Category: WIT

January 13th, 2017 by dbakevlar

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.

I wanted to ask your opinion about Safra not taking a leave of absence to help with Trump’s transition team? I think she should take a leave and as one of the top women in IT I think it shows poor judgment. Could the WITs write her a letter? Thoughts?

After some deep thought, I decided the topic required a good, solid answer and a broader audience.  As with anything involving the topic of WIT, the name of the source who asked the question doesn’t matter and anyone who asks you to give names isn’t really interested in education, but persecution.

It took me some time to think through the complexities of the situation.  Everyone will have some natural biases when a topic bridges so many uncomfortable areas of discussion:

  • Women’s Roles
  • Politics
  • Previous Employer

After putting my own bias aside and thinking through the why and what, here’s my thoughts-

No, I don’t think Safra should take a leave of absence. We have significantly few women in c-level positions.  As of April 2016, only 4% of CEO’s for Fortune 500 companies were women, (which Safra is one.)  I have a difficult time believing we’d be asking most men to give up the opportunity to be on a presidential transition team or take a leave of absence.  Some of the most challenging and difficult times in our career are also the most rewarding and this may be one of those times in Safra’s life.  Anyone who’s friends with me, especially on Facebook, would know, I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, but in no way should we ask Safra to not try to be part of the solution.

No, I don’t think Safra should refrain from being on the transition team.  As much as we discuss the challenges of getting more women in technology, its even a larger challenge in politics.  Women have less than 25% of the seats in Congress and even less at local government levels.  We are over 50% of the workforce and 50% of the US population.  How can we ever have our voices heard if we aren’t participating in our own government?  Having more representation is important, not less and not because my politics don’t mesh with hers.

So what should the discussion really be about if we don’t want Safra to take a leave of absence or remove herself from the transition team?

  1. We want to know that there are clear policies in place to deter from conflict of interest.  We need to know that if improprieties do occur, that accountability will result.
  2. We need to not limit Safra in opportunities or over-scrutinize her the way we do so many women who don’t fit inside the nice, neat little expectations society still has of them.
  3. We shouldn’t hold Safra accountable for what Donald Trump represents, his actions or if we don’t agree with his politics.

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.


Posted in Oracle, WIT Tagged with: , ,

March 28th, 2016 by dbakevlar

Even though I didn’t have the “official” prerequisite classes of HTML and CSS for the JavaScript class offered by sister Meetup group, Girls Develop it, I decided on Friday that I wanted to take the weekend class and signed up.

The class is held at the Turing Development school and it was a great downtown location.  Very centralized, no matter if you’re North, South, East or West of the city and the venue is a school, so it’s set up with plenty of power, WiFi and projector with multiple screens.  It had started another spring time snow, so I was one of the first ones in the class that morning, but we quickly got situated-  about 25 female students all there to learn JavaScript!  I don’t think I’ve seen that many women in one technical class in my life and no matter how much I love hanging out with the guys that I do in the Oracle realm, this was a refreshing change.  The room was filled with women of all ages, all walks of life and no, I was not the only woman in the room with brightly colored streaks in her hair, tattoos or multiple piercings.


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.

Now there are two things I will share with you that I feel are great tips from this class that are available to everyone.  It’s two sites for opportunities to continue with your web design/JavaScript education and they are:

  1.  CodePen–  This site demonstrates different examples of webcode, broken down between HTML, CSS and JavaScript, (any combination of 1,2 or all 3…) and you can make changes to the code to see how it impacts the outcome of the graphics and framework.  It really puts how these three interact to build out impressive web designs and where you would use one over another.
  2. Exercism–  This site gives you real world coding problems, allows you to code a solution, submit the solution for valuable feedback.  It’s important to use what you learn every day to improve upon it.  This site gives that opportunity to you.


Posted in DBA Life, Oracle, WIT Tagged with: ,

February 27th, 2015 by dbakevlar

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!


