In this episode, Alison Wade and Jessie Shternshus chat with Jenna Charlton, a Woman Who is a Champion for Accessibility and Inclusion. Jenna has been a tester for nearly a decade and is currently a Consultant at Coveros where she helps people do their jobs better. She’s a champion for accessibility and inclusion, helping make tech a place where anyone can succeed. Join us to learn more about Jenna’s passion for testing and giving back to the community.
Alison Wade: You’re listening to Women Who Change Tech, the podcast that gives you access to women who are contributing, inspiring, trailblazing and disrupting the business of technology. We believe that when women inspire other women, amazing things happen. I’m your host, Alison Wade,
Jessie Shternshus: And I am your host Jessie Shternshus and we are connecting women around the world to share ideas that help us thrive and advance in our personal lives and in our careers.
Alison Wade: Be sure to share this podcast with your friends, rate and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and help us bring a Women Who Change Tech into the lives of more professionals.
Jessie Shternshus: Hold on to your seats as we give you a dose of inspiration from some of the most talented and creative women who are shifting the face of technology.
Alison Wade: Good morning, Jessie. How are you this morning?
Jessie Shternshus: I’m doing good. How are you, Alison?
Alison Wade: I am very good.
Jessie Shternshus: Awesome. That is excellent.
Alison Wade: Well, Jessie and I kind of know what we’ve been through. We actually got together on Sunday for lunch and decided we needed some girl time and some talk time. And we both agreed that we’re kind of in a funk right now, wouldn’t you say so?
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah, it’s like, we need some good old rest and relaxation.
Alison Wade: Yeah, but unfortunately, life and time is not giving that to us.
Jessie Shternshus: No, not unless we invent blanket conference or something.
Alison Wade: Yeah, we both universally agree that we really feel like kind of hibernating, like staying under our blankets with our cups of tea. And it’s really hard to move forward at this point in our life. I’m sure many of our listeners can relate to times when it’s been really hard to move forward.
Jessie Shternshus: It is, maybe we should invent like hibernation conf for something insane.
Alison Wade: I like that idea. Everybody takes their blanket goes to hibernation con. That’s a great idea.
Jessie Shternshus: And we just all talk about how it went. Because nobody actually goes anywhere. We just all hibernating. It’d be awesome. Trust us.
Alison Wade: But I will say, you know, we talk about the tools of people in your front row. And Jessie is definitely in my front row. And together, we’ve we’ve come up with a solution to this or at least something that we’re going to use to help us move forward. And Jessie had this amazing book called A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness, which is just an amazing. Tell everybody about this book.
Jessie Shternshus: So it’s really cool. It has like all of these activities and exercises and it’s about like slowing down and noticing things and whether it’s a nature in yourself with each other. And so I thought you and I could do the activities together and kind of talk through them and stuff. And I just I don’t know. I love it. It’s also just this like beautiful book, isn’t it?
Alison Wade: Yeah. Yeah. Jessie immediately shipped me one on Amazon and I have it in my hands and it’s just gorgeous. And I think it’s what’s great about having wonderful friends and wonderful amazing women in your life, like I have Jessie and we have each other, is that we can do this sort of stuff. So we’re gonna walk through this book and see if we get out of a funk. Hey, Jesse?
Jessie Shternshus: Yes, exactly. In the meantime, one of the ways we are going to get out of our funk is by you introducing me to our next guest, Jenna. Who you’ve told me is incredible, so I cannot wait to meet her.
Alison Wade: Yes, you’re definitely going to get out of your funk when you meet when Jessie and Jenna get together. I’m really excited for you to meet her as well. I want to introduce everyone today to Jenna Charlton she is a woman who is passionate about accessibility. Jenna has been a software tester for nearly a decade and in that time she’s focused on manual testing, taking a particular interest in test web accessibility and usability. Jenna’s experience in testing runs the gamut from lone tests on a scrum team to test lead on an agile enterprise level project. Jenna’s primary areas of expertise are in Agile testing methodologies, risk based testing, accessibility testing and test leadership. She is a regular speaker at conferences covering a variety of testing topics and team collaboration. Jenna is passionate about making testing concepts accessible and relevant. Jenna is currently a consultant at Coveros delivering software testing training that’s relevant, accessible and up to date with current trends. And that means that I get the pleasure of working with Jenna. So Jenna, welcome today.
Jenna Charlton: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.
Alison Wade: We are happy to have you.
Jessie Shternshus: Hey, Jenna, how are you?
Jenna Charlton: I’m good. How are you?
Jessie Shternshus: Doing well.
Alison Wade: This is Jessie and Jenna’s first meeting. It’s the double J’s today. So, Jenna tell us a little bit about your background as a software tester.
Jenna Charlton: So like a lot of people, and I’m stealing Ash Coleman’s phrase here, I fell into testing.
