Tuesday, February 2, 2016

WIT-Diversity Panel: Parenting Daughters in an IT world & Why Its Important

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a panel at SQL Saturday #480 in Nashville, TN.  Instead of a traditional Women in Technology panel, this one was a diversity panel discussing a WIT topic.  We assembled a group of SQL professionals, Justin Dearing, Patrick LeBlanc, Arlene Rose and I to discuss raising daughters in a very tech savvy world.  Parenting is hard.  We all know that.  Parenting girls is really hard.  Adding to this already complicated job, is our technology based way of thinking & problem solving.  It's probably not a great idea to create a project road map for your children. The IT field isn't very diverse, but we have the opportunity to change that in a generation: encouraging young females, calling out other biases in the field and coming up with positive solutions.  Are we raising tech savvy daughters? Should we be? 
We asked each panelist to talk about themselves, their family & how they approach parenting in general.  Two men, two women.  Married, divorced. One girl, two girls, a boy & girl. Teenagers, toddlers.  Varied backgrounds but similar answers to the questions presented.  Would you encourage their daughter to enter the tech industry? Why or why not? What tech opportunities do you provide? What do you do to encourage a positive attitude toward tech?
Both Arlene & Patrick don't have to push their daughters into tech at all.  The girls gravitate toward it. So these parents only have to fuel a fire that's already there. When presented with the chance, the girls have opted to find IT solutions to problems, even if that problem is just boredom.  My daughter is aware of technology, uses it to her advantage, games for hours but has no interest in the creating... only the creation.  Justin, the father of one 2 year old girl with another on the way, is only beginning to identify how he wants to approach technology.  He jokes that as a programmer, he wishes he could automate parenting.  I have friends who would love to write a PowerShell script to handle the job. I think that was something a lot of us can relate to.  He made a great point though, parenting is a little more free form but there is no restore from backup. 
We went through a few different topics.  I'd like to hear your thoughts below.
  • How does being in IT affect or change the way you parent? Does it affect the way you parent a daughter vs a son? Should it?
  • Has parenting a daughter affected the way your recognize/define diversity?
  • Would you encourage your daughter to enter the tech industry? Why or why not?
  • What are your expectations for your daughter in everyday life? How do those apply to your expectations around technology?
  • What tech opportunities do you provide?
  • What do you do to encourage a positive attitude toward science & tech?
I often tell my daughter this. I don't care who you love; I care that you love. I don't care what you do; I care that you do.
Ultimately we all agreed, technology field or not, we'd encourage our daughters to just to be happy.

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