Subscribe to Blog via Email
I receive about 20-30 messages a week from women in the industry. I take my role in the Oracle community as a role model for women in technology quite seriously and I’ve somehow ended up speaking up a number of times, upon request from different groups.
Although its not the first time the topics come up, I was asked last week for some recommendations on Oracle’s CEO, Safra Catz and her opportunity to be on President Elect Trump’s transition team.
After putting my own bias aside and thinking through the why and what, here’s my thoughts-
We also need to discuss what is really bothering many when a woman or person of color enters into the lions den, aka a situation that is clearly not very welcoming to us due to gender, race or orientation. It can bring out feelings of betrayal, concerns that the individual is “working for the enemy.” We want to know that Safra will stand up for our rights as the under-represented. We want to know that she would tell Donald that she doesn’t condone his behavior or actions towards women, race and culture.
One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome when I started my career, was recognizing that every individual has their own path in this world. Their path may be very different than mine, but through change comes growth and to expect someone to do what may not be in their capabilities can be just as limiting as not letting them do what they do best. This wouldn’t be allowing Safra to do what she does best.
I’ve never viewed Safra as a role-model when it comes to the protection and advancement of women’s roles in technology or our world. She’s never historically represented this, any more than those expecting it from Marissa Mayer. It’s just not part of their unique paths, no matter how much the media likes to quote either of them, (especially Marissa, which consistently makes me cringe.) It doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of accomplishing great feats- just not feats in the battle for equality. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t a source of representation. The more women that are in the space, the better. That’s how we overcome some of the bias we face.
Regarding those that do support women in more ways that just representing the overall count of women in technology and politics, I’d rather put my time into Sheryl Sandberg, Grace Hopper, Meg Whitman and others who have the passion to head up equality issues. I both welcome and am thankful for the discussion surrounding writing the letter and applaud the woman who asked me about the topic- it’s a difficult one.
For those of you who are still learning about why equality is so important, here’s a few historical references of great women who’ve advanced our rights. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
Thank you to everyone for the great beginning to 2017 and thank you for continuing to trust me to lead so many of these initiatives. I hope I can continue to educate and help the women in our technical community prosper.
Now if you haven’t already done so, I recommend joining Meetup and checking out the groups that are in your area of interest. I run three groups, (RMOUG Women in Technology, Raspberry Pi and STEM and Girl Geek Dinners of Boulder/Denver) I’m also part of a number of other groups, including the Big Data, Women who Code and Girls Who Develop It Meetup, which this one day class was offered by. At $80, it was a great opportunity to dig into a new language and gain a strong introduction to a computer language, even if you didn’t have any previous experience.
Through the day, we learned how to build out a main page, test code through the console log, incorporate java script into our pages and best practices of beginning Java Script.
I’ve been running the Women in Technology, (WIT) at RMOUG, which I first started planning out in 2011, which has grown to include other user groups and even countries as its grown. The last couple years, I’ve worked to try to add a WIT scholarship to RMOUG’s, but it wasn’t always easy to convince others that we should provide one when you are asking to choose one group over another. There’s only so much money to go around and so many initiatives that we need to address each year for the Oracle community.
For 2015, we had a unique candidate submitted from our continual education scholarship, referred to as the Stan Yellott scholarship, after the wonderful RMOUG board member and much loved mentor who passed away in 2006. The candidate, Natalie Kalin is from Pine Creek High School, out of Colorado Springs, which has students that attend our yearly conference, Training Days, each February. She stood out, as not only had she chosen to major in robotics in College, but she was already in AP Robotics in high school and was then taking this education and providing STEM initiatives to Middle School students in her district.
Due to her technical skills, initiative, stellar transcripts and submission to the scholarship, it was easy for the board of directors at RMOUG to recognize her and award a second scholarship for WIT. I want to share the announcement from her local school district, along with recognize her accomplishment and thank her for making it so easy for me to create the WIT scholarship this year!
Thank you and congratulations, Natalie!
