Giveaway: Win a Ticket to CSS Dev Conference

We here at Ladies in Tech are super excited to celebrate the (almost) end of summer by doing another awesome giveaway! Thanks to Ari Stiles, we have a free ticket to give to one of our awesome readers for CSS Dev Conference happening Oct 21-23 in beautiful Colorado!

Cramming into the photo booth at CSS Dev Conf 2012. Image credit: Environments for Humans

To win, just complete both of these two easy steps:

1. Leave a comment on this page sharing with us a website or resource that promotes women in technology. Be sure to leave your full name and correct email when commenting. And then:
2. Tweet a link to this article!

Easy as pie!
Contest ends: Tuesday Sep 10th at 10pm EDT!!

As an extra radical bonus, we have a Q&A with Ari, one of the event organizers! Ari has shared with us the background on how she got into the conference organizing scene and advice for those wanting to speak!

A Q&A with Ari Stiles, co-organizer of CSS Dev Conference

Q: Tell us about CSS Dev Conference!

We started CSS Dev Conference last year as an experiment of sorts. We’d seen so many conferences devoted to specific aspects of Web and mobile development — everything from programming languages like JavaScript and Python to more strategic practices like Accessibility and Content Strategy — but very little devoted just to CSS. After several years of producing the online CSS Summit, we thought it was a good time to introduce a full-scale face-to-face CSS conference. We are thrilled with the response and are honored to help create space for this community to come together and talk about techniques and solutions.

This year’s CSS Dev Conference takes place October 21—23 in Estes Park, Colorado, at the legendary Stanley Hotel. We’ll have two days chock-full of CSS presentations — 24 sessions spread over three tracks — plus keynote talks from featured speakers like Zoe Gillenwater, Chris Coyier, and Nicole Sullivan. The third day is an optional workshop day, a deep-dive into subjects like Responsive Design or SMACSS.

My favorite part of CSS Dev is the way sessions are chosen: we have an open call for session ideas, then we post those ideas online for community voting! We remove the name and job title / employer from each session to avoid biases. The end result is a wide range of sessions from a diverse group of speakers, some of them well-known, some of them new voices. The sessions themselves cover everything from typography and animation to Sass and complex grids. We just visited the hotel last week, and are finalizing plans for all of the evening events now! Colorado is gorgeous in the fall, and this will be the first conference for which I get to caution attendees about wandering Elk.

Q: You run a lot of awesome conferences! How did you get into being a conference organizer?

I was a self-taught Webmaster (remember *that* title?!) at the University of Texas here in Austin, and started attending SXSW Interactive to keep learning and to meet more people in the Web design industry. After a couple of years I offered to redesign some of their print materials for purely selfish reasons, thinking “if people come to SXSW, if they can find everything they need, if they enjoy themselves & then tell their friends to come, I’ll get to meet even more people like me.”

Fast forward to a few years later, I had become part of the staff and was working on just a few of the many, many mini-projects that make up the giant conference that is SXSW.

Then I met Christopher Schmitt, who was a frequent speaker at SXSW Interactive and many other events. After about a year of us geeking out and talking about conference minutia, we decided to start our own conference company. We are in the midst of our fifth year, and it is still challenging and so fun to see all of the plans come together for each event.

Q: How do you choose your speaker lineups?

We go to a lot of conferences. A LOT. I am continually delighted to see how each has its own community, its own vibe, however temporary. With any event you create, once it is released “into the wild,” the participants become co-creators. It is fun to build the best foundation possible, then step back and see what happens.

For our online conferences, it depends on the subject, really. Each of our online conferences is about a specific topic. Usually Christopher has the majority of the speaker lineup in his head, based on speakers we have seen over the past year or so. Then, for any open slots, we talk it over, do lots of research, and maybe consult with colleagues, based on their expertise. For the most part, Christopher specializes in event content and I focus more on logistics, training, and production.

When it comes to our other conferences, we’re trying new approaches. The CSS Dev Conference sessions are chosen by the community, except for the keynotes and a few featured speakers. We partnered with Jen Robbins this year to create ARTIFACT — she chose most of those speakers based on their successes at tackling multi-device design challenges, rather than just going for well-known speakers. Our In Control conference speakers usually have either a teaching background or a firm Web standards / best practices approach.

If the conference concept is strong, the type of speakers needed becomes apparent pretty quickly. We find that strong concept or theme makes for a more focused group of attendees, as well.

