A couple of fantastic people who I am glad to call friends have started a community on IT Unity called Women in Technology. I first met Heather at a TechEd event in which she was coordinating the Office/SharePoint speakers. (BTW, that is a role intended for a saint – us speaker types tend to think highly of ourselves.) As it was my first time speaking at a large, prominent conference, there was a lot I didn’t know. But Heather took care of every need and answered every question.
Cathy was working for a former colleague of mine, and I was asked to help her put a site design into SharePoint. Since I am graphically challenged, I immediately started asking questions that I am sure were annoying. But we share a passion for the same hockey team and I think that helped her put up with me.
The traits that these two have in common: extremely talented in their area; exceptional ability to communicate; willing to help and share their talent/experience with others; and they are both women. The most noteworthy attribute of a colleague must be what they bring to the team. The technology landscape is so varied that no one person can know/do everything well. Having a diverse set of skills is essential. Gender does not matter.
I don’t mean to diminish the struggle that women have in the workplace. The fact that a group to empower and support women is necessary is a bit embarrassing to me as a non-woman. It is a sad state of affairs, but it is the state we are in. Changing this state will not be quick or easy, but the Women in Technology group is a great resource to elevate everyone to see the capabilities of a colleague regardless of what type of person they are.
I encourage everyone to read the stories of the technologists in this community. I think you’ll find their stories are quite inspirational: a student who was unsure of their field of study; a graduate who went thru the corporate directory A to Z to find a job; a kid working full-time to pay for college and took 6+ years to get thru it. All of them are success stories, and all of them are worth reading.
Congrats to Heather, Cathy and the IT Unity staff on the launch and best wishes on making the community larger and better for everyone.