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.