Monday, July 11, 2016

Presenting on Gender Bias & Inequality at SQL Saturday #527, Columbus, Ohio

     This coming Saturday, July 16th, I'll be presenting my Women in Technology session on Identifying, Understanding and Combating Gender Bias.  First, let me thank Dave Maxwell (T|B) & the other organizers for inviting me to be a part of this event. Second, let me congratulate them on selecting so many sessions presented by women.  It wasn't a conscious effort on their part but I think that's just as amazing.  I'm told frequently by organizers that they'd love to pick more women speakers, but they just aren't submitting.  That wasn't the case here, 7 of the 30 sessions are presented by women.  We've seen similar ratios at Pensacola & upcoming in Baton Rouge. (SQLSat515)  Some of you may have noticed that we now highlight women speakers on a section of the PASS WIT page.  We continue to tweet about upcoming webinars and SQL Saturday speakers from the @PASS_WIT account.  Check these out frequently to see the great work women are doing in the PASS Community.

Here is a peek at the amazing line up of women coming up this Saturday in Columbus.  

Event Location Date Session Title Organizer 
SQLSat#527Columbus7/16/2016 It's OK to Talk to StrangersCassandra Faris
SQLSat#527 Columbus 7/16/2016 Inside the Black Box - Making Sense of Service BrokerColleen Morrow 
SQLSat#527Columbus7/16/2016Navigating the Options for Data RedundancyWendy Pastrick
SQLSat#527Columbus7/16/2016Improving Your PowerPoint SkillsEvelyn Maxwell
SQLSat#527Columbus 7/16/2016Designing Stored Procedure SolutionsJennifer McCown
SQLSat#527Columbus7/16/2016WIT: Identifying, Understanding, and Combating Gender BiasRie Irish
SQLSat#527Columbus7/16/2016(Way Too Much) Fun with Reporting ServicesStacia Varga

Check out their full schedule here:  SQL Saturday 527 Schedule

Do you think we need Professional Development sessions? What about WIT?

     You'd think by now that a WIT topic or even a Professional Development track would be at least without controversy and at best, expected.  That isn't the case here.  I don't intend to give someone more attention than they deserve, so I'll simply say that a few, isolated individuals think Prof Dev & WIT topics have no place at a technical event.  When they compare my session on Gender Bias to sessions on office lighting or their favorite flavor of Mountain Dew, their comments make me think Women In Technology topics are more needed than ever. I wanted to scream to the Internet what this session means.  This session defines inequality & bias, helps you identify when it's happening, provides context on why it's important to know and gives the attendee positive steps they can take to combat it.  Bias in hiring & promotion means dollars not invested in women in technology. Inequality in the work place is a big reason women are not coming to IT & why they aren't staying.  These things should be obvious, right?  How can you not get it?  Instead of screaming, I opted for a few deep breaths, a few edits and a calm, professional tone. Basically, I decided not to feed the trolls.

The SQL Community seems to think so.

     Then the good guys and ladies arrived. The outspoken, weight-carrying, vocal majority stepped up and defended the need for both WIT & Prof Dev sessions.  They cited reasons these sessions are important, related what you'd learn to common work-day scenarios and drew parallels instead of resorting to emotional, name-calling comments.  To call the outpouring of support "amazing" is an understatement.  It helped me put these negative comments into perspective. The insensitive jerks are the minority in IT.  The vast majority of our colleagues really want to be supportive & help further our push for equality.  And they want us to help them get there.

     As I read the positive comments from Andy Warren [T], Aaron Bertrand [T], Tim Radney[T], Neil Hambly[T], Steve Jones[T], Stephanie Locke [T] and Christine Assaf [T], I was reminded  how much I love and appreciate my SQL Family.  In-person friends & Twitter connections stepped up with their very welcome two cents.  Some people took the author up on his suggestion & emailed the event organizer.  Only instead of asking these sessions be removed from the schedule, they told him how much they loved his line up! They reinforced that Prof Dev & WIT sessions are very important to the SQL Community.

The friends and colleagues that sent me private messages of support or other solutions were appreciated as well. That being said, I've got this.  But stand by, just in case I don't.