Recapping the Women in Technology Luncheon
As a member of the PASS Women in Technology virtual Chapter I had been on several planning meetings throughout the past year about the luncheon. I had known for some time that they were hoping to secure Kimberly Bryant [ TWITTER | Linkedin ] as our guest speaker.
If you are unaware Kimberly started the organization Black Girls Code [ TWITTER ]. She “hopes to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”
To be perfectly honest with you after hearing that she had confirmed and would be speaking at the luncheon I had decided I didn’t want to go. The encouragement and working with young girls to get them involved in STEM is important don’t get me wrong. But I have started to feel out of place, I don’t have any children, no nieces or nephews, and none of my friends have children. Then there is the age old feeling a lot of us involved in the chapter have been feeling, that feeling of all we do is talk and never take action. Sure I am a big girl and could seek opportunities out on my own and I will take all the hard knocks on being lazy.
A week or so before Summit I was asked if I would like to be a live blogger for the luncheon. I decided that this was a great opportunity as I have never been given this opportunity before. I have to say I was glad I went. Kimberly is a great speaker, does a wonderful job of relating to you and can keep the conversation lively. The stage was set with two large leather chairs where Kimberly and PASS VP of Marketing, Denise McInerney [ TWITTER | BLOG ] sat and chatted. Denise