Summit Women In Technology Luncheon
Today I was honored to attend and blog live from the tenth annual Women In Technology Luncheon at the SQL PASS Summit 2012. This is my first Women in Technology luncheon at any level. I have attended several SQL Saturdays but there has not been a WIT event at any of those events.
There was a phenomenal turnout and many people, men and women alike, are sporting the #SQLKilts in honor of the event. Wendy Pastrick hosted the event and the panel included Kevin Kline, Denise McInerney, Kendra Little, Stefanie Higgins, and Jen Stirrup, the PASSion Award winner for 2012. Wendy noted that the room was setup for 720 people and from my perspective it appears that the room is close to full, I found out afterwards that their were 695 attendees from the count.
Stefanie Higgins, founder of the original WIT luncheon, began by discussing the lack of women in her college computer science program which continued later into a certification course that she attended where she was the only woman in the class. The instructor ignored her throughout the week and later admitted after she passed the course that he ignored her and was intimidated by her presence in the class. Stefanie stated that “I think we’ve come a long way, we have more to go though.”
Denise McInerney then discussed that back at her first Summit in 2002 there were only 1 or 2 women in each session and how WIT has women’s participation in the organization as well as SQL Saturday. She stated that in 2011, the first year that the statistics were collected by PASS, the organization consisted of 15% women among attendees and speakers for SQL Saturdays. She also stated that women leave technology careers twice as much as their counterparts.
Kevin Kline then discussed the SQL community and how the board grew the Summit into a friendly conference as opposed to bigger conferences like those sponsored by IBM and Oracle. He also discussed his perspective in raising six daughters and their struggles with technology coming primarily from their friends and not as much from patriarchal structure of society, which has gotten better but still exists.
Jen Stirrup then spoke about the declining percentages of women in technology across Europe. She also discussed their efforts to grow the WIT organization across Europe. Although they have had low numbers of women attending the SQL Saturday WIT events, they are seeing many men attending and discussing the issues surrounding WIT and it is encouraging for the future.
Kendra Little, MCM and MVP, starting speaking at SQL Saturday events and she discussed how that changed her outlook as an “employee” and then she started connecting with people in her sessions and that led her realizing that she could be a mentor and a teacher. She started to feel like she could be a consultant and own her own business whereas when she was an employee previously it had never occurred to her. Now she encourages other women to start speaking and sharing.
It was at this point that the luncheon was turned over to the floor for questions and comments. There were many insightful observations and questions from several audience members. Many people wanted to find resources for their local area so that they could become affiliated with the WIT organization. They were referred to wit.sqlpass.org, which has resources available for everyone if they are interested in starting their own WIT chapter or looking for more information in order to make their local groups more successful. The firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address is also available.
Personally I would like to see more being done in my area with my user group as well as my local SQL Saturdays throughout the State of Florida. Maybe the discussion will begin with this blog or sometime during the planning of our next SQL Saturday scheduled for March. Enjoy!