TechEd Day 3 was the result of mishap and endurance training: 4 hours of sleep, lost wallet, found wallet, sore feet, the final smart decision to BRING party clothes TO the booth so I am not caught dancing in my Microsoft logowear (I will say I was one of the better dancers on the floor, so I did not disgrace the company, but I’m sure it gave people a startle because I move very sedately at work), and a lot of running around.
The Women In Technology lunch was very cool – a panel discussion where folks talked about what it’s like to rise as a woman in a male-dominated field. One woman – I think it was Angela Mills but it might have been the woman sitting next to her – talked about walking into a room full of men. She said, she mentors tons of women and they always mention this intimidation factor of being the only woman walking into a room of 20 guys. That’s the wrong way to think of it – it is your business skills and who you are that buys your seat at the table. Coming into the room framing yourself as a woman and getting all sheepish about the fact you are a woman, is no good and makes no sense. You need to stand in who you are, and be that person, and don’t let folks interrupt you, and don’t be silent.
I also feel that bringing donuts gets you attention. While the guys are eating and their mouths are full – THEN you can pounce and make your point.
I think this is good advice at least in the beginning when folks may feel afraid to speak. Later, when you are speaking your piece readily but are not getting the results you want, is when you need to look at – is the reception I’m getting something I can affect, or is it something out of my hands? This works for all folks who are different coming into a group that is mostly homogenous in some way. But, for example, I’m sure there are folks who don’t believe in Betsy and for whatever reason, will not be swayed whether I was bold or timid, brilliant or modest in my intellectual horsepower. Those folks I delegate to my fan club to beat on, er deal with nicely. 😀
Mostly I was pleased that the luncheon existed and that these kinds of discussions about what women face are still going on. We’ve made some strides but since women are still outnumbered here at TechEd, it’s not hard to see that we could go further to increase parity. There’s no one formula proffered by the panel- some women talked about goals, others have not actually managed their career that way, but the first thing to do is take on the challenge of living your best life and figuring out what you want. The roads you take may be different, but if you have your North Star within yourself you will do fine.
Live it vivid!
PS Shoutout to Mike Hahn of Humana, the guy who asks everyone where the parties are – this is your blog fame moment!.