Posted in DBA Life, WIT

November 24th, 2014 by dbakevlar

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.

moto-360-hands-on-630  photo:

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.

Differences that Caused Me to Upgrade

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.

Top Features of a Smartwatch

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:

  • Include the ability to change the face of the watch to something less masculine if we want! 🙂  There are a TON of watch faces out there, but I chose to use my own background with the standard offering.

2014-11-24 16.42.32

3.  Vibration notifications that we can control.

  • The ability to exclude applications and silence any notifications that don’t provide value.
  • The ability to answer, (at least via bluetooth headset) or send calls to voicemail after noting the callerID info.
  • Ability to quickly reply to text messages with pre-recorded list of responses vs. getting our phone out of our purse.

4.  Social Media

  • Ability to like Facebook posts.
  • Option to favorite or native retweet Twitter posts.
  • Simple options to interact with other social media platforms.

2014-11-24 16.43.44

5.  Remote camera

  • Our hands are commonly smaller, making it difficult to click the shutter button on the camera screen when taking selfies and other pictures.  Having the option to do this on our watch is helpful.

6.  Health Monitoring

  • Any of those cool fitbit features you’ve been eyeing?  Yeah, there is a version out for the Androidwear and you can just download it.  The censors are already on the Moto360 to perform these functions.
  • Check your pulse
  • Create goals for yourself and check status during day on your progress.

2014-11-24 16.48.232014-11-24 16.48.12

What can the watch also do?

  • Let you know when an item has been shipped, (very helpful right now with Christmas shopping upon us!)

2014-11-24 16.42.58

  • Check the weather before the kids head out to ensure both you and they bundle up or otherwise by a few swipes on your wrist-

2014-11-24 16.42.44

The Watch is Easy To Interact With

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.

  • Send a text
  • Send an email
  • Set a reminder
  • Play music
  • Set an alarm
  • Show your current status for activity goals.

Application Enhancements

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.

Silliest Feature I Love

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

January 4th, 2014 by dbakevlar

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.

  • 41 states schools do not require any computer classes for graduation.
  • 90% of schools do not offer computer classes

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

September 9th, 2013 by dbakevlar

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

September 5th, 2013 by dbakevlar

… 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:

  • First time project opportunities that the woman is skilled in is offered to a male peer who isn’t as skilled, (“Kellyn, could you send over your documentation on <insert technology here> for <male peer>?  He’s going to be heading up a project to lead us into this technical sector and we know you’ve documented your experience with the technology.”)
  • Presentations/articles/webinars offered to the female tech is then requested by management to be performed by a male peer instead, as he is deemed a more acceptable representative of the company.
  • Male peers time-off requests are accepted, where the female employee is often requested to justify or explain the reason for the time off.
  • Leadership opportunities the female tech may already be fulfilling is offered to a male peer even though they may be evenly qualified and both interested.
  • Credit for ideas, leads, sources, employment referrals is given to male peers vs. the women that recommended them from her network.
  • The female tech is cut-off or has her access limited to professional contacts once she has introduced them to the company.