I keep having this conversation over and over, in retail stores, restaurants and other establishments- women coming up to me and asking, “Can you tell me about that watch you have on?”
It made me realize that it could be really intimidating to:
1. Ask questions of the sales staff in most stores.
2. The benefits that I noticed I get from the smartwatch are not always the same for men.
3. Seeing a woman wearing one lets them know that they are something they may want to consider.
So, even though I’m hoping everyone will benefit from this post, I really am hoping to make up for the lack of marketing of smartwatches to women and listing some of the benefits of owning one.
So let’s start with the model that I currently possess-the Moto360
It has a round face and comes in both the black model and the silver with leather band. I have the brushed aluminum with leather band and it’s my second, very successful pairing of a smart watch with an Android smartphone. Mine is available to pair with Apple iPhone, too, so I am happy to say that I recommend it highly for both phone OS options.photo: http://egadget.com
My introduction into the smartwatch world was a Christmas present from Tim last year, (on my request) of the Sony Smartwatch2-
I started out with this paired to my Samsung S4, then migrated it to my Samsung Note3, which I still have at this time. Pairing these watches are as simple as a software download from the playstore, (or IOS AppStore for those with iPhones…) and then using the Bluetooth on your phone to connect to it.
1. The Sony Smartwatch2 used an Android base OS that was compatible with my phone, but unlike the Moto360 that uses the newer AndroidWear OS. This means that instead of finding apps that are compatible with my new watch, everything on my smartphone is automatically available at some level of notifications with AndroidWear and I can choose what to exclude.
2. The Moto360 has a smaller face and it’s round. This means it doesn’t get caught on EVERYTHING when I’m putting a sweater on, taking a coat off or even reaching my hand into my purse, it’s less likely to get hung up.
1. Solid notifications, as our smart phone is rarely on our person, but in our purse. Women’s clothes commonly do not have functional pockets that can hold a smart phone. The pairing of a smartphone and smartwatch is pure genius to simplifying our lives and never missing out on important notifications.
2. Size- Our wrists are often much smaller than men’s and we need something that doesn’t look like a monstrosity on our arm. I have a tiny, tiny wrist, (ring size is 4 1/2, so keep that in mind as you look at the photos) yet the watch doesn’t stand out like it’s ridiculous and the wrist band fits comfortably.
3. The rest of the list:
3. Vibration notifications that we can control.
4. Social Media
5. Remote camera
6. Health Monitoring
What can the watch also do?
Turning your wrist to face you will light the face unless you have the ambient mode set to on, (not be default and it does use more battery life by doing so…)
Swiping the face up and down will access different AndroidWear “cards”, which are active notifications you can view.
Swiping right, you can see different options available to you on the watch.
A quick tap on the screen face will bring up the “Ok Google” with options that are voice activated or you can scroll down to choose one.
If you do purchase one, I would highly recommend a few apps that made my experience much more beneficial:
Connect- Moto360 app to tell you specific data about your Moto360 watch, including battery levels and health monitor profiles.
Wear App Manager- Tells you a bit more about the app and allows you to manage just the Android Wear apps separately.
Wear Mini Launcher- Extra management options for AndroidWear users, including the ability to hide apps, (good for password apps) and global shutoff for notifications.
1Weather- Android app that has a great weather interface and notifies on multiple locations more accurately than some I’ve seen. Very important when you live somewhere like Colorado where the weather changes every 5 minutes… 🙂
Wear Aware- Vibration notification if your watch and phone become separated. It’s also free, where some of the others want $$.
Wear Mail- One mail app to offer advanced email notifications. I like it as it seems to notify faster than my other email clients, so I just exclude those in notifications and use Wear Mail instead.
I know, this is going to be funny, but I love that while charging, it works as a clock. The blue lit display isn’t intrusive, doesn’t disturb me, but if I wake up at night, it’s easy to look over and see the time. I don’t really use an alarm, (I wake up about 15 min. before any alarm, which is very annoying… :)) so my smartphone does the trick and I haven’t owned an alarm clock for years.
