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Inspirational keynote speakers take the stage at Hotel Palomar Phoenix April 26-28 lecturing on hot topics in technology and innovation. But that’s not the only focus of Girls in Tech (GIT) Catalyst Conference.
It encourages women of all ages and backgrounds to roll up their sleeves, collaborate and do the work, according to GIT Founder and CEO Adriana Gascoigne. By engaging, networking, finding role models or becoming a mentor, the takeaways from this conference can be huge.
“It’s not just a bunch of fluffy speeches that you hear at all the tech conferences,” she said. “It’s actual skills.”
So why bring a Silicon Valley-style conference to Downtown Phoenix? The city’s proximity to an international border, cultural diversity and talent pool make it a potential hot spot for innovation, according to Gascoigne.
“Diversity has a direct correlation to creativity and there’s a direct correlation between creativity and innovation,” she said. “So anywhere you have those pieces of the pie, you’re going to have a great tech ecosystem ready to start.”
Mayor Greg Stanton, city leaders and Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) immediately rallied around the conference when Phoenix made the short list of potential host cities.
From startups like WebPT to co-working spaces like CO+HOOTS, downtown has a small but burgeoning tech community, according to Dan Klocke, vice president of economic development for DPI. These entities, along with support from the city and interest from local entrepreneurs helped solidify the decision to bring the conference here.
“The more downtown can get the word out that it’s a great location for startups and established tech firms, the better,” Klocke said.
While challenges like sexual harassment and the gender wage gap may come up at the conference, Gascoigne said it’s important to keep the conversations positive.
“In general we’re trying to educate, create skills, leadership, empowering women, breaking the glass ceiling altogether in a very collaborative way,” she said. “But at the same time we’re discussing the issues that exist.”
What started as Gascoigne’s passion project in 2007 has now grown to 47 cities around the world, including Phoenix, with more than 20,000 members.
From boot camps, hack-a-thons to conferences like Catalyst – Girls in Tech focuses on making hands-on high impact curriculum available to women and girls in tech worldwide.
Conference topics run the gamut from startup funding, brand recognition, diversity in the workplace to maintaining work-life balance — just to name a few.
Click here for the full conference schedule and list of speakers. Tickets cost $75 for students and $199 for general attendance.