Tonight was a massive turnout at the talk night for B'more on Rails, one of the meetup groups I co-organize. When the group was first created on meetup.com, the original organizers put an arbitrary limit of 65 attendees at the meetup, thinking it'd probably never be reached. Tonight, we not only reached that, but we had at least 18 people on a waiting list.
This is due in large part to Natasha Jones' Workshop for Women last month. Women from that workshop accounted for over a quarter of the attendees tonight, and half of Hack Night a few weeks ago (Talk Night is the 2nd Tuesday of the month, Hack Night is the 4th Tuesday).
We also had a pretty impressive attendance from Towson University — two professors and close to a dozen students. And another professor from another university in Baltimore. There are probably a half dozen universities with a footprint in the city and he didn't specify, so I don't know which one.
One of the things that made me happiest about it was that even with that many people there, it wasn't a giant mess of white dudes. There were definitely some there, but I'd estimate they (well, I suppose "we" is more accurate, considering I'm a white guy) were only 25-30%, tops. Considering that that percentage is usually at least 75%, this was a refreshing change. I love knowing that the outreach that we've been doing has been working!
In fact, two of the three presenters tonight were women of color. They gave presentations that were perfect for the audience we had tonight. Vaidehi Joshi talked about state machines (a preview of her Ruby on Ales talk) and Ashley Jean talked about password hashing with BCrypt — her first tech talk ever. I spoke to several people who attended who were still very new to programming and they said they got a lot out of both talks, which is fantastic when you consider that neither of those are beginner-level topics.
As you can probably tell, I'm bursting with excitement and happiness at how well this meetup went. This is despite the fact that there were so many people there that we ran out of seats and the temperature inside the room was 10° higher than it was outside it.
It was something that we learned very quickly we weren't setup for logistically, though. We only barely had room for everyone, so we may need to lower that 65-person limit. We also had no idea how much food to buy for that many people (we way overshot it) and it's a little awkward to tell sponsors "oh, by the way, the food bill is probably going to be 2-3x higher for the foreseeable future, especially until we can figure out how much food to get for this crowd". :-)