Posted in WIT
This post is to clearly discuss an opinion I have on where I think we’re failing our current and next generation on technical education. So I’ll start out with a disclaimer.
1. It’s my opinion and no one else’s. Not my employer, not my genders and not anyone but mine.
2. Its a whole lot easier to write here in a blog post than in a twitter conversation, no matter how much I enjoy chatting with everyone, including Jeff Smith and Bradd Piontek… 🙂
The basis for the discussion was an article that can be found here. Although the article was called, “The Real Reasons There Aren’t More Women in Tech”, the Problem #1 really is something I believe hits America hardest and this is not just impacting women in tech. Women are just more impacted because girls require the opportunities to be offered to them earlier on than boys for those opportunities to be successful.
When I was in high school, I took an elective programming class. My children are barely offered any computer classes unless they offer to attend the alternative school in the area that is recognized for the attendance by teens with behavioral issues. This seems very odd for anyone who is thinking, “What does this mean for the future of technology employees?” There are varied responses on what level of technology is offered by state for technical education in the US, but it’s still quite difficult to understand when you look at these statistics.
For my state’s school system, mandatory computer class entails a middle school requirement that can override the high school class, which involves teaching Microsoft Office and how to format a USB drive. Sorry, that’s Office Technology, it’s not Information Technology. They are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. Once kids reach high school, for computer programming to be a passion for many, is too late to be considered an opportunity for a career!
Now back to my generation- many of us were offered a programming class. IT was the future. Around this time, 1982, (yes, I’m aging myself!) there were just over 600,000 home computers. Information Technology positions were still only a small percentage of the American workforce and workstations were often unheard of in offices, which mostly preferred typewriters or dedicated word processors.
Now back to modern times. You would be hard-pressed to find a home without at least one pc and almost everyone has a tablet and children are walking around with smartphones. STEM careers are projected to increase by 1.4 million jobs by 2020. There are consistent concerns by the US Dept. of Labor that we aren’t prepared to meet these demands with the American Labor force and many are complaining that jobs are being filled by skilled employees overseas.
All this and yet the solution I feel sits right in front of us and we should have started addressing it quite some time ago. We have requirements for English Literature and History, (all very important…) but how many English Lit and History majors are out of work? Why is computer programming introduced so late into our children’s education, (if at all) and is still an elective?
I’m not the only one questioning our idea of what is a “core” education. We need to embrace the idea that our children should be introduced to programming in elementary and by the time they are out of high school, they should be able to fulfill the requirements for an entry level computing programming position in the workforce just as easily as they can fulfill other entry level jobs.
OK, off my soapbox… 🙂
Posted in WIT
This is my last WIT post on the challenges on women in the workplace. The truth of the matter is, its just too difficult to write about what women are facing in the workplace without a large amount of risk. Someone is going to view your posts on what you or someone else has experienced in the workplace as a liability or as disparaging because so often the reader sees the experience through their own eyes and not that of the writer. That’s just the way of the world and I’ve got to do right by my family first, so I’ll continue to announce upcoming WIT events and blog on technical subjects, but nothing more on this topic on dbakevlar. You are welcome to continue to email me with questions and assistance- I’m always here for anyone that needs me.
Thank you to those who were supportive of these efforts and for others, thank you for your patience as I attempted to navigate this challenge.
Posted in WIT
… in any one instance the effects of  stereotypes may be quite small- if you don’t get credit in one meeting, that’s not exactly disastrous, but over time, a little bit here and little bit there, these bias can add up and this can carry men and women into very different directions in their careers.
This statement, made by Shelley Correll, Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, Director of the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, as part of a Lean in web education video, resonated with me as I have recognized this often in my own career and noticed how its impacted women who I once perceived far ahead of me on the career path, only to watch fall behind. I’ve only rarely experienced discrimination, but stereotypes have impacted me so often and so obviously that I’ve found myself at odds with them for years. I’ve watched great women DBAs and Developers placed in management positions after lesser skilled male counterparts were and due to this, I’ve rarely taken on lead positions, preferring and feeling more accepted in purely technical ones. I hadn’t experienced most of the bias until I reached the higher levels of the Oracle industry and have often been surprised by it. I’ve searched for ways to work around them and as I watched me pass many of the women around me, became frustrated that I didn’t seem to have the knowledge on how to help them make their mark, too.