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

August 30th, 2013 by dbakevlar
Many of you know that I’m the mother of three, very bright, “equally ADHD as their mother” children.  As I’ve been tasked with a number of interesting challenges with both RMOUG’s and ODTUG’s WIT, (Women in Technology) events, I’ve started to investigate how, no matter what we do for women today, unless we start focusing on the women of tomorrow, we are lost.
I spent some time the last couple weeks investigating the offerings by my local school districts for technical education and am alarmed for both genders.  There are “Technology Plan Templates” that detail out the dismal specifications of what hardware will be provided in the classroom, but no mention of what to attain with it.  No one lists out what educational goals, what students hoped to achieve with the said technical hardware.
Now what were these marvel in educational opportunities offered in the way of software?
  • Windows XP.
  • Tutorials on how to use a USB flash drive.
  • How to “Navigate the network”
The labs were beginning classes in Microsoft Office and how to use email.  What kid, by the time they are in mid-elementary, lack knowledge in9 basic tasks in MS Office??
I looked on the clubs link, as I remember computer and programming were often found in clubs, along with classes, in my high school.  This was what is now offered:
I assumed the technical classes had to be missing from the website, (I know, seemed like an oxy-moron to me, too, but I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt…. :))  so I called the school.  I was politely informed that all classes for any student that are interested in technical educatiin are offered at Bollman Technical Education Center.
I remember this school, as it was what was recommended to my oldest when he was having challenges that were administration in nature, but had been classified by the school as “behavioral”.  If this doesn’t concern you right off, we’ll discuss it here in a minute, but first I wanted to make sure that there hadn’t been a “revamp” of the school.
No, Bollman is still considered a school that “benefits the student who is more productive when doing than learning in a more traditional academic setting.”
I was less than star-struckwhen I looked at their technical career programs:
Auto technology?  Do we really even have to discuss this one?
I was more pleased by the clubs, but the ones that are heading it up are often the same teachers that are failing the students in their primary schools!  I noted the names of three teachers that aren’t even technical in the three clubs that are mentioned in the image below!
One of the teachers listed as one of the sponsors teaches at my children’s high school and we’ve discussed her “ongoing challenges grasping today’s technology”.  Having some of these folks heading up tech clubs seems no better than the BBC show, “The IT Crowd” character, non-technical Jen Barber’s hilarious attempt at heading up IT, which is one of the consistent comedic story lines of the show.  This is what we have directing tomorrow’s technical minds?
Now we’re going to get into the down and dirty.  This school is an “alternative” school.  This is the school that they send the students that are not succeeding in standard, public schools.  What does this say about the future of technology in general?  What does this say for the number of folks in the industry that have a story similar to mine that started out in a VERY different field than the one they are highly successful in because they were unaware that the opportunity was even out there for them?
So, here’s where I’m at-  if the schools are going to continue to fail both genders in the technical arena, maybe this is a better alternative.


