DevOps Girls 2020 in Review

We all know that 2020 definitely was a challenging year. We got through it though (mostly!). 2020 was also a big year for learning, especially for our DevOps Girls community. Let’s take a moment to reflect on how we adapted and had some really great moments.

First, let’s check the data. We broke the 500 slack community members milestone with 507 members — over 50 more members than last year. Our Twitter followers increased almost daily. We now have 1,321 followers — that’s almost 350 more people who see our content. Our MeetUp page gained an extra 297 members this year, which is more than last year. We also launched our very own Discord Server! We have over 50 people who have joined.

This graph represents the numbers that our community has grown by
We saw our community grow in 2020

Workshops

2020 taught us a lot about adaptability and we started to run things a little bit differently. We moved from our in-person format and ran things virtually.

In January and February, we held 4 in-person Docker 101 workshops. Three of these were held at MYOB and a day-long event at ThoughtWorks. You can read about the ThoughtWorks event HERE.

January was our very first event in Brazil by our Brazilian community member Thaissa Falbo. We hope these will continue once it’s safe to do so in 2021.

Our DevOps Girls Brazil group run by Thaissa Falbo, Jan 2020.
Our DevOps Girls Brazil group run by Thaissa Falbo, Jan 2020.
Our DevOps Girls Brazil group. Serverless workshop run by Thaissa Falbo, Jan 2020.

It was shortly after this strong start to the year, that the world changed. In-person events just wouldn’t be possible and we treaded into uncharted territory — running our events online-only.

We had big hopes of running an AWS Game Day before turning to virtual-only events. Hopefully we can offer this in 2021 either virtual or in-person.

Co-organiser JC was the first to try out the virtual format. He was able to run 3 events across March and April. Firstly using Zoom and then decided to create a Discord server as a way for us to host virtual events.

In August, co-organiser Theresa ran a “DevOps Girls in Testing” workshop. This was another virtual event and was run on a weekend morning. This was our second workshop via Zoom, and as with most things we do, it was experimental. Of the 35 confirms, 21 attendees showed up on the day — and one even as far away as Canada! We used the same curriculum as our physical workshops but instead of pairing with the person next to you, the group was broken up into 2 groups of AWS confidence: 1) still new to AWS, 2) and more confident with AWS. Attendees were encouraged to keep their mics on and talk to each other about progress, questions, issues or concerns. This helpful spirit, and helping others, encourages more learning. See the image further down in this article, just before we wrapped up for the day … with some interesting background wizardry going on ;)

An event we’re really proud of is our collaboration with Indigitek in August. This was a full-day virtual bootcamp covering Docker + Kubernetes 101. We asked people to pay to attend it and was open to everyone; including men. It was a new way of working for us and meant we could help raise approximately $10,000 for a scholarship fund for Indigitek. We loved working with such a great organisation and look forward to working with them again in the future.

We finished the year strong thanks to JC running many more Docker and Kubernetes events. These were smaller scale events with smaller groups. He also ran our first ever Career Development workshop, which looked at how to plan goals and set personal milestones.

In total, there were 15 events run by DevOps Girls in 2020. This is by far the most we’ve ever run as a community! We don’t have 100% accurate numbers for attendance, but we can guess that at least 100 people attended our events over the year.

Here’s some of the key learnings we took from running events virtually:

  • We could connect with more people from around the world
  • Virtual events are more accessible in some ways — for example people who can’t make it to a physical location for any reason
  • Virtual events are, however, harder to run and for attendees to connect with us and with each other
  • It’s hard to get a good group photo for a virtual event
  • Camera’s on is always preferable so you can get immediate feedback from participants
Zoom group photo where virtual backgrounds meant some faces came out a bit ‘funky’.
Zoom group photo where virtual backgrounds meant some faces came out a bit ‘funky’.
Virtual backgrounds made for ‘interesting’ group photos, August 2020

Conferences and Partnerships

A lot of conferences in 2020 were made free or were cancelled completely. This meant there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for DevOps Girls to partner with conferences this year. Virtual fatigue was real for a lot of people, so adding more virtual events was not high on our list of priorities.

Some of our DevOps Girls co-organisers did make the time to be speakers or run workshops for additional events:

A big partnership win for us this year was with Indigitek. Liam and Celeste have been so great to work with and we look forward to more opportunities to making our technical community more diverse and inclusive for First Nations people.

Success Stories

I think we can all agree that surviving 2020 is a success story in its self. It’s been a really challenging year. Based on our community members attending our events, paying for our content and re-Tweeting us, we believe we’ve had a really successful year despite great odds.

Anecdotally, people are really appreciative to being exposed to DevOps concepts and receiving free training. This has led to a few instances of job opportunities for members of our community and members developing interests in specialist areas they hadn’t considered before.

Lessons Learnt

After most of our events we seek feedback. We ask who you are (Developer, Manager, BA etc), we ask whether you learnt something and give our members the opportunities to provide us general feedback. Here’s some lessons we learnt this year:

  • Moving to a virtual format was never going to be able to recreate the awesome community vibe of in-person events;
  • Our community continues to be a majority of developers;
  • Shorter virtual events are better for virtual fatigue/flexibility;
  • People really value the ability to connect with other women in technology, especially in 2020;
  • The right tool is really important when it comes to virtual events;

Thank You Coaches and Volunteers

Our community is supported by an amazing group of volunteers and coaches who are willing to share their time and knowledge with people. Without this group of people our core organising team wouldn’t be able to achieve as much as we do and for that we are extremely grateful.

We hope that being a coach or volunteer for DevOps Girls teaches people new skills they might not get in their day-to-day role. This includes leadership, mentoring, events organising, public speaking, etc. For opportunities to coach and volunteer, please follow us on Twitter or DM us directly.

2021

I think we’re all pretty relieved to be rid of 2020. This year we’re going to continue to provide you with free technical training and give our insights as experienced professionals in our field. We hope to help you to get that next job or promotion. We will continue to seek your feedback and improve how we do this as well.

There’s two confirmed pieces of work for 2021 so far:

  1. We plan to launch a program for women over 30 years old who are seeking to transition into a tech role. We hope to announce more about this in the coming months including how you or your workplace could help make this awesome. Why for women over 30? Lots of reasons!
  2. By February we will be delivering smaller workshops as an intro to Terraform. A lot more people are using this for their infrastructure as code and we’d like to share that with the community.

To keep up-to-date, follow us on Twitter, join our Meetup.com page, follow us on Eventbrite, or ask us via Twitter DM for an invite to our welcoming Slack community.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Xx JC, Franca, Theresa and Javier

Likeminded tech folk who help women being upskilled and included in DevOps. Co-organisers: @JohnContad @TheresaNeate @setoide @francalovescake .