacements who will grow the community further.

Such thoughtful insights. They shared their personal experiences that how they started PyCon with very few people and never thought that will grow this big. I had always this question in mind that hat do people mean by technical work? Is legal stuff which I do primarily can be called technical? I asked Van about it and he answered it in affirmative. It was a true personal boost for me. It was really inspiring when they said that PyLadies in India is in safe hands and we are actually going to the correct directions ( I was actually jumping around after that :))

After lunch Trishna gave her Lightning Talk on " Fedora Atomic", which received nice response.

Outcome : What has changed after PyCon India for PyLadies?

In the feedback session I asked that this time we were denied a table, so how can we get it next year? The Organizers replied that as we were late this time they could not give us one. So I have requested for a PyLadies table next year in the conference, a year in advance (we are quite early this time right) So, hopefully we will have one in the next year as they said.

During lunch of day 1 a senior guy (one of the organizers) came to me and said that, "We never knew that you, PyLadies are doing so much actual work. We had some different ideas based on our previous not that good experiences. But we really want to help you guys. Please let us know how can we do that." After the lunch of day 1 we really did not need to go to people anymore, they were actually coming to us, PyLadies. People were thrilled to know that they can actually join and learn coding with us. Many people came to us to know how they can start their own PyLadies Chapter (at least 4). The biggest compliment came at the end of the conference when a group of girls came and said " You, PyLadies rocked PyCon India. Next time we will come for you guys only."

"Came for the language, stayed for the community"

This quote actually echos my feeling after PyCon. I met people like Paul Everitt, Dmitry Filippov, Van Lindberg and Jeff Rush who has made me realize that the more successful you are the more humble you be. For Jeff, I just requested him just before the panel discussion was starting, and he readily agreed, Thank you Jeff for that and also for the valuable advice you have given me. When I approached rest of the panelists for the discussion, they said just to remind them the time. In fact they came in the open space 5 minutes before the due time. So much to learn from you guys not only professionally, but personally too.

Now its a list of PyLadies whom I need to thank:

  • Nisha, I know how tough this was for you to leave your daughter and come here. (I know because I was going through the same thing). You did a great job in everything from making PyLadies Umbrella, designing Posters, Logo to managing the booth, guiding people with how to create their own chapter and every other thing which I am forgetting. I know you were also ready with you Lightning Talk but could not give one because of the unavailability of the slots. Kudos to you lady.

  • Rupali, for giving us a space in the Red Hat booth, sponsoring Posters without which we would not have any presence there in PyCon. Giving the awesome introduction in the PyLadies Open Space and managing the booth so well. You are my inspiration in my ways girl.

  • Trishna, for printing the badges, managing booth, talking to people, giving the Lightning Talk. You don't know girl how many people you inspire.

  • Pooja, this is one member of PyLadies Pune who does all her work silently. She was there everywhere be it the booth duty, talking to people, running around in the whole conference, setting up the booth or writing the mail ids (at 30 of them) for joining PyLadies mailing list and distributing it to everyone in the panel discussion, its a huge job lady. And of course not to forget fetching her husband at the correct time to help us :).

  • Janki, though she was very busy with her voluntary duties she manged to talk to people about PyLadies. Most importantly thank you for getting us the space in Open Space for panel discussion.

  • Devi for supporting us and for saying that she will send some chapters, problems in the mailing list for us to solve.

Also not forget about Dhriti, Nirupama(who came on the spot and helped us), Pusplata, Twinkle and many other. Thank you all for making PyCon India a success for PyLadies. With all our hard work we actually broke the earlier notion about PyLadies in India.

See you Ladies in the next PyCon India 2017.