Posted in WIT

August 30th, 2013 by dbakevlar
A male peer of mine approached me just after Collaborate and discussed this incredible woman in the Oracle community that he was trying to promote and inspire.  I had met her at a couple sessions and agreed-  I was impressed with her knowledge, energy and intelligence as well and he asked if I would assist in promoting her-  I was thrilled and agreed.  I promptly contacted her via Linked in and I sent her an invite.  She just accepted my Linked in request this month and it really had me thinking-  It wasn’t like she hadn’t been on Linked in, she just didn’t put this as something very high on her priority list.   This isn’t the first time this has happened, either.  I’ve been approached and/or asked to mentor or assist someone in the Oracle community and I’ve had a couple not respond or wait a very long time to network.  The thing is, the only time this has happened, it’s consistently been women who it happened with and I find it very worrisome.
Why, (as known as we are for our communication skills)  do we so often hesitate or pass up professional opportunities and networking?
Where a man will consistently accept an opportunity that would promote their career, I’m seeing way too many women refusing, often siting family or personal reasons.  I’m saddened by how little success I see when offering the same opportunities to women that I’ve noted were offered to men.  Most of these opportunities were to do more with the Oracle community and would have promoted them technically and socially in their career along  with networking them more effectively with their technical peers, yet they so often walk away.
Much of it appears to source from a lack of childhood risk taking and discounting one’s qualifications to contribute to the arena.   I’ve found it fascinating over the last couple years to watch male peers, even when the opportunity may have been WAY over their head, they still took a risk and jumped at the chance, where most women hesitated, took a step back  to assess the situation.  In many situations, this is a very positive trait, but when it comes to limited-time opportunities that are offered directly to that person, a woman needs to grasp onto it with both hands and hang on tight- the offer may not be extended again.  The hesitation often resulted as the women verified that they were 100% qualified to perform the task before they’d even consider it, where I’d have guys chomping at the bit with only about 10% of the qualifications.  It pains me, to see these women filled with self-doubt, torn between demands, self-imposed limits and many times feeling they have no right to feel ambition.   I watch it roll around like a storm under their calm surface and wonder why many in society continue to raise women to feel this way.
We aren’t turning down the primary work responsibilities or anything like that.  Women work hard at their jobs, but not so often at their careers.  The little things that add up to take someone from being an employee to being a brand appear to elude most of us.  When noting that women aren’t taking on those career promoting opportunities, I’ve often been told, “Oh, that just doesn’t interest me…” or “I couldn’t possible do that, my family needs me…” or “I’m sure John/David/etc. would be a better choice…”  Due to these types of responses, we repeatedly have women in the technical arena passing up opportunities to manage,  present/write technical articles/books, professionally network and LEAD in the Oracle community.  The glass ceiling isn’t the issue; it’s the silicon ceiling that I’m referring to here.
What is the silicon ceiling?  If you are an Oracle DBA, Developer or Architect, you are working in the technical world.  To participate in the upper echelons of this community, we as professionals need to start valuing our own contributions to this arena.
To be a top contender in the Oracle Community, you need to keep in mind:
  • Someone who is coding on the weekend in some game or technical challenge does not have more to offer than you technically.
  • Presenting is one of the best ways to learn to contribute more effectively in meetings and projects.  You find your voice and learn how to think on your feet.
  • If you are worried about the “glass ceiling”, presenting, blogging and writing articles in a great way to eliminate it.  If you are out there, you are no longer touchable by any ceiling, glass or silicon.
  • Taking risks demands we bluff a bit to show that we are more confident than we may really feel.  This will win us new opportunities, which in turn grants us self-reliance and personal power.  More women need to learn how to bluff a bit more.  Healthy bluffing is a good communication skill to have in most male oriented workplaces.
  • Your career is as important as your contributions to your home, you family and your salary.  There is nothing wrong with reaching out and doing more with your career.  Not only will it benefit your own job satisfaction, but also lead to you setting a more impressive example for your children and the young women around you.
  • By having our husbands be more productive partners in the home, children and family both benefit.  Men are the ones who most often teach children risk taking and by boys and girls seeing men take active roles as care givers and share in household chores, eliminates more stereotype issues in the next generation.
I see too many women saying, “Sorry, not this time…” or “Maybe when I have more experience…”  I applaud their dedication to how much is sacrificed for their families and home.  I also know that as we sacrifice ourselves, the world pays the most and husbands are quick to agree with me.   I haven’t found a husband in my generation who has not wanted to see their wife/partner achieve more.  So many are incredibly impressed by all these women contribute to everything in their lives, but are also incredibly aware of how much they should be doing for their own careers and/or dreams.
So what needs to change for women to do more for their careers?  What needs to change so women stop putting their careers second to their families and their husband’s careers?  What needs to change to make women want to step up and WANT to do more?
I so want to see the silicon ceiling disintegrate….

Posted in WIT

March 22nd, 2013 by dbakevlar

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.

  • Only work for good bosses and for good companies.
  • Work for companies that support you in your own goals and family life, not just for their priorities.  It’s should be a win-win with small compromises that pay forward.
  • Companies that support their employees have more loyal employees and are more likely to succeed.  The employees work for the company because they want to, not because they have to.
  • Realize your worth and work hard for what you want.
  • Don’t listen to those that tell you that you can’t accomplish something or that something will never happen.
  • Surround yourself with positive people and find mentors
  • Yes, there is often oncall/after-hours work with a DBA career.  This is why I recommend any DBA’s first goal is to silence the pager and remove all “white noise”.
  • Any manager/department that is a proponent of ridiculous tasks allocated to after hours work, extended hours where a resource is exhausted and not able to function well and/or “white noise” paging-  START LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB.

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.



Posted in DBA Life, WIT

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