I am woman… No, *I* am woman… No, *I* am woman…

As an aside… A group of women at my company are trying to build a technical women’s network, and I’m on a conference call about it as we speak (of course, fully paying attention!). Technical women here feel like they would be well-served to network better together. The thing is, there already exists a network that calls itself a “business women’s network,” which also is well-served by the cause of banding better together, and which also experiences many of the very same frustrations with advancing in the company.

What’s in a name? That which we call a “technical woman” would still be a “business woman”? That which we call a “business woman” would still remain a “technical woman”? Perhaps it comes down to getting a more detailed definition of what one group is vs. another, and I know the importance of names (hence my love of “liberal application of quotation marks“). Perhaps it comes down to not forming a new group and instead joining in with the existing group. And I know we share a lot in common. I know that — particularly in this age of resource-strappage — we need to join up and help each other out all we can (just think of the fire alarm incident in my condo complex the other night! … but that’s a different story). And I know we all can feel alike and awkward in social situations, from time to time.

And yet… all I can think of at the moment is that last night, I had the privilege of dining with Dr. Fran Berman (at the wonderful Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park). Five of us gathered together and nobody knew Fran and Fran didn’t know any of us before last night. But we spent the whole night practically stumbling over ourselves talking about all we had in common, all the values we shared — including love of sustainable local food, plus a liberal dosage of geek-outtedness including the importance of cloud computing and super-machinery that works on really huge data sets! It was one of those rare events during which I practically did NOT feel socially awkward at all. But I feel awkward in my job in my company all the time.

Exactly all the better a reason to join the “two sides” together? May it be, the days of “you’re either with us… or you’re with the enemy” are over. But you, and you, and you are all still unique.

4 thoughts on “I am woman… No, *I* am woman… No, *I* am woman…

  1. Hi,

    I want to encourage you to form a “Women in Technology” group, though I’m an (evil) man. I have done quite a bit of hiring in technology and while my team’s have often benefited from female membership, there aren’t enough women applying for, taking and staying in technology jobs to meet demand. Women may benefit from advice and teamwork from fellow females in the industry, not to mention the ability to tee off with an occasional “my boss is a jerk..” conversation to vent frustration. Good luck and let me know if you need names of some more WITs (Women in Technology) to join your crew.

  2. hi dpatti!

    thanks for the visit and encouragement. you’re hitting it on the head:
    >> there aren’t enough women applying for, taking and staying in technology jobs to meet demand…

    i’ll never forget going to the Grace Hopper Celebration in 2006 and listening to Sally Ride speak eloquently about how boys & girls start out with equal interests in math and sciences… and soon enough diverge due to societal pressures and/or lack of role models. especially since i have a young daughter, these things are important to me.

    we’ve got a lot of inner-company interest and have some great ideas about networking with other external groups such as ABI… but we’re a bit hung up on (for lack of a better word?) turf right now with the existing women’s group in the company.

    if you have any insights about how multiple women’s groups can work together within one company, or how to resolve potentially differing missions, i’d greatly appreciate it…
    thanks again for your comment,

  3. Perhaps a question that needs to be asked (my favorite) is: What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Is this a women’s network? Or a technical network? Would the MBA women feel uncomfortable if someone talks about technology? Or is this a good opportunity to try to undo some of the “tech and business people can’t relate” feeling and work on “we’re all working women with many similar issues”?

    Given that many managers are “business” it might help a lot for “business” and “technical” to find some common ground in “well, we’re all women. Let’s work with that.”

    If ’twere me, I’d start by trying to have one group. Together we can do more than separately.

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