I was at SQL Saturday 723 in Rochester, NY last weekend. I was selected to deliver 2 sessions, and I planned to fill the rest of my schedule watching other session during the day. Overall this was another great SQL Saturday. But that’s not why I’m here today…
A new session emerged in the lunch timeslot this year. The Women in Technology Panel Discussion.
This is the first time SQL Saturday Rochester has ever done a Women in Technology panel. It was the only session during this timeslot and there was no abstract so I could see what it was all about beforehand. The lack on information left me questioning whether or not I should attend. Was this session just for women?
So I decided to take a chance and go see for myself. I figured if there were no other men in attendance I could just pretend I was in the wrong room and leave. Somewhere along the way to room 2400 I met up with event organizer Andy Levy (Blog|Twitter) and decided to ask him about the session. He assured me that men were definitely invited, and that he himself was headed to the session. This helped ease my fears a bit so I proceeded to room 2400 with Andy, and I’m so glad I did.
I just sat quietly and listened while some of the stories opened my eyes me to a not so great side of being a woman in technology. Some of it made me feel uncomfortable, some of it made me feel sad, and some of it made me fell angry, but all of it made me open my eyes. I’d like to think that these things don’t happen to women at my places of employment, but I’m not that naive. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention. Lets just say I came out of that session a bit wiser and a little more aware.
My favorite statement during the session was addressed to all of the men in attendance. This may not be the exact words, but it went something like this:
“Men, please teach your daughters about the challenges they will face in the workplace, but make sure you also teach your sons.”
I think the underlying message there is that everyone plays a part in eliminating the gender bias that exists for Women in Technology. Women already know the challenges they face - they’re living it! Talking about it in an open forum with men will raise awareness and hopefully together we can help balance the ship.
So men, if you find yourself at a conference and see a Women in Technology Panel Discussion, yes you are invited. I highly encourage you to go and listen. Chances are you will hear something that makes you uncomfortable, or sad, or mad, and that’s OK. That means you’re actually listening!
I believe that we men will play a big role in eliminating the gender bias that exists today, and I am happy to partner with and support the Women in Technology in this fight.