2016 Annual RedChairPGH Event

On Thursday November 16th, 2016, tech professionals across the region convened to take a seat and take a stand—both symbolically and literally—and show solidarity for RedChairPGH’s second annual event. Setting up shop at the new state-of-the-art co-working space Alloy 26 on Pittsburgh’s Northside, the event was meant to build and support a local coalition dedicated to increasing diversity in computing and IT industries, encourage Pittsburgh companies and the tech community to correct imbalances, and foster a stronger local talent pool. To get the conversation started, the night kicked off with a lively networking session. Attendees were able to engage with a diverse group of tech influencers, including representatives from major corporations, small startups, grassroots nonprofits, advocacy groups, and tech incubators. Attendees were encouraged to show solidarity with women in tech—and strike a pose—in the event’s #sitwithme photo booth. The event’s prolific presenters discussed their experiences overcoming challenges in IT careers at all levels, and shared practical tools that individuals and companies can use to reverse trends in inequity. Featured guest speakers included: Lenore Blum, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, Christy Uffelman, a professional development expert with Align Leadership, and information technology executives Kathleen Lovett and John Quinn from Thermo Fisher Scientific. Blum spoke about women in computer science at universities and shared her experience from Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science undergraduate class, which 48% female—far above the national average of 16%. Uffelman, an expert in millennial development and women’s leadership, highlighted development for mid-career IT professionals, while the Thermo Fisher Scientific team shared the value diversity brings to their organization.