I partly blame myself for choosing a career that isn’t exactly “over-flowing” with my gender to help advise me, but find it promising with technology, the internet and the women that are starting to step up, that there may be hope.
Stereotypes and the bias due to stereotype often limits the women in technology in ways that we never think of. Examples of these setbacks due to bias and stereotypes in my world often appear like the following:
Now as we saw in the first quote- If this happens once, it may not seem disastrous, but the more it happens, the more it begins to add up and impact a woman’s career path.
I’m one that when opportunities aren’t offered to me professionally from one avenue, I tend to deal with them in a very “out of box” manner. When chatting with someone today about this topic, he stated something that I take as a compliment:
“Fencing Kellyn in doesn’t work- she will find a way to get free and do what she does best…”
So what strategies have I used over the years to continue doing what I know is best for my career when its not what my employer/manager/spouse has wanted?
1. Try to identify what I might be doing that is viewed as outside expectations or why my agenda might not be in line with theirs. I try to come up with a compromise that works for both of us, but if I’m still limited by these choices, then…
2. Identify what organizations or prospects that I can take advantage of outside the situation to fulfill my goals and look for opportunities there so that the one limiting me can continue with their path and I can still satisfy my own.
This path has served me well over the years. Its viewed as brilliant and applauded by some, threatening and dangerous by others. The one thing I learned in life is that it’s not about satisfying everyone, it’s about trying to alienate as few as possible and still get done what you need to in your quest to build your a life you can look back on and be proud of.
Why is this important to continue vs. just “doing my job” as a woman in technology?
As a female ACE Director in the ACE program, I am one of 25 women, out of over 450 ACEs. As Gwen Shapira is fond of saying,
we are the 5%.
If anyone thinks those numbers are great, please think about this:
Per the WIT Education Foundation,
In 2008, women received 57% of all undergraduate degrees but represented only 18% of all Computer and Information Sciences undergraduate degrees. There has been a 79% decline, between 2000 and 2008, in the number of incoming undergraduate women interested in majoring in Computer Science. As a result, only 27% of computer scientists today are female.
Per a recent survey by the Harvey Nash Group, a tech staff firm, women made up only 24% of high-tech jobs in 2012, which is down from 25% just two years before and was 26% in 2001. If you start looking at the challenges as they approach the higher positions in companies, women only made up 9% of CIO positions, down from 12% in 2010.
The same article where the survey data can be found also states that women achieving under-graduate degrees in computer science has declined since 1984, which is inline with the continual decline we are experiencing with women in tech careers that have been noted since the mid-90’s.
Now there is hope- the same article shows that another survey’s position is that women are looking to computer science degrees for their future with much more positive numbers. The one difference is that, when linking to the original article for that survey, they noted that they are doing it later in life, often as part of a career change. As women are entering the tech arena often at an older age than their male counterparts, what does this mean for the bias that we have noted in the earlier part of this post?
When opportunities to shatter the glass/silicon ceiling arises, it’s important that we are able to take it. Companies need to support their high-tech female employees that are willing to put themselves out there and contribute. As the original quote states, the one opportunity missed might not seem disastrous, but over time, this can add up and send women on a very different career path than their male counterparts.
I know as part of that 5% that when an opportunity presents itself, I need to not only do it for me, but for my peers, my sisters and especially for my daughter.
Posted in WIT
Posted in WIT
Posted in WIT
As many of you know, the WIT Session at RMOUG and subsequent planning for a WIT program has been very successful. I just received my evaluations, as this was offered just like any technical session. There was a wonderfully, honest comment that I hope the author will not mind me sharing anonymously and I hope my response will help her in return.
