Not Your Average Tech Meetup

There is no shortage of tech meet ups here in Portland, and we’ve been to quite a few; but none quite like this.

This past Tuesday a group of us strolled across the Burnside Bridge to attend yet another Portland tech networking happy hour event. This particular event was hosted by PDX Women in Tech, a group founded by Megan Bigelow with the mission of being Portland’s trusted resource of support, empowerment, growth, and learning opportunities for women and their supporters, in all stages of their technology career.

An Immediate Difference

As soon as we entered the venue, the event set itself apart. Name tags and markers were up for grabs as were pronoun preference tags. I was instructed to not only write my name on the tag but also write a skill I’ve developed over the past 5 years — the theme of this event as it happened to be their 5- year anniversary!

So with my name and pronoun sticker attached to my shirt, I rounded the corner to discover the “activity table,” complete with pens, Women’s March postcards, and a list of our Representatives/Senators to whom we could write postcards expressing our political concerns. How often do you attend a tech meet up with a strong activism component?

Women's March PostCard

Also, unlike other happy hours where you grab your drink and convince yourself that because you said “Hi” to someone at the bar, that constitutes as networking – but really you just spend the whole time hanging out with your co-workers until the crowd starts to thin out and you decide to head home – PDXWIT provides moments of respite with their announcements and inspiring “lightning talks.” Both of which become great conversation starters with the stranger standing next to you.

The Announcements

At this particular event, during the food, drink, and activism, PDXWIT announced they are starting a spin-off group called PDXWIT #Action. This will be a resource for people to get more involved in the issues that affect us all at the local, state, and national levels. Their first plan of #Action (pun intended) is to bring in an immigration lawyer to help answer any questions for our immigrant brothers and sisters who might not be sure of their future in this country. If you know of anyone who might benefit from this resource, feel free to reach out and we can get you connected.

The energy in the room heightened as there was a sweeping feeling of unity almost reminiscent of that recent Saturday in the rain surrounded by thousands of strangers standing in solidarity.


After that a volunteer from the Portland Police Bureau shared information about free self defense classes for women and girls. Women Strength for women 18+ and GirlStrength for girls 10 to 17.

The Lightning Talks

Entrepreneur Paige Hendrix Butner, who went from teaching and directing public policy to founding a company, Client Joy, that allows businesses to easily gift locally-sourced items to their clients, gave an inspiring talk on why it is important to do what you’re passionate about, what keeps you up at night, and make sure all things in your life align with that.

Lastly, Maarika Krumhansl from Jama Software spoke of the necessity of a nursing room at your place of work and why, even if you aren’t planning to be an expectant mother, asking about an employer’s nursing room can reveal a lot about how a company considers female employees.

From including pronoun preference on the name tags to the lightning talk about nursing rooms in the workplace, this inclusive networking event ranks high on our lists of PDX happy hours. Will we see you at the next one?