Alison Wade: It’s always good to steal Ash Coleman. Yes, she’s amazing.
Jenna Charlton: So I had kind of bounced around doing like terrible customer service jobs for years. And I wound up getting hired by this company called Brandmuscle that did a marketing service. And I was in their help desk and they said, “what do you want to do next?” And I said, “I don’t know, maybe I want to be BA or something.” They said, “well, you’re not quite there yet. Why don’t you try testing.” They offered me a position in the in the testing group and after six weeks, I went back to my manager and I said, “you know what I said about being a BA? Let’s forget that, this is what I want to do.”
Alison Wade: That’s awesome.
Jenna Charlton: And that was it. I was in love.
Jessie Shternshus: What did you love about it?
Jenna Charlton: At that time, I loved that I got to explore and experiment and try new things. And then I was, it was something that I could do, I was always going to get to learn something new. I really like to be challenged. And I always felt like there was a new challenge out there. And then little by little I started to get more interested in in methodologies and planning and things like that, and it it just fit somehow. I don’t really even know why it fits so well, but it just does.
Jessie Shternshus: And how long were you there before you moved on to the next job?
Jenna Charlton: I was at Brandmuscle as a tester. So total I was there for three years. I was testing for two and I kind of just outgrew the job. It was time for the next step. And so I, I took a real short contract. And then I went to work for a company called Fleetmatics. That was actually bought by Verizon. So another part of Verizon Connect. And there, I learned web service testing. And that was really an experience because my manager at the time, said, “Hey, here’s this part of our application that I don’t have time to test. So here are a bunch of websites you can learn from here, Soap UI, figure it out.”
Alison Wade: Wow.
Jenna Charlton: So for the first like two months, I just played with web services. I had no idea what I was doing. But little by little, I figured it out. And I really like, built a robust suite of knowledge, so to speak, and got involved in REST as well. And I actually even though it was terrifying, I really enjoy just being told, figure this thing out come to me with questions. And being given the space to do that.
Alison Wade: That’s amazing. Then from there, where did you go next?
Jenna Charlton: After that I worked for a Progressive Insurance.
Alison Wade: So that was a really different experience, right?
Jenna Charlton: Very different. And it’s so funny because like Fleetmatics was like, traditional Scrum teams like we worked in really small collaborative groups, the reins were off. And then I go to Progressive, where we’re these big teams still doing agile, but kind of like very large scale agile, and much more regulated. But that job changed my life.
Alison Wade: So to tell us about that.
Jenna Charlton: So I had, for the first time in my career, I had a female manager. And she invested in me, and she believed in me, and she encouraged me to do things that I never thought I’d be able to do. So I did my very first talk while working there. I fact, I’ve done almost all of my talks working for them. They gave me leadership opportunities, I was allowed to create a kind of experiential testing learning activity. It was like a full day of testing activities for the entire company. We had 500 people come through. They gave me a budget. They gave me the space. They gave me volunteers and said, yeah, if you want to try this, let’s do it. What’s the worst that happens? It doesn’t work. But people loved it, they still do it. And just making that kind of investment in me and letting me try something that could be really risky, it could be a big waste of money. But they said, we believe in you, we think that you’re capable of this, go do it.
Alison Wade: That’s fantastic. And great to hear in a large organization like Progressive. That’s terrific.
Jenna Charlton: Yeah, they they really value people. It’s a cool place.
Jessie Shternshus: So what what were you trying to get people to do? Learn how to be, learn what testing was, or what were you trying to do for your experiment?
Jenna Charlton: So this was based on a series of activities that were done at TestBash Philadelphia in 2018. So there were all of these stations. One was on risk, like risk assessments. One was on learning to use the chrome console, the developer console. I think one was marshmallow towers, but you had to the requirements kept changing. So you have to keep rebuilding your tower to make it fit the requirements. And there were a couple of more as well, but it was about testing skills. Not so much applicable, I’m going to sit down and use this today, but mindset skills. So getting into the thought process of a tester being able to adapt quickly, understanding what risk is, especially because they use a risk based strategy. People loved it.
Alison Wade: So was that something that just testers is in the organization did? Or were there other people that came in and did this as well?
Jenna Charlton: Anybody was welcome. So we had some customer service people, we had developers, we had business analysts, product owners showed up, it was awesome.
Alison Wade: Very cool. That’s great. And so so we’ve been working together and Jenna just started with Coveros in January. So really excited about that. And tell us what you love about being a trainer because I know this was kind of a passion of yours. So you moved over to work in the training field, what is it that you like about training so much?
