Understanding the Plight of Women in Business

Disclaimer: This post is based solely on my experiences in the industry over the past decade and a half.  As true with everything else, your mileage may vary.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with understanding why there’s a need for the women in tech movement.  I’ve been working in a male-dominated industry and have done everything I could to not play the gender card.  Yes, I’m a woman, but that doesn’t make me any less of a geek.  If anything, my not liking Star Trek and not reading a lot of sci-fi may make me surrender my geek card.  But my degree, my quick ability to pick up tech, and my ability to explain tech in simple terms have helped me to show that I truly belong in tech.  And gender – to me – seemed like a non-issue.

But as I’ve gotten older (and not so naive), I’ve started understanding the need for the women in tech movement a bit more.  Some of my past musings include:

I don’t agree with the approach of excluding guys, as the real world just isn’t one gender or another.  However, I do agree to the approach of including guys and helping them understand what we’ve dealt with and how they can help us (and help the industry) to reduce some of the roadblocks we’ve met in the past.

Recently, as a business owner and chamber of commerce member, I’ve had the experience of running into businesses who still can’t fathom that there are women in tech, let alone independent female tech consultants.  I got a call from a fellow chamber member, wanting to speak to the owner of Cleveland Tech Consulting.  Yes, that’s my company name – I went with a Cleveland Tech name to go hand in hand with Cleveland Tech Events.  Anyhow, the guy on the phone seemed shocked that the owner of this tech consulting company was female.  Sorry, buddy, but as soon as I hear that shock and disappointment, I’m not giving you my business.  And that initial thought started to light the lightbulb of why there’s a women in tech movement.  We need to educate people that the stereotypes are outdated, even if we are still a minority.

I also had my first run-in with a young developer who didn’t believe in female developers.  It’s sad to see brogrammers like him out there, but at the same time, it was great to see the look of shock when I rattled off my credentials – including Microsoft MVP (so legitimately 1 in a small number throughout the world), technical book author, technical book editor, and past experience.  That initial cockiness and arrogance eventually changed when I stepped up and pulled out my list in my “Oh no, you didn’t just go there. Let me whip out my ego.” fashion.

With these recent experiences, I really had to wonder – what are other local women in business experiencing?  Are they finding this to be bad as well?  These are questions I will continue to explore.

Today, I attended my first Working Women Connection meeting, and I was the only IT training/developer lady out there.  The rest of the women had all sorts of backgrounds – from accounting to products to insurance to finance.  They have backgrounds across the board.  Talking with them, it’s interesting to learn about their stories.  It was also great to feel that they were empowering each other to be successful just by learning about each other and promoting each other’s businesses.  I’m going to attend future meetings for sure, as the networking alone was great.  However, I also look forward to hearing others’ journeys in business to see if the gender card really comes up this much elsewhere.

Over the next few months, you’ll see more posts from me about women in business, especially women in tech, as I explore the women in tech movement and how I can get through understanding why they exclude men and how we can get them on board on educating and including men rather than excluding them.

 

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