Seattle Women in Tech (WiT) began nearly five years ago when Molly Donnelly, who was interning for Startup Seattle at the time, decided to host an event for women in the industry. Over a hundred women crowded into a basement in South Lake Union to hear Kate Matsudara speak and network with one another. The energy was electric, and it was clear that we’d all been hungry for that kind of programming and community.
When Molly went back to finish her last year of college, a small group of women decided to work together to keep the momentum she’d seeded going. We formed a nonprofit and started hosting quarterly events on topics ranging from retention and hiring strategies, to male allies, to media portrayals of women in tech. We showcased stories from underrepresented groups and opened up conversations about intersectionality. Companies like Zillow, Tune, T-Mobile, and Google hosted and supported us, and each event left me feeling more hopeful that I’d live to see an industry that was as diverse and inclusive as the WiT community.
Something exciting happened over the years: we noticed more and more groups focusing on gender, racial, and social equity in tech. We started partnering with inspiring organizations like the Ada Developers Academy, IGNITE, and the Technology Access Foundation to amplify and contribute to the outstanding work they were doing. We started to track all the organizations we came across internally, and started to dream about bringing all of them together.
Last May we did just that at the inaugural Women in Tech Regatta. We convened over 30 organizations at City Hall and hosted parallel programs at seven venues throughout downtown Seattle. Everything about the event exceeded our wildest expecations, especially that over 700 of you were there.
None of that would have been possible without Melody Biringer, one of the original WiT board members and the WiT Regatta event producer. Melody worked tirelessly to make our vision a reality and recruited a small army of volunteers to help. She has been passionate about empowering women throughout her entire career as a serial entrepreneur, and her dedication and enthusiasm was key to making the Regatta a success.
It was clear after the Regatta that there was an opportunity and need for WiT to become a hub for the broader ecosystem and continue to build upon the connections started there. After contemplating this direction extensively, we decided that Melody was the woman to lead the charge. Moving forward, WiT is going to be part of the Crave Company, and the Regatta will be the primary focus. Melody has already taken the Regatta to Vancouver and has big plans for the next chapter of WiT.
Working on WiT with the magnificent group of people on the board and our broader community has been one of the most gratifying and inspiring parts of my career. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I recognize that there is lots of work that still needs to be done. I look forward to supporting Melody, along with the rest of the WiT board, in carrying our mission forward into a new and promising future.
WiT Board President 2013 – 2017
Cover photos by @heuge