Jenna Charlton: I love seeing people grow. And I love being able to help them do that. And I love when you see people just kind of get it. You know, you’re you’re working on something with them, and you talked about it, and all of a sudden the light bulb goes off. And it’s just such a cool thing. I love to be able to help people do their jobs better. It’s also a really cool way to be able to give back to a community that’s given so much to me. Testing is dramatically changed my life. Getting into IT took me from having zero direction to having a passion where I where I get to invest in myself and invest in people and it like changed our financial situation for my husband and I, it’s given me so much and now I get to give back.
Alison Wade: That’s really amazing.
Jessie Shternshus: I know that something you’re really passionate about too, is inclusion and that you’re going to be talking about that. Can you tell us a little bit about why that’s so important to you?
Jenna Charlton: So inclusion is really important to me, because tech should be a place that anyone can succeed. And it’s really important to me that not only does tech enable people to live better lives, but also that it becomes a path for people that may otherwise not have other opportunities, to find ways to better their lives. It can be a pathway out of poverty for people. And it’s really important to me that as a community, we are investing in others and helping them grow the way we’ve had the opportunity to grow and giving them the opportunities that we’ve had to support our families and support ourselves and do the things that we need to do. It kind of goes along the lines was something I, I’ve talked to some people about, which is like, I really have a passion for tech, I have a passion about testing. I love it. I have some friends that are developers that aren’t super passionate about being a developer, but they’re really good at it. And they say, you know what, this is the only career path that people demand that I have passion in, you don’t ask doctors to show you their portfolio of their like off the clock surgeries.
Alison Wade: That’s true.
Jenna Charlton: But they’re still really good at what they do. And it still enables them to have the wonderful lives where they can take care of their families that they need to have. So I want to expose as many people as possible to ways to use this career path to make their lives better. And I kind of want to break down that barrier of you have to be passionate about it, it has to be everything to you, you have to spend every waking moment coding, because you don’t. You need to code at work.
Alison Wade: Yeah, that is very true. I think that was kind of the model or idol of the early years, weren’t they? There’s these people sort of stuck in dark caves, you know, who are coding crazily for hours and hours on end, because they thought they were gonna make the next big thing. And I think that became kind of the, the marketing persona for tech. Right? And it was very male, of course.
Jessie Shternshus: Have you personally seen it change other people’s lives when its been inclusive?
Jenna Charlton: I have. I know some people who have done things like bootcamps in Cleveland, there’s a great one, it’s called We Can Code IT. And they are really intentional about being inclusive and marginalized groups and actively seek out people in marginalized groups to join their classes. These folks get hired and go from making $8 an hour at McDonald’s to a real career, making 40 $50,000 a year in their first job for the first time. Their lives are not living paycheck to paycheck. They’re thinking about buying houses, they’re able to move to neighborhoods where they can send their kids to better schools. I think about my friend Regina, who has recently done this, and her whole life changed. Like she went from a bootcamp to getting hired at Progressive. Now she’s taking care of foster kids in a home she bought, like her whole life is different, and she’s able to give back because our whole life is different.
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah, that’s incredible. And so important.
Alison Wade: That is incredible. That’s something I’m really appreciate you talking about this. Because that’s something I don’t think about on a daily basis is how much tech can change people’s lives and what they do, when the careers they have and how accessible it is sometimes to people that they may not know it, right?
Jenna Charlton: Yeah, there are ways to do this for almost nothing. You just got to have, you’ve got to be able to make the commitment. That’s sometimes the hard part.
Alison Wade: Right. I think a lot of people are afraid if they don’t have a degree from a University, that they’re for software engineering or whatever, that they can’t make it in this business, but that is not true. Correct?
Jenna Charlton: I completely agree. And I’m here to say like I don’t have a degree. I’m working on my Bachelor’s now. Because I didn’t know what I wanted to be what I grew up. I still don’t know if I know what I want to be when I grow up.
Alison Wade: Little birdie told me you wanted to be a pro wrestler.
Jenna Charlton: I just enjoy watching, I don’t think I could ever actually do that.
Alison Wade: So Jessie you should know this about Jenna, I found this out from listening to one of her talks online that she’s actually her and her husband are huge fans of pro wrestling.
Jessie Shternshus: Do you have a pro wrestling name like for yourself?
Jenna Charlton: No.
Alison Wade: No tell us your Twitter handle.
Jenna Charlton: But my Twitter handle is @SheWrestlesTest
Jessie Shternshus: She wrestles test? Cool! Now you need a wrestling name.
Alison Wade: We’re so gonna come up with this in the game.
Jessie Shternshus: I think that’s what we’re gonna make up in our game. We got our game. Okay, back to the program.
Alison Wade: So tell us what inclusion means in terms of software and is inclusion is different from accessibility? Because I know that’s a big thing for you. So I’d love to hear about your perspective on that.
