#SQLPASS #Summit13 Women in Technology Lunch – Live!

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Welcome to the second day of #SQLPASS #Summit13! I’ve been having a blast this week – presenting a precon with Brent and Kendra, watching great speakers like Erin Stellato and Bob Ward, chatting at the Community Zone, and walking the vendor booths.

Today is one of my favorite events – the annual Women In Technology Luncheon! Our topic is Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity. We have a great panel – Erin Stellato, Rob Farley, Cindy Gross, Kevin Kline, and Gail Shaw. This is an incredibly diverse and brilliant group! 

12:10 pm – Tom LaRock is kicking off the event! He introduces our moderator, Mickey Stuewe. She reminds us to ask questions and follow along on Twitter using the #passwit hashtag. 

12:12 – Today we’re talking about diversity – making sure everyone is included. Mickey introduces the panelists! Cindy Gross is an MCM and member of AzureCAT. Rob Farley is a business owner and MCM and MVP, and outgoing PASS board member. Kevin Kline, pass president of PASS, MVP, and author – and father of several daughters! Erin Stellato is an MVP and brilliant consultant. Gail Shaw is an MCM and MVP, and contributes to the community in many ways. 

12:14 – Our first question is about fitting in. Gail tells us she doesn’t always fit in – not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a geek. She spends her weekends playing D&D! (I played many years ago. I loved it. I want to do it again!) 

12:15 – Have you experienced subtle cultural differences that make it hard to fit in? Rob says he does see people who exclude others because they are different. But that’s not him. In any environment where there is a large number of the same people, it can happen that there are assumptions. Let’s not forget about religious differences as a form of diversity and exclusion as well – important to remember at a large, international event like this too! Remember to tell people how you value them. 

12:19 – Cindy, how can you tell when you’re being treated differently, and why? She’ll go to a coworker or friend and ask for advice. She has a group of people she can go to for a second opinion. “When I react to something, would I react that way if it came from someone else?” is what she often asks. 

Kevin: There’s a lot of interesting scientific research going on right now. The average person can know about 150 people really well. Beyond that, stereotypes can save time. “They’re like the index pages in a database” gets a good laugh. He talks about the difference between introverts and extroverts. Introverts will internalize and be introspective about comments made towards them. Follow Cindy’s advice – talk to others about a situation or comment that was made and get their advice about it. 

12:26 – Kevin, how do you explain that you think you’ve been treated differently to your boss? Database professionals will spend a lot of time debugging code and resolving problems, but we don’t spend enough time figuring out the people we work with. Why do they get up in the morning? What drives them? Talk to your boss. If you ask them if you made a molehill into a mountain, and he or she says yes, you did – think of it in one of two ways. They could have a very different set of values from you. Or, we may not have properly expressed how this behavior affects our values. You need to have your own “values statement” – and share that with your boss, and even coworkers. (What I hear is: we need to realize that although our job is technology, we work with PEOPLE. You have to be willing to understand and talk to PEOPLE.) 

12:33 – Rob, how do you deal with being on a team when you’re excluded? If you see someone being excluded, you have to speak up. If you see a situation that is wrong and you don’t say something about it, it doesn’t help. You’ll be wracked by guilt. Stand up and be the person who champions what is right. 

Gail says that if the person you call friends are the ones that say you need to change, you might need to redefine who your friends are. She recently had to “break up” with a friend because she wanted Gail to be something she wasn’t. She wasn’t accepting. Sometimes it’s best to burn those bridges. Find friends that are interested in who YOU are and who listen to your concerns. 

12:40 – Cindy says there is so much more than just gender that we need to take into consideration. It could be so many things – your personality, what you support politically or socially. We all have our own stereotypes, too. 

Gail says that she has many male, geek friends. They feel excluded because they would rather stay in and play a card game instead of going to a football game. It’s not just women who feel this. 

12:45 – Erin, how do you establish and build relationships with coworkers in a diverse setting? You have to look at how you build any relationship – you build a common ground. You share interests and beliefs. Find common ground with your coworkers – we can all find something. You have to grow and celebrate that. Use the common ground to make your team better. “You can lead without being the leader.” Reach out to every member of your team – even if a “boss” isn’t doing so. Any good relationship takes time – and that’s OK, you just need to accept that. Find people’s strengths and celebrate the diversity. 

Kevin: Even if you don’t have an opinion on a topic, say that. Don’t say nothing. People take silence as you don’t care, or you agree with what is going on. Introverts will often be quiet, and let extroverts run the show – even when it’s, “Where do we go for lunch?” 

12:50 – What techniques have you seen to make events more inclusive in a professional setting? Kevin says when PASS was being founded, they didn’t have the resources other groups did – like money. They had to be better at people. “The antidote to swagger is humility.” 

12:55 – Best part of the day! Questions from the audience! 

Question from online – how do we celebrate conclusions vs. milestones? Rob says we need to recognize that different people celebrate different things. Even here this week, some people come to Summit to see friends. Some come to work on their career. Some come for specific sessions. We are all different. Recognize that we all need to celebrate – support others in the way they choose to do so. 

“How do we foster compassion in the workplace? There’s a feeling that compassion is the antithesis of a successful team.” Kevin – there’s a ton of research in how to make teams work faster, but what about “how do we make this team higher quality?” Someone has to start by demonstrating it – one person. You have to get the people with influence and authority to model those behaviors. Erin reminds us, “You can lead even if you aren’t the leader.” And if it bothers you that much, sometimes, you may be at the wrong company. If you can’t affect change, you may need to leave. 

“What is the best way to disarm someone who is applying a stereotype to you?” Gail says, there is something in common between you. Be polite. Find that something in common and work from there. You’ll never get someone to stop applying a stereotype by bashing your head against it. Cindy adds that if you try to take it head-on and convince that person that YOU aren’t that stereotype, you’re not solving that problem. The stereotype will still be in that person’s head. Rob says, on the inside, have pity for them. They are missing out on who you actually are. Care for them. Try to get to know them for who they are. 

“I was walking around the expo yesterday and had a conversation. You’re a woman, in technology, you’re a foreigner, you’re an athlete – how are you going to succeed in this industry? How would have you answered?” Erin says, “I would have said, “How am I NOT going to succeed?”” Gail would have said, “Who are you to tell me I’m not going to succeed?” Cindy had a professor call her into his office right before graduation. He commented on her hair color and told her she wouldn’t succeed in the real world. Now look at her! What other people think is irrelevant. 

1:12 – We could talk about this all day, but what is our call to action? 

Gail – take a look in the mirror and make sure you’re not the one doing it. Don’t be the problem. 

Rob – love people back regardless of how they are treating you. Don’t be part of the stereotype. 

Wow, this was inspiring! Thank you to our panelists for being on stage and sharing your experiences. Thank you to those who stepped up and asked questions. Thank you to the audience, both in person and online. I look forward to next year’s event! 

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