For the second consecutive year, I had the privilege of sitting at the blogger’s table during the Professional Association for SQL Server’s Women in Technology luncheon at the annual Summit conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This luncheon was over a week ago and today is the first chance that I have had to sit down and really put my thoughts together. Therefore, I apologize for the delay.
The theme for this year’s luncheon was “BEYOND STEREOTYPES: Equality, Gender, Neutrality, and Valuing Diversity.” The distinguished panel consisted of Rob Farley, Erin Stellato, Cindy Gross, Kevin Kline and Gail Shaw. The luncheon was moderated by my dear friend Mickey Stuewe. The bloggers present included Jes Borland, Mark Stacey, Karen Lopez, Grant Fritchey, Jen McCown, Jen Stirrup and Laerte Junior. As you can see it was very humbling to be chosen amongst that lineup.
It has become a tradition at the #PASSWIT luncheon for men and women to wear #SQLKilts to support the Women in Technology. Next year, I should be able to wear a kilt, however this year I wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. This luncheon was very moving for me this year and I found myself caught up in the conversations instead of taking notes. However, I did manage to grab some very good quotes outlined below:
Gail Shaw was asked if she had to make an effort to fit in within the technology community to which she replied: “No I don’t because I can’t literally be bothered.”
Cindy Gross later said “Every single person is prejudiced about something…”
Kevin Kline said that stereotypes are the index pages because our brains cannot know intimate details for more than maybe 150 people, for the rest we rely on stereotypes.
Rob Farley said for us to “Stand up and be the person who champions what is right.”
Erin Stellato when asked by a question from the floor about how to make it in the industry with all of the stereotypes working against you said “How am I not going to make it? Push through the stress and win!”
My daughter started at the University of South Florida this week and a story she told me last night made me sad, very sad. Her roommate is a bright young lady who has chosen to major in engineering. With my strong feelings for the Women in Technology group within our SQL Server community, this made me very happy to hear about her desire to enter a STEM profession. However, after two days of classes, I was told that she has already been harassed and ridiculed for her choice of major in the predominately male classes. At this point I really do not know the specifics nor does that matter. The fact remains that there was enough of a problem that she told my daughter about it. That makes me angry.
I am thinking the next time that I go back to campus, I will do my best to encourage this young lady with some personal stories of strong, courageous women in technology that I know. Until then I told my daughter to encourage her and to let her know that I am rooting for her and to not give up because our STEM professions need her, our society needs her, and we need her.