Jenna Charlton: Sure. So accessibility and inclusion go hand in hand. I believe the difference is, one, when we talk about inclusion, we’re not just talking about the needs of disabled users. We’re also talking about being what’s the right way to put it. We’re talking about making sure that our our software doesn’t have a bias, that the language used doesn’t have a bias, that the imagery used doesn’t have a bias. A great example of this and I wish I could remember the name of the article, but there was an article written about how image compression there’s an image from playboy that had been used for like decades, and it was like the standard image that everybody used for image compression testing.
Jessie Shternshus: What?
Alison Wade: I know this story. Yes, it is true.
Jenna Charlton: That’s a huge bias.
Alison Wade: Yes.
Jenna Charlton: It’s not inclusive. So that’s what I so inclusion is not just looking at accessibility is also looking at removing those biases. But then when we look at accessibility, we talk about making sure disabled users are able to use our software, we talk about making sure that maybe late adopters are able to use our software. And later adopters are kind of like the forgotten users that need a little extra help. Like we all forgot about our grandparents who their first computer was their phone. You know, they didn’t, they didn’t learn on desktop, they didn’t learn on a laptop. They learned by using their iPhone that their grandkids bought them. So we tend to leave them behind. So that’s part of inclusion too. But then it’s also really important that we’re looking out for users that are blind, that are hearing impaired, or are deaf, or maybe have a mobility challenge, or that, you know, if we make things too busy if they’re on the spectrum and the webpage is just way, way, way too much, and it’s overly complicated and it’s triggering and it, it kind of like is overstimulating. You know, it’s all of those people, we want to be inclusive to all of them. And it’s not just about doing the right thing, although doing the right thing is really important. It’s also about bottom lines. And when we build our software that includes everybody, we make more money.
Alison Wade: So have you working in a company like a when you’ve been a champion for accessibility did you experience resistance? Because I can imagine people going, oh, well, that’s just a small portion. You know, we can’t build for everybody. I mean, do you have you heard that before?
Jenna Charlton: Oh, yes. But what I like to remind people of especially working in insurance for a while, everybody’s like, well, if they’re blind, they’re not buying car insurance. And I always have to remind people, they might be buying it for their kid. They might be buying it for their spouse. They may own a car that they have somebody that drives them around. They also might own a house or be a renter. Just because they’re blind doesn’t mean they don’t need insurance. Just because they don’t have the use of their hands doesn’t mean they don’t have an insurance, all of these different things, but you hear a lot like, well, they’re not going to buy insurance. No, they are. They’re just not going to buy it from you, if you don’t make it accessible.
Alison Wade: Yeah, I’m really excited about, there’s going to be a keynote at the EPIC conference by a gentleman who is blind, Kevin Brown, and he’s gonna, that’s exactly what he’s going to be talking about. And it’s going to be so interesting to see it from his perspective, because that’s what he likes to do with that keynote. So you’re going to love that keynote.
Jenna Charlton: I’m really excited.
Alison Wade: It’s called Breaking Down Boxes for Accessibility. And so I can’t wait to hear him talk about that because he tries to give you the actual perspective of what it’s like to be in his shoes. And I think that’s terrific.
Jenna Charlton: I’m really excited about that. I’m looking forward to it.
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah, I heard him talk a couple years ago and he, he’s amazing. And it just sticks with you, you really get a feel for what people go through minute by minute that you may not ever think about and you have the luxury to not think about and in that we all should be thinking about.
Alison Wade: So what are the biggest challenges for testers when you are testing for accessibility.
Jenna Charlton: So some of the biggest challenges are one having the right tools, and knowing what tool to use when. So, for Mac, it’s really easy. You just turn on voiceover if you’re going to work on. If you’re going to work on something with a screen reader, it gets a little more challenging when you’re working on PC, because some of the best tools are expensive, like JAWS is an expensive tool. But then also, it’s almost overwhelming. When you think about the diversity of disabled users and the diversity of their needs. You kind of sit down and look at it. You almost go wherever wave and start. So the challenge is usually finding your MVP. But I always tell people your MVP is keyboard only, like if you can get through your application keyboard only, you’ve met your most basic minimum, doesn’t mean you’re passing WCAG doesn’t mean you’re done. But at least you’ve covered the broadest spectrum of users and then you start moving to the smaller things. The things that are a little more challenging.
Alison Wade: So how, are there accessibility issues on a mobile phone if voices enacted? What would be a key accessibility issue for someone on say, an iPhone, which we go, oh, well, its got voice, so any user who has certain kinds of disabilities unless they don’t have voice would be able to use that phone? Is that can you say that like that? Or would what other things would you find that people wouldn’t think of?
