I've never attended this in the past, but I've wanted to. As the father of young girl I want to be sure that my daughter has the same opportunities as my sons in the career world. Supporting other women in technology just feels like something I should do.
The luncheon was a panel of 4 women, moderated by Wendy Patrick. Kathi Kellenburger, Jessica Moss, Cathi Rodgveller, and Lynn Langit participated, sharing their stories and backgrounds. From Kathi's inspiration from her own daughter to get started with Active Server Pages to Jessica providing a roll model for a friend's young girls, it's inspiring to hear them talk with a passion on how to interest young women in technology.
Cathy Rodgveller has started IGNITE, a group looking to inspire young women in the Seattle school districts. I think that exposing children to options, and getting them to just consider alternative careers is something we need to do more of. Cathy has also created other groups that help other minorities, empowering them to open their minds to other
We already have less math, science, and engineering students in the US than in the past, but the percentage of women is declining. That's disconcerting to me. I've enjoyed seeing more and more women coming to the PASS Summit every year, and becoming a larger proportion of the data professional population. I hope that it continues in the future.
Lynn Langit, author and BI professional, gave us ideas about how to grow our efforts. She asked everyone to tweet or text someone and show support for women in technology. Brian Kelley was my tweet since he's not here, he has a daughter, and I think he'd like this. Lynn donates a portion of her royalties from her BI book to DigiGirlz. If you need a BI book, that's a good reason to pick Lynn's among the others. Put your money where you mouth is.
Use your voice, engage with girls, is Lynn's message.
If there's one thing I'd learned in my life, it's the power of words. I write on a regular basis, and he feedback I get from so many of you is how I make you think. I hear how I inspire others to reconsider their viewpoint, to stop for a moment and think about things in a new way. Take the time to talk to a women, a girl, a minority and show them that they can do succeed in technology if they want to.
There is tremendous power in just talking about possibilities.
How do you break the image? Cathy sees young women stuck with myths about working in technology. You have to work alone, be super smart, long hours, etc. They are misconceptions. Young women don't know what is involved, and we should get involved. Share your story.
A few notes from the question and answer time.
Men constantly ask for things from Lynn, women don't (time, money, freebies, etc). Why? Women need to speak up and ask for help, support, etc.
Why women's participation in technology has fallen? Girls are not inspired by technology. They are not encouraged or supported in schools to get interested in technology. Is that true? I wonder. My children have had a number of "technology" teachers, though it was not programming or technical work. Cathy says IGNITE is very inexpensive to run, so it's worth bringing up to local schools. I'll pass it along to the technology teachers in my school district.
How does a man inspire a girl in technology? The panel talked about the importance of men participating, but it's sad that they didn't give any ideas for men.
That's true, and different groups need to help other groups. Women should focus on women. Minorities on minorities. Technologists focus on technology. It takes a small effort from many people, each of us focusing in our own area, the effect changes. If we say that everyone should focus on everyone, there is no focus.
Education is the key. Teach young people about many ideas, a variety of thoughts, teach them to think for themselves.