I’ve set myself a challenge to attend at least 3 meetups a month, which includes 1 I’ve never attended before. Click here to read about the other meetups I’ve attended this year.

Here is my progress so far:
Meetups attended in 2020: 7/36
New meetups attended in 2020: 3/12
(Last updated 10th March 2020)

Event: Women In Tech Birmingham
Date: Monday 9th March 2020
Location: Woodrow Mercer, Birmingham
Talk: Women who have inspired us (Lightning Talks)

To celebrate International Womens Day, the organizers of the Women in Tech Birmingham meetup asked for volunteers to give lightning talks about ‘women who have inspired us’. There was quite a range of topics, making it a really interesting evening.

My Grandmother (by Devi Kasirajan)

Devi started the evening by giving a wonderful and heart-warming talk about her grandmother. Devi’s grandmother grew up in a small village in India. She was a teacher, but sadly widowed at a young age. She was political, and encouraged people to vote by sitting outside her house on voting days, asking passers-by if they had voted and giving them a sweet if they had already done so. She also sent both of her daughters to university – despite opposition from the rest of the village.

The contribution that Devi’s grandmother made to the family was ensuring that her daughters had the best education. This had a strong influence on Devi and her family who ensure that everyone also gets the same opportunity. For Devi and her brother, it was expected that they attend University. Devi was very clear that both she and her brother were equal in their upbringing. If she went without, so did her brother. Everyone got treated the same regardless of gender.

Legally Blonde (My Talk)

For my talk, I chose to talk about the inspirational female characters present in the movie Legally Blonde. If you haven’t seen this film, then I recommend you do. For those living in the UK, it is currently available on Netflix (as of 10th March 2020).

The main character, Elle Woods, appears to epitomize the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype. However, as a result of her boyfriend breaking up with her because she’s not serious enough, she decides to attend Havard Law School to show him that she can be serious. During the movie, she learns to work hard and prove that she actually is smart. I watched this film when I was about 12 years old, and I recall how I found scenes of Elle reading and studying (sometimes while getting her hair done) rather inspiring. I feel this had a strong influence on my attitude while at school and university.

Another thing I really love about this movie is the large number of female characters in it. There is the judge in the trial, the prosecution lawyer, a law professor, the defendant in the trial (a fitness instructor and business women who made money producing fitness tapes) – all successful and intelligent women.

One big message I got from this movie is ‘don’t judge people by their looks’ and ‘be yourself’. Elle is constantly judged by the way she looks. She is beautiful, blonde and likes to wear pink. Despite this, she doesn’t change. Instead, she earns respect through her actions. She proves to the world that she is not just a ‘dumb blonde’.

Roller Derby (by Rachel Abbott)

Rachel introduced us to an inspirational sport (and hopefully recruit some extra people for her team). The sport – roller derby.

Unlike many popular sports, which were started by men but then introduced women, this was predominantly a women’s sport first. In addition, it is more progressive than other sports by allowing non-binary and anyone who identifies as a women to take part. This is completely different from other sport which seeks to exclude trans-gender women.

Adding to its inclusive nature, it doesn’t enforce an idea about how participants should ‘look’ to take part. Roller derby is a sport suitable for all body shapes, sizes or types. Every ‘body’ is valid.

This is a sport that inspires confidence, teamwork, tenacity and trust for those who take part. It promotes a positive and inclusive culture. It is also fun – an essential feature of any sport.

Interested in giving Roller Derby a go? Click here for more information.

Emily Chappell (by Amy Hooper)

Amy’s talk was about Emily Chappell – winner of a 4000km transcontinental race. You can read about her experiences in the book ‘Where there’s a will‘.

Not much a fan of cycling, I’d never heard of Emily Chappell before listening to this talk. However, I do have a lot of respect for any kind of endurance sport. In this talk, Amy used quotes from the book that demonstrate some particularly inspirational moments of Emily Chappells journey. I don’t have the actual quotes but here is a brief description of these moments:

  • When things were tough, Emily wasn’t afraid to cry during her journey and she wasn’t ashamed when other people could see her. Despite these feelings, she still found the strength to carry on.
  • While taking some time to rest during the journey, she still took the time to enjoy and appreciate where she was.
  • While cycling through some particularly difficult mountain regions, she drew on the strength of other inspirational women. Every 2km, she would think of a different woman who inspired her.

Women Are Cool (by Emily Lamidieu)

Emily finished off the evening by introducing several women who she finds particularly inspirational:

  • Katharine Johnson
    Some might already know about her from the movie Hidden Figures. Katherine Johnson was a mathematician at Nasa and calculated the
    trajectories for the Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle missions.
  • Margaret Hamilton
    The lead developer for the software used in the Apollo moon missions, Margaret Hamilton is credited with inventing the modern concept of software development.
  • Florence Welch
    Lead singer of ‘Florence and the Mahcine’. She sings about other women, and is inspired when hungover or emotional.
  • Akiyo Noguchi
    Professional rock climber and sport climber and boulderer.
  • Captain Marvel
    The best super hero from the Marvel comics. She saves the universe, not just the world.
  • Becky Chambers
    Author of ‘The long way to a small, angry planet’. She discusses important topics in a non-disturbing way.

Final Thoughts

Some talked about specific women, some talked about groups of women. Some were fictional and some were real. It was nice to see such a diverse range of topics.

Is there someone you find inspirational? Please comment, I’d like to hear about them.