Jenna Charlton: So one of the big ones and actually, this is something that I experienced because I have a learning disability and part of part of the way it affects me is that I’m really bad with spatial reasoning. So if a button is too small, I can’t click it. I’ll miss the target every time. And that also goes for people who have tremors, who have cerebral palsy, older folks who maybe have dexterity as they age, people with arthritis, people who had a stroke. So while it’s there, and it’s reachable for somebody who doesn’t have any disabilities, it’s not reachable for all of us. That’s one of the biggest ones actually, is that you make your targets too small, you make your text too small. Color contrast is harder on a phone than it is on desktop. And people love to take advantage of like the full Retina display and everything and they’re like, oh, well, this gray, odd yellow is beautiful. Like, well, it’s it’s beautiful if you’re not in bright sun, it’s beautiful if you’re not colorblind. So if the environment is 100% correct, and the user has no disability, so it’s great, for the rest of us there’s a problem there. So those are those are the biggest ones on mobile. There’s a whole, like, there’s a whole list of different things that you do for mobile than you do for desktop. And I focus so much on desktop and web. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the mobile space. It’s something that I’m planning on learning over the next year. But I had the benefit when I was at Progressive that I was like the desktop person, and I had a peer who was the mobile person.
Alison Wade: That’s awesome.
Jenna Charlton: So it helped me get balance.
Alison Wade: Worked hand in hand. So are there any barriers or biases that you’ve experienced being a woman in testing?
Jenna Charlton: So there’s been some and it’s been, I’ve never been directly told, well, you can’t do this because you’re a woman. But while I was working somewhere, and I’m not going to say where I just I experienced a lot of gender based discrimination without realizing it was happening it was like being a frog in a pot of boiling water. I didn’t realize how bad it was until it was boiling around my ears and I didn’t have a way to get out anymore. I just I was the only woman in the office. I was really like my language was tone policed a lot. I sent an email that just said, Hey, can you do this for me? Thanks. I was told that it sounded aggressive or it sounded hostile.
Jessie Shternshus: Did you start it off with a curse word?
Jenna Charlton: Yeah, like, I was like, have more politeness to it found the email I got from a dude an hour ago.
Alison Wade: I get this all day long Jenna.
Jessie Shternshus: That’s because you have that emoji.
Alison Wade: The F you emoji.
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah. I’ve been trying to find a good way to tell you. I mean we are in the south Alison.
Alison Wade: Wait, wait, wait in the south we say bless your heart.
Jessie Shternshus: Bless your heart and then we put the emoji, further down so you might not catch it.
Alison Wade: That’s a really common thing we hear it Women Who Test days is women comparing things that have come out of their mouth, that things that come out of their male counterparts mouth and how they’re perceived. And not only how they’re perceived by men, but how they’re perceived by other women too. It’s really interesting. And I think that’s it that, again, is our innate bias that we have that we sort of grew up with that we even the best of us who fight hard against it. Still have that? Somewhat now, you know, DNA.
Jenna Charlton: Absolutely. And yeah, it took me a while to unlearn some of what I learned there. I didn’t trust my instincts anymore. I was told so I when I got to my next job, and I would send emails and things like that. I was told Why are they so soft? Like, why are you being so, so gentle and touchy? feely? And, like, please, and thank you and blah, blah, blah, blah, nice. Well, I thought, I’ve been told that my tone is too harsh. So I’ve been making sure to use a softer tone. And I remember my manager saying to me, don’t you ever think your tone is too harsh. It’s not, if they can’t deal with a woman saying, I need you to do this thing you told me you were going to do then we have a whole nother conversation to have. But you’re not the problem. That was a big part of my growth actually was being called out on learning all of those gender based things that I knew I shouldn’t have learned and unlearning them. It helped me in huge ways.
Alison Wade: And it’s great that you had someone in your life to give you that permission to say no, no, you’re not crazy. This is perfectly normal behavior and you’re not over the top.
Jenna Charlton: Yeah. And honestly, this is why women need women mentors.
Jessie Shternshus: Absolutely. And getting rid of the Playboy.
Alison Wade: There’s that too.
Jessie Shternshus: It blows my mind. Are you kidding me?
Alison Wade: Yeah, it’s like from the 70s. Right that thing?
Jenna Charlton: Yeah.
Alison Wade: It still goes around today. It’s like, it’s insane.
Jessie Shternshus: Ugh, good lord. That’s like when people would constantly ask me like, cuz I run my own business like, where are your kids? Like I’m on a flight, well, where are your kids? I’m like, I left them in the street. Hopefully, I don’t know. Hopefully they can fend for themselves. Like, like, would you ever ask that to a man? No, you know, like, like, what do you think I left them in the street to fend for themselves. Like people are ridiculous sometimes.
Jenna Charlton: I had, so weird thing about me I’m a Deacon at my church. Which is unusual because I blue hair.
Jessie Shternshus: That is awesome.
Alison Wade: I want a blue haired Deacon now!
Jessie Shternshus: I might come to church if I had a blue haired Deacon.
Alison Wade: Wait, you’re Jewish Jessie.
