Today we have a guest editorial from Julie Yack, MVP, and organizer of the Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta. I asked Julie to write on this simple statement: are women and men different? This week is filled with guest editorials that tackle this subject, and I hope you enjoy them. - Steve Jones
During a conversation with my buddy Steve Jones about women in technology I made a flippant comment that went something like….“A woman in technology can be just as big of a prick at work as any man I know, gender makes no difference.” I think this was the precipice to his asking for my editorial about women in technology and the difference between women and men. Who knows what she might say? This could be fun.
I stand by that comment but will elaborate, hopefully with slightly more eloquence this time.
The current mix at work puts me as the only woman in the office. I am often one of the only women at a professional event; I think at Tech Ed North America the ratio was about 10 to 1. I find my gender a benefit to my career; I’m easy to remember since I’m usually the only one there. This is the superficial part of being a woman in my chosen career path. Add into this mix that once I open my mouth I can hold my own, I am an intellectual equal to those that surround me.
But, do I behave differently because I am a woman? How would I know? This is all I know. What I do know is that too often women allow themselves to feel inferior when they are not. Too often this happens at home as well as at work. When you are not supported at home to facilitate your success at work that is very unfortunate. That, however, is your own fault. To place the blame on society is irresponsible.
One solution? Teach the next generation of their worth, their equality regardless of their gender. This will help the problem in two ways. First is hopefully obvious, it will shape the mindset of that generation. The second, perhaps less obvious benefit is that by teaching the next group of girls of their equality we will be selling ourselves on the same concept.
Another solution? Stop acting different. See to it that all around you are treated fairly. Use discretion in your own conversations and cut others some slack too in theirs. Stop teasing the man that takes a day off at home with a sick kid. Make sure that in your own home those situations are divided also. If you miss more work because you are always the only parent with kid duty, then you deserve fewer opportunities, raises and promotions because you have made yourself less reliable and available to your job. That is certainly a viable choice but don’t mistake it for something else. I understand that kids are only young once.
Intellectually women and men start at the same point. Life choices impact where that goes. And at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our life choices. Marriage, children, education, work are all ingredients to all of our lives; the balance is ours to make.
Now back to address my prior remark about behavior. Gender should have no bearing on your behavior at work. Don’t blame your mood or actions on PMS (or anything else in the hormone family). You’ve had cyclical hormonal fluctuations for 20 years or so? See a doctor or move along. Own your actions; don’t blame them on some perceived flaw. And to the men, we hear you when you grumble under your breath about our hormones, even if it’s not true. A woman can be your equal and if you spend too much time grumbling under your breath, she will quickly become your superior.