Why I am Not at WWDC

Seeing a lot of the normal “Why are there no women at WWDC??” posts that tend to come out this time of year. I want to offer my very limited perspective on why I am not at WWDC.

I did not enter to win the WWDC Golden Ticket lottery because I could not afford to go. It isn’t just the cost of the ticket. It is also the flight and the cost of the hotel. I estimate going to WWDC costs about five grand.

Five grand is a lot of money. That is a Mac Pro or a vacation to Europe.

There are a lot of people who go out there who do not have WWDC tickets who still paid between three and five grand to just be out there and talk to their peers.

My understanding is that a lot of people who go to WWDC work for companies that pay those expenses.

I don’t work for a company. I used to, but that company did not really value sending people to conferences, so I doubt they would have paid to send me even if I were still there.

I took two years off to go back to school to learn programming. I am now in the rocky process of trying to establish myself as a professional.

I have some health issues that prevent me from being able to work all those crazy hours that are expected of you if you work at the kinds of innovative start-ups that want to do cutting edge iOS technology or have enough money to send people to go play with the new toys.

Replace health issues with family issues and you will see the problem a large number of women have trying to get to something like WWDC. Even if you can afford to send yourself, you are still leaving your children/family for a week to go run yourself ragged.

For better or worse, women are still the primary caregivers of children. My conference excursions are becoming longer and farther away and it is causing an issue between my husband and I. He doesn’t think it is fair that I am going off on these trips without him and expecting him to subsidize the costs associated with them. Even though I am a speaker and many of the costs get taken care of, there are always some costs that we wind up paying.

There are two easy things that Apple could do to get more women at WWDC:

  • Set aside 100-200 tickets for women in technology. Either set it up as a lottery or have women apply using an essay or something. Try to pick people who are doing interesting things and not just the token woman board member at Zynga.
  • Do something to help ameliorate the cost. Waive the cost of the ticket. Set up a roommate system so that if you want to spilt the cost of a room with another woman you can do that to save money. Each time I have gone to CocoaConf Chicago I have ridden down and roomed with a woman I met when I picked them up to go to Chicago and both woman became very good friends.

I will probably never work for Apple. I can’t afford to move out there and I can’t work the number of hours expected of an Apple engineer. I probably won’t ever get to go to WWDC. I think it is disappointing because I would love to go to all of the OpenGL and Core Audio labs and sessions that I hear are a ghost town because no one cares about them. I am working within the constraints that I am given and doing the best I can.

Apple could make bringing women to WWDC a priority. They think bringing students to WWDC is a priority and the set aside 150 tickets for students. If they wanted more women there, they would do that for them too.

But then again, they would also set aside tickets for a lot of the prominent iOS companies that got shut out of the WWDC lottery. They probably had 100,000 people enter into a lottery for 5,000 tickets. They could double or triple the cost of a ticket and still sell out every year. They had nearly 400,000 people download their Swift programming guide within a day of it being announced/released.

Apple is going to do fine without people like me. I can throw a hissy fit about them not including me, or I can just accept the fact that I am in the same boat as a lot of other people and do the best I can with what I have.

I am not going to have the same career as everyone else. That doesn’t make what I do any less relevant than working at Facebook or trying to create a social photo sharing start-up. I don’t think I have to measure myself based on what other people use for measures of success.

To quote a famous philosopher:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Just because I am not at WWDC does not mean I don’t exist or that I am not a developer. We’re out there. It might take a while, but you will see more of us. I am not quitting.