Jessie Shternshus: But I would come to church if I had a blue haired Deacon. I’d switch.
Alison Wade: Conversion going on right here on the podcast.
Jessie Shternshus: This podcast does crazy things. Go ahead Jenna, sorry.
Jenna Charlton: Okay, so there was somebody who said to somebody else and it got back to me. I can’t believe her husband lets her go galavanting all over the country like that. Doesn’t her husband want her at home? Now one, my husband is super proud of me, he’s super supportive, like holds the house down because I’m not there a lot. And like two get out of my business, he doesn’t let me do anything. I do what I want. Yeah, it was so, yeah.
Jessie Shternshus: Ew that is when you like when you vomit in the barf bag in front of you in the airline. Like that is what this thing is for.
Alison Wade: Cause they have those in church pews you know?
Jessie Shternshus: I don’t know. But now I know.
Alison Wade: Just like the airplanes are there for you.
Jessie Shternshus: Oh, people, human beings are so complicated.
Alison Wade: Yes, they are, they sure are. So how did you handle that? Like, what did you do? How were you angry? Were you like, Oh my gosh, how do I deal with this and what did that make you do?
Jenna Charlton: So I was angry. And I haven’t really done anything. I and the reason is because she’s older. And I don’t feel a need to create conflict around this, because who I am should speak volumes and it has a whole lot more to do with her than it does with me, if this is what she thinks. But I have plenty of people who know me and know my character and know what matters to me. That came to my defense that I don’t have to do anything. And that’s actually the cool thing about really building deep relationships with people is that sometimes they fight your battles for you.
Jessie Shternshus: I love that.
Alison Wade: That’s very, very wise and very mature of you except next time you’re gonna come to church with a t-shirt on the front that says “she gallivants”.
Jenna Charlton: I should have that shirt.
Jessie Shternshus: And on the back will be your new wrestling name.
Alison Wade: Maybe that is her new wrestling name. Oh, that got to be a little meaner than that, don’t they? Well, we’ll get to that. So, the talk about the intersection of marginalized identities, you know, I know that you that’s a passion of yours as well. So people in the tech community who are marginalized.
Jenna Charlton: So I, I see a lot of people talk about how important it is for for women to be intact and, and something I think we keep missing is conference. I especially see this with conferences. So like, Oh, well, we got a white woman to keynote. So we’re good. We checked the diversity box. And I’m like, but you didn’t because white women were not the minority anymore in this industry. I mean, yes, there aren’t a ton of us. But there’s a whole lot more diversity that goes a whole lot further than that. And I feel like I have a responsibility and other white ladies have a responsibility to speak up for for our sisters that are women of color, specifically, black and indigenous women of color. We need to advocate for them because they don’t get the same opportunities we do. And if at any opportunity, like if there’s ever a point where I can say, I can’t take this opportunity you’ve given me, but I have this awesome woman that I can recommend to you. And by the way, like, I want to see who else is speaking at this conference. Oh, it’s all men, except for this one woman you invited? Yeah, no, I’m not your diversity checkbox. It’s deeper than that and it’s bigger than that.
Alison Wade: Yeah, that’s always been so fabulous for me is I have an amazing network of women that I work with. And they have been just so gracious about giving me names and helping me find people and help me because you do have to go seek and find because they’re not always applying to conferences to speak for various reasons. And so I’ve really worked hard at that with the end. People have just been fantastic. I mean, I was looking for a DevSecOps person, and this woman that is really well known in the DevSecOps industry, could not speak but she literally took time to send and she’s like crazy busy, and she literally took the time to send me a list of 12 women detailing, you know all things about them, you know what they worked on, you know, just a small sentence about each person, but really kind of capturing the essence of each person and giving me their personal emails. And I was so grateful for that, because that helps everybody.
Jenna Charlton: Absolutely.
Jessie Shternshus: It’s so important for people to see themselves and others to, so that you can grow that community. If they’re not going to see anybody like themselves, then things shrink.
Alison Wade: Yes. Yes. And it’s not a good you know, Angie Jones did that video with John Frieda where she does the talk about that. She walked into a coding class for kids and there was a little girl that was like, you know, mommy, she has hair like me, and it’s so great for people to see people that look like them and it’s a huge need, and if you don’t see it you don’t you can’t be what you can’t see. Right?
Jenna Charlton: Right. Exactly.
Jessie Shternshus: So should we play a game?
Alison Wade: We should.
Jessie Shternshus: So I’m trying to think about what kind of game would it take to come up with a wrestling name?
Alison Wade: Maybe Jenna should tell us who her favorite wrestlers are so we have like a starting point here.
Jenna Charlton: Oh, goodness. Okay, so this is a hard thing to explain. My very favorite wrestler is a man named Credo. He’s from Scotland.
