You have to understand — when I was invited to join this group I was compelled to openly confess my love for each of the women that I already knew. There are some very fine thoughts trafficking on this blog and these are excellent people with which to be associated.
So when I was invited to join, of course, I panicked.
I have known and admired genetically engineered raconteur@cathybrooks since Prop 8 and I have enjoyed many Twitter threads and even commentary on this blog from Cathy.
It was @yojibee who — totally outside the inner-connected sphere of our worklives — reached out to me during a fear of flying bout or two — and located across the world as she is, she also provides excellent insomanic company.
And then there’s @marilynpratt. I was only recently lucky enough to meet Marilyn face-to-face. There are many things you could say about Marilyn, but there’s no point to words when you’re touched by a piece of her soul.
So you can see how I panicked. But I stepped in with a post and I intend to continue reciprocating the honor as best I can. I already have a folder or two of additional posts I am incubating — Now — barring only the discovery of the time…
In the meantime — likewise, I’d be honored if you’d check it out over at Technically Women and grace us with your thoughts. Thank you!
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.
A technical conference, GHC is the largest gathering of women in computing in the United States. Childcare is a relatively new and unique offering at a technical conference, typically dominated by men.
As Deanna Kosaraju, GHC Program Manager at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, points out:
We recognize that many women have multiple jobs and we are leading on this issue to find creative ways to help our women-technologist care for their families as well as their professional and technical development. The GHC conference is a signal to other technical conferences and to industry that in order to attract, retain and advance women the culture of computing needs to change.
This childcare will span the entire length of the conference, including all keynotes, sessions, and banquets, etc. But it’s not just women who benefit. This benefits:
Anyone who has a child ages zero and up. Presumably by the time your children area 18, this isn’t an issue anymore, but if you’ve got kids who can’t be ‘home alone,’ and you’re the primary caregiver, chances are you’ve missed out on some career-building events in your life. With more childcare in strategic places (and that includes companies), you stand to lose far fewer opportunities. This includes mothers as well as fathers, though women report far more responsibility for taking care of kids than do men.
Everyone else. Diversity along all conceivable axes – and those we haven’t even conceived of yet – is key to innovation. A multitasking parent can be a tremendous source of innovation. Tech conferences and other centers of innovation are wise to be more inclusive of this potential.
Now – if those conferences like Web 2.0 and the other O’Reilly conferences start offering childcare, they might actually get women to attend, not to mention to speak. SAP: are we next?