This is a continuation and expansion of thoughts I published previously… inspired by the fact I continually get messages from friends venting at the blatant sexism they are experiencing in the workplace…
I consider myself very lucky, and I’ve spoken about this before, but one of my greatest mentors is Christina Rouse. I met her in 2005 when I was about 8 years in to my career, and she taught me more than I would have ever imagined, and not just about Business Intelligence. She taught me about dealing with people, forming a concise argument and not just arguing from a point of passion or “knowing you are right”. She encouraged me to being public speaking, and encouraged me to start writing about BI and Analytics.
Looking back I had no reservation about taking the opportunity learn and grow from her because I recognized the one thing that was most important about her; She is brilliant. I never discounted her because of her gender… I honestly never gave it a second thought. The frustrating part in all of this was that I was blind to the fact that so many men in tech, and in general, have a bias against women and discount their aptitude before they know anything about the person sitting across the desk.
Fast forward to early 2016 when I really started to dive in to the world of Tableau and the first person I gravitated towards was Pooja Gandhi. I reached out to her with questions that she freely answered and was happy to share her knowledge and techniques. I later realized that she was one of the many who answered questions I have on the Tableau Community Forums, and again… I didn’t care the gender, true knowledge is gender neutral and I know that.
In the summer of 2017 I was working on an Iron Viz feeder entry and asked for feedback and had 3 women step up to help and advise me, and it was awesome. They gave me such great pointers and ideas for improvements… thing I would not have considered on my own.
So what drives men to discount women in the working world? My assumption would be decades of “a woman’s place is the home” garbage that has been feed to us through news, media, and “research” that tries to continually hold women back.
Is it Fear?
A need for a feeling of power?
Get over it. Now.
I don’t like to think about where I’d be without the influence of Christina and Pooja and many others, because I don’t think I’d be where I am today, and have the confidence that they have helped instill in me and my skills.
There should be no fear in making progress, and it is irrelevant how we make that progress and who the progress is credited to as long as we get there. A sense of power is a fallacy. Equality it much more powerful and far more things can be accomplished though equal footing instead of command and conquer style “collaboration” which isn’t collaboration, it bullying.
So men, stop for a moment… do the right thing and start looking at women in your fields as equal, take the opportunity to learn from them.
How else can you help? Here are a few idea…
Start ’em young!
Donate your time to girls programs that are encouraging STEM programs. I’ve volunteered with Girls + Data to teach middle school girls data basic and analytics. Contact your local Girl Scout troop and offer to help them earn their STEM badges. Finally, search through the National Girls Collaborative Project and find opportunities to help encourage girls to enter STEM fields.
Some of the most important people in our careers are our mentors, and you can make a huge difference in donating your time and talents to mentor the next generation of STEM workers. If there are formal mentoring programs set up at work, get involved. If there are informal opportunities to act as a mentor, do it!
We are all aware of the discrimination, harassment and other detrimental behavior that women suffer at the hands of men in the workplace and in life in general. If you see if happening, step in say something and help put and end to it ASAP. It’s these types of incidents that drive women out of STEM careers, and we can’t let that happen.
Also, don’t hesitate to call shout out women and recognize them as mentors! Think about how you feel when someone recognizes you for helping them grow, so why keep that feeling to yourself?
The advancements we will make in STEM fields needs all of us collaborating and moving the needle forward, and we will get there when everyone is at the table with a voice and everyone supporting each other in out endeavors.
So, I challenge the men reading this… What are you going to do?
Status Quo or Agent for Change?