Alison Wade: Oh, yeah. Does he does he wrestle in a kilt?
Jenna Charlton: He doesn’t. But he does drink a lot while he wrestles and he is not very good. But he’s hysterical. Like he’s an actor more than he is a wrestler. His matches are more comedy, they are are a lot of fun. But I just adore this guy.
Alison Wade: And his name is Credo? Oh, and do we know where that came from?
Jenna Charlton: I have no idea where it came from. But then, let’s see Bianca BelAir. I really, really like her. She’s really high on my list.
Alison Wade: She must be fancy, right? Because she’s from Bel Air, right? She a fancy wrestler?
Jenna Charlton: She is not, although her gear is always super glittery. She’s really cool. She was a college athlete, I think, like holds a couple of like, records for college runners. And she’s fairly new, but she’s just ridiculously talented. And I just I love her. She’s, she’s great. Let’s see. And then Johnny Gargano who’s from Cleveland. So you know, I love my hometown boy. And that actually is his name, his parents own a restaurants called Garganos.
Alison Wade: That’s so funny. He’s not only is he wrestling, he’s marketing at the same time.
Jenna Charlton: And so his father when Johnny said he wanted to become a professional wrestler, set up a ring behind the restaurant like in the back alley so his kid and his friends could learn wrestling.
Jessie Shternshus: Man, this is so good
Jenna Charlton: I have weird hobbies
Alison Wade: I love it, you are so diverse because here you are software tester working in a technical field, blue hair Deacon of church, and loves pro wrestling.
Jessie Shternshus: I feel like you need to set up a ring behind the church. I’m thinking that would bring more people.
Alison Wade: What about the Gallivanting Deacon?
Jessie Shternshus: Oh my gosh, yes, the Gallivanting Deacon. This is so good! Let’s come up with ways, let’s make up a story about your first wrestling encounter, what do you think? We can do two words at a time going around, and at some point, we’ll come up with your name. It could be the Gallivanting Deacon. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, really. But we’ll just create a story and we each get to say two words as we go around, and if three come out, I’m not it doesn’t really work, we’re doing a game who cares? Okay, so I guess I’ll start and then do you want to go next, Alison, and then you Jenna?
Jessie Shternshus: One day
Alison Wade: The ring
Jenna Charlton: Oh, gosh. Okay, hold on. Was infront
Jessie Shternshus: of the
Alison Wade: church hole.
Jenna Charlton: She walked
Jessie Shternshus: up to
Alison Wade: the stage
Jenna Charlton: and climbed
Jessie Shternshus: right in,
Alison Wade: fast and furious.
Jenna Charlton: She posed
Jessie Shternshus: really well
Alison Wade: and primped
Jenna Charlton: her up do.
Jessie Shternshus: Her name
Alison Wade: was the
Jenna Charlton: Don’t let somebody else’s name. Pink Poppy
Jessie Shternshus: Whoo. Ah
Alison Wade: The Pink
Jenna Charlton: Poppy was
Jessie Shternshus: so awesome
Alison Wade: she was mesmerizing
Jenna Charlton: and covered in glitter.
Jessie Shternshus: But then
Alison Wade: an unfortunate
Jessie Shternshus: event happened. Oops!
Alison Wade: Getting carried away their Jess.
Jessie Shternshus: I’m excited. Sorry, take it away Jenna,
Jenna Charlton: her opponents
Jessie Shternshus: came up
Alison Wade: and hit
Jenna Charlton: her in the jaw.
Jessie Shternshus: Ouch. Cried
Alison Wade: The Poppy Pink
Jenna Charlton: and she fell.
Jessie Shternshus: Wah, she
Alison Wade: rebounded from
Jenna Charlton: the mat
Jessie Shternshus: and sprung into
Alison Wade: trophy winning
Jenna Charlton: pile driver.
Alison Wade: A trophy winning pile drive. I love it.
Jessie Shternshus: Jenna came
Alison Wade: to the
Jenna Charlton: center of
Jessie Shternshus: the mat
Alison Wade: and she
Jenna Charlton: pinned her
Jessie Shternshus: self to
Alison Wade: the Pink Poppy.
Jenna Charlton: I’m confused.
Jessie Shternshus: So are we.
Alison Wade: I thought Jenna was the Pink Poppy. Then all of a sudden she came into the ring Jessie!
Jenna Charlton: I’m not wearing water proof mascara.
Alison Wade: Could you imagine coming to our conference with black eyes? Then they are really going to think she is the Gallivanting Deacon. Right?
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah. The Black Eyed Poppy. Oh there’s your name. I knew we’d come up with the name!
Alison Wade: That’s right. What’s the name? Is it the Black Eyed Poppy?
Jessie Shternshus: The Black Eyed Poppy.
Alison Wade: There you, go that’s your wrestling name. Bam!
