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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.
Last night I attended our RMOUG WIT’s movie night. We partnered with Regis and the choice in movie has received a lot of great reviews, titled, Code- Debugging the Gender Gap. The movie resonated with me profoundly, as I was able to connect with not just the women involved in the interviews, but the girls who reminded me of myself when I was young. There were a number of initiatives that made me proud to be part of the IT industry and opportunities still needing our contribution towards change.
Once the movie was over, we held a short WIT panel session. I was joined by Sharisse Hawkins, Terry Morreale and hosted by Sharri Plantz-Masters from Regis. I had way too much caffeine before being put center stage and regretted it immediately as I spoke way too much during the panel discussion. The women who joined me on this panel had impressive credentials and I was terribly disappointed that I didn’t get to learn more about them during this short session.
The interaction with the audience was fantastic and there were a number of young women who attended that are planning on a career in technology. I was very happy to meet many of them after the panel and impressed at their energy and intelligence.
Next time, though, I bring my time-out muzzle to keep my contributions to a controlled amount… 🙂
Thanks to everyone that attended the event and if you’re interested in future events, stay tuned to RMOUG’s website and the Girl Geek Dinner’s Meetup. We’re about to get planning under way and we’ll be having some great events for everyone to join!