“to be honest, if I could [do] it all over again, I wouldn’t be a DBA. I have a degree in CIS, computers were the in thing when I was in college. I chose CIS for the money to support myself & my child. It was something new & exciting. Now it is stressful and being on call isn’t fun. If I could do it over again I would have done something in the medical field like my sister who is a doctor. A lot of my colleagues say the same thing about not doing IT field as well if they had to do it again. Honestly, I believe that is why you aren’t seeing young girls & boys getting into the field because they see what their parents do and how stressed they are, etc. in the IT world.”
I found this comment both sad, honest and interesting. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, who just wrote a fantastic book, “Lean In” discusses women in the workforce, not just IT and one of the things she says is crucial is a solid support system for any woman, especially if she has a family. This includes her family, her company and her manager.
I also have a couple friends in different areas of the medical field, I find that their schedules can be as stressful as the worst IT one, especially nursing. I wondered if her sibling’s job choice in companies vs. the attendees was more the reason behind satisfaction than the career. In my experience and from what I’ve seen, a good company is worth twice the actual career choice.
I admit that I entered the DBA field because of the flexibility it offered me. I first became a DBA when my middle of three children was just an infant. The kid’s father was raised in a household with a stay at home Mom. I think its challenging for a father that lived with a Mom who’s job was to take care of the family, to then have a wife with split responsibilities and higher demands than what he may have experienced his father having. Some men acclimate to the change fine, others do not and my ex-husband did have difficulty with this. With a career in IT, I could take time off from the office and take the kids to doctor appointments or go to parent/teacher conferences. I could work from home if one of the kids were sick that day. The good pay and ability to telecommute for after-hours tasks worked well with my lifestyle and my children were comfortable with Mom being present, with a laptop as her constant companion.
As I mentioned that the kid’s father is my ex-husband, yes, I was a single parent for many of those years. I have a good parenting relationship with my ex, so no doubt that really does help, but he has to admit that I’m the one that goes and gets them from school, the one that stays home when they are sick and the one that addresses all work hour requirements. I would have found it difficult to locate another career such as database administration that offered me this type of flexible schedule, as well as the ability to telecommute full time, which I’ve now done for two of my positions.
In the last year, I’ve begun to travel to present at conferences, where before 2012, I only presented locally. I now am presenting at about 4-6 remote conferences which requires me to travel and my ex-husband and his new wife care for the kids during that time. The kids are now 12, 15 and 18 yrs old, so the care is minimal and they don’t complain too much about having their schedules interrupted for a couple days. Outside of the few days I travel once every two months, I work from home. I’m here every day when my kids get home and I’m able to pick them up from school or take them to appointments. Pretty much whatever they need me for, I’m here. I have two office areas in the home and even if I’m not home, I’m incredibly accessible via cell, email and chat.
Although I understand where the attendee to the session is coming from, I’m going to focus on where I think the real problem lies- I’ve seen IT environments where they work people 12 hrs a day and require them onsite, refuse to comp time, etc. This is a work culture issue and not a database administration career issue. We see it in not just IT jobs, but in so many others as well. IT often derives from poor management and poor work culture.
I would say to this wonderful woman, “Please, do not give up on this career! Search out companies that support their staff’s lives, realizing the difference running a company hard and running a company smart!”
I’ve worked in these environments. Interviewed where it sounded very wonderful and no hint of what was in store, but once you are in the doors, you are thinking, “My God, what have I gotten myself into?” You are torn as your family has demands of your time and you have a boss that doesn’t understand why the family can’t come second, third or “can’t your Mother-n-law just take care of it?” Sigh….
I made a pact with myself a while back.
I don’t know if this will reach the woman from my WIT session, but for any woman in the industry that feels this way, I hope it helps them find their way to succeed. I love my job, my company and my career. I wouldn’t change my path and yes, I’ve experienced many bumps in the road, but to have the persistence to continue on the path that is right for me is the only way to success.
There’s an old Hebrew proverb- “Fall down seven times, get up eight”
The eighth time rocks.