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Printed 2014/10/25 07:36PM

SQLPASS Day 2: WIT Luncheon Live Blog

By Jen McCown, 2010/11/10

12:42pm local time at the live streamed Women in Technology luncheon…let’s blog. I’ll italicize my comments, to differentiate betwee that an my paraphrasing of the panel members.

We’re just getting started. Wendy Pastrick just recognized the kilt-wearers, GoDaddy and Microsoft, and the PASS Board of Directors.  Check out PASS WIT at wit.sqlpass.org and @PASS_WIT

Panel is made up of Michelle Ufford, Nora Denzel, Denise McInerney, Billie Jo Murray, and Stacia Misner.

Why does “women in technology” matter?

Michelle: 1.4 million jobs opening in IT in the next 8 years. Diversity in the workforce is good for the company’s bottom line…

Nora: “I’ve never been at a technical conference where the men wore skirts.”  First computer was a Commodore VIC-20. Majored in computer science

“I like unstructured data a little better, but I’m not judging…”  “I’ve been on the cover of computer storage magazine…if you brought your copy, I will go out and sign it.”

“Diversity is a means to an end. We find that when we have homogeneous teams…when you’re trying to attract talent, diverse people just won’t come in.”

Serves on the Anita Borg Institute…

“When women are exposed to technology .. they’ll use those problem solving skills to help other women.” I personally find that a little bit….rah-rah us. I’m not sure that women are necessarily more giving than men, but we’re not getting into that debate at this moment.

Denise: There’s 2 aspects of IT jobs. They pay really well…it’s a good gig. Having financial independence is important to women.”  [Here I had a brief verbal scuffle with LaRock, and we came out friends.] Second aspect
“that we tend to take for granted. What we’re value for is how smart we are…for our intellectual capacity…”  We like to think that tech is a meritocracy…

Being smart in school “isn’t cool, because boys won’t like them. That contrast can be held up ” as an example for young women, that’ll really help them.

Those are both things that are worth thinking about, and 2 of the reasons of why it’s important to have women in tech.

Quoting Bill Gates: “If you’re [Saudi Arabia] not using half the talent in the country, you’re not going to be ” a force in IT.

“What an impact technology has on everything. … because of the huge impact technology has, recruiting and keeping women in tech ” is very important.

“Tweet or blog why it matters to you.”

Billie Jo Murray: Having conversations with her teenage daughter about technology. Funny thing is, she uses texting and the internet for all of her friend communications.

Asking her daughter: Who do you want to be? Titles don’t matter as much. Men want to talk titles, and women want to talk what it takes to get there, what you do, what the benefits are.

Need clarity of numbers: Billie Jo said 500 MVPs – only 5% women - but there are 300 SQL Server MVPs and over 3,000 worldwide.

Agreement at our table: It’s up to the women in technology to get out there and be valuable, so that there will be more female MVPs.  I added that Microsoft also may need to pay more attention to the women that are out there doing it.  Thomas LaRock was inspired:

Stacia Misner: Is a historian….

[I was looking up numbers here, I missed a little.]

…it’s difficult to achieve work-life balance, but we have tech to deal with that. It shouldn’t be that difficult. I had 2 kids as a women in tech, and I managed to get through it. “You can’t have a successful BI project without involving business people”, good way to get more women involved in technology. Let women know the possibilities.

Start younger, at the university level. Do we find a way to inject ourselves into career fairs? Or do you start younger and go into schools? I know Lynn Languit promotes DigiGirls, but is that enough? What else can we do?

We spoke yesterday about using SQL Saturday-like events for women. But then, why can’t that be for boys, too? I struggle with this idea of promoting women, but I see that they’re underrepresented, too.

And now, the QnA.


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