Q: Any tips for speakers wanting to speak at one of your conferences?

The basics: Do a lot of public speaking. Find a topic that gets you fired up ( and keep talking about it. Do whatever it takes to get over your nerves ( Start recording your talks and watch/listen to the recordings. Always ask for feedback, from both the organizers and attendees. And if you are so inclined, finding a mentor is a good idea, too.

Once you have some experience, it’s important to talk to different *kinds* of groups, and to speak in different settings. Most people start out presenting to local classes, or at Refresh meetings, or even joining toastmasters. All of these are options are fine, but consider other outlets for your presentations, too: online conferences, screencasts, even your recorded audio synced with a deck on slideshare. Keep track of all of your appearances and everything you’ve posted, and make sure it’s easy for a conference organizer like me to find!

Finally, step away from the industry norm every once in a while. There is a traditional bit of advice here — that is, to attend the conferences at which you would like to speak, to introduce yourself to the speakers and to the organizers, and to continue to network and build relationships with the current conference elite. This is a recipe for more of the same.

Focus instead on your topic: explore new processes, solve common problems, and explain your findings well. Accomplish this and you will have plenty of speaking engagements, trust me.

Thanks so much to Ari for helping with this giveaway and for sharing such awesome advice!

Now, get to the sharing of resources in the comments below and tweet away to win yourself a ticket to a great conference!

29 thoughts on “Giveaway: Win a Ticket to CSS Dev Conference

    1. Jenn Lukas

      Ha! We should’ve specified besides this one of course! ;) But thanks for the mention, we super appreciate it!

  1. Lisa Yoder

    The Philly chapter of Girl Develop It. Without it, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’d be making the switch to web development. If I were, I certainly wouldn’t be learning as quickly, and I’d be without the amazing community of other women I’ve met there.

  2. Leandra Marie

    Rails Bridge is an awesome learning resource for women looking to learn RoR. I was at one put together in Seattle, and everyone learned so much and it was such a great environment to spend a day in.

  3. Karen McLaughlin

    I’m also on the Philly GDI bandwagon (hi girls!). They are such a great group. I’ll throw in the She Tech Philly group for originality. Philly is a hotbed of girl power!

  4. Alexandra Hoefinger

    Codagogy is an awesome resource for learning the basics of coding. Their online courses are carefully thought out and created by women, for women, and I’ve hugely improved my skills by taking them! I highly recommend them to anyone starting out in technology.

  5. Emily Spence Place

    Huh, I just realized that my first comment disappeared into the ether. Definitely Girl Develop It! I teach for our local chapter and it’s really an amazing organization.
    I also think visible women in tech are important. I follow Nicole Sullivan, Estelle Weyl, Glenda Sims, Zoe Gillenwater (who I see above), and Lea Verou just to name a few.

  6. Elyse Holladay

    I just taught my class Mockups to Code at GDI Austin and I want to mention them—GDI Austin went from one girl running a few classes to a seriously thriving community run by two AMAZING women who have to be the most excited organizers ever. We’ve recently had two girls who took classes and immediately turned around and TA’d for us, one of whom is teaching her first class this coming weekend, and the other re-started the ATX UX Book Club. Knowing one of the GDI instructors got me to speak at Refresh, too; the amount of opportunities, love, and support for women in tech in Austin is unreal. I’m amazed at how many incredible women I’ve met over the last few months while getting to work for GDI. Totally ridiculous. :)

    class link:

    Also want to throw a shout-out to MakerSquare, which is a 10-week dev bootcamp started here in Austin. Their first class cohort was 50/50 men and women! They also are offering a 2k scholarship to women who want to learn to code with them! So rad :)

  7. Heather Migliorisi

    So many great resources mentioned, but one I found in search of posting something different is: women 2.0. It has the tech element, but it also adds entrepreneurship to the mix which is something that I find useful as well.

  8. Lisa Snyder

    Philly women in technology summit 2013 was a great program with inspirational stories and useful workshop content

  9. Ari Stiles

    Congratulations to our CSS Dev Conference ticket winner: Emily Spence Place!

    The entries here were all so great, though, and we would love to see any of you at CSS Dev Conference, or any of our other events, so …

    – Use code LADIESINTECH to save $50 off CSS Dev Conference tickets and workshops, or
    – use code E4HNEWS to save 20% off any of our online events or recordings.

    We hope to meet you, and we hope to keep seeing you here at Ladies in Tech. Cheers!

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