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Home » Women in STEM » How SXSW EDU® is Helping Women in Technology to Innovate and Network

The SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival, now in its tenth year, has a full lineup of sessions and workshops to empower attendees to keep innovating and learning.

The annual event happening March 9-12 in Austin, Texas, features workshops, an expo, networking, mentorship opportunities, film screenings and more.

In the past decade, SXSW EDU®, a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals, went from 800 registrants to 8000.

“When you go to SXSW EDU®, you are always going to walk away, meeting new people that you never would have met before, and learning things and hearing from people that you had no idea existed,” says Margaret Roth, director of operations at Squadra Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund.

Empowering women

The annual four-day event is focused on education, both teaching and learning. The programming breakdown is 65 percent K-12 and 35 percent higher education. Attendees represent many different fields including education, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits. Some conference attendees come back year after year.

Many of the offerings are targeted to women. One session looks at improving girls’ financial literacy in high school – women are disproportionately affected by the U. S. debt crisis – and teaching them about investing and pursuing careers in finance; another is about reshaping how to achieve diversity in the tech industry, including helping women of color in tech careers.

Plus, one session discusses how women in developing countries, such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, are using tech in remote learning environments when traditional education isn’t safe or easy. The goal is to show attendees how to create content and curriculum to appeal to a remote audience.

High energy networking

While running her own data analytics company, Roth co-founded EdTechWomxn in 2013. The women’s leadership development organization, which has chapters across the country, is focused on the growth and recognition of women in technology. 

Every year EdTechWomxn holds a meet up style facilitated networking session at SXSW EDU®. During the professional development event, 120 attendees discuss developing women’s leadership with inclusivity, visibility and impact. 

The high energy networking “allows people to quickly get real and connect on a deeper level with each other,” says Roth, who’s also been a speaker at previous SXSW EDU® events.


A big hot topic at the conference continues to be finding mentors. Roth says while finding a mentor is great for a woman’s career, it’s smart to take it a step further by becoming a mentor.

“Are you someone’s next step?” she asks. “Are you the push they need? Are you the next step that helps them get them to where they need to go? Where they want to go?”

Additionally, attendees are interested in learning how to personalize products and experiences. They’re also looking to see how artificial intelligence is being implemented and what’s next when it comes to maximizing engagement in learning.

Well curated

The event is organized by thematic tracks, such as art, policy and civic engagement, adult learning, social emotional learning and more.

Roth, who calls SXSW EDU® “well curated,” encourages attendees to get out their comfort zones to meet new people.  She advises planning your schedule too. For example, choose three sessions you’re interested in attending per time or day because they fill up quickly.

After the conference, use the tools you’ve learned and work the connections you’ve made.

“Harness that energy, take the action, do the risky thing and be all in for your own next step and for those around you,” says Roth.

Check out the full lineup of SXSW EDU® sessions and workshops here:

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