Jessie Shternshus: Anything else you want us to do for you?
Jenna Charlton: I think we’re good.
Jessie Shternshus: The Black Eyed Poppy that is going to the be the name of your episode.
Alison Wade: That is it. So Jenna Charlton aka Black Eyed Poppy what’s coming up next, tell us about the talks that you’re doing this year and where people can see you and get to know you.
Jenna Charlton: Okay. So you can see me at EPIC, I’ll be doing a talk called Exploring Inclusion. You can see me as the MC at TestBash Detroit. I am speaking at Agile + DevOps West and feel like oh, and Agile Testing Days USA and I think that’s every, oh and Mile High Testers in Denver.
Alison Wade: Excellent. Yeah and actually Jenna is going to be teaching some trading classes there, are you teaching the Software Testing Foundational class the the ISTQB class?
Jenna Charlton: I am. So at EPIC I’m doing Agile Testing Certification.
Alison Wade: Perfect.
Jenna Charlton: And then at STARWEST, is it West? Yes. STAREAST and Agile + DevOps West I think I’m doing, I’m teaching something. I apologize I have lost track.
Alison Wade: So If you want to learn testing, what I want to tell our listeners is if you want to learn testing from Jenna, she is a person who has clearly learned it from the ground up and is an amazing instructor and would be just a fantastic people for people new to testing, or people who want to break into testing, or even people who are experienced, can get a lot out of that foundational class. And so she’s there and she’s a fantastic teacher.
Jenna Charlton: I’m excited. I can’t wait to see people.
Alison Wade: Excellent. Well, thank you for joining us today. This has been so much fun. We have loved having you.
Jenna Charlton: This was a really good time. Thank you so much for having me.
Alison Wade: Thanks for being a woman who is changing tech every day.
Jessie Shternshus: Thank you, Jenna.
Jenna Charlton: Thank you.
Jessie Shternshus: Wow, that was great. Other than the fact that Jenna now has the new name of the Black Eyed Poppy with really the throw down. There were so many great gems in this episode. I really loved hearing kind of her working journey around how she came into being a tester and I really loved her talking about having her first female manager and how that was where she got the kind of spread her wings and have her first talk. And she got to lead this really cool experiential learning activity which I always love to hear how people are leading experiential activities because that’s kind of my jam. So that was really interesting hearing about that and I love hearing about how important inclusion is in technology and why that matters to her. And I really liked the story that she told about the woman Regina who is at a code school in Ohio. Didn’t you think that was interesting?
Alison Wade: Yeah. And And honestly, she kind of turned my brain around to hear her say that tech for for people can be a pathway out of poverty is just such an exciting concept. And I loved hearing how she’s been helping in particular women learn this trade and change their life.
Jessie Shternshus: Yeah, I thought it was so, so cool. Not only did it change this woman’s life, but then she paid it forward. She was then having foster children in our home. So it’s like, it doesn’t just stop at those people at these code schools that are turning their lives around and stopping the cycle of poverty, but then they’re able to give back to society to and want to, and I just I loved that. I thought that was incredible. What was something that really stuck with you?
Alison Wade: Yeah, I really love that. I really love the perspective that she was giving us about how she’s just so passionate about everything she does. And then that comes through all aspects of everything she’s doing, you know, her passion for testing, her passion for learning, her passion for helping other people. I loved hearing about accessibility issues that people have with software and then the impact that that can actually make on your end product and some of the hidden things that she told us that the average customer wouldn’t look for the average client wouldn’t look for that about their customers that they might be missing. That’s an important part of inclusion in products. So I think I really love that stuff around accessibility. And what that means and how testers can use that in their work.
Jessie Shternshus: Definitely.
Alison Wade: Let’s play that again.
Jenna Charlton: When we look at accessibility, we talk about making sure disabled users are able to use our software, we talked about making sure that maybe late adopters are able to use our software. And late adopters are kind of like the forgotten users that need a little extra help. Like we all forget about our grandparents who their first computer was their fault. You know, they didn’t, they didn’t learn on desktop, they didn’t learn on a laptop. They learned by using their iPhone that their grandkids bought them. So we tend to leave them behind. So that’s part of inclusion too. But then it’s also really important that we’re looking out for users that are blind that are hearing impaired or are deaf. Or maybe have a mobility challenge or that, you know, if we make things too busy if they’re on the spectrum and the web page is just way, way, way too much and it’s overly complicated and it’s, it’s triggering it, it kind of like is overstimulating. You know, it’s all of those people, we want to be inclusive to all of them. And it’s not just about doing the right thing while they’re doing the right thing is really important. It’s also about bottom lines. And when we build our software that includes everybody, we make more money.
Alison Wade: You’ve been listening to Women Who Change Tech, the podcast that connects you to extraordinary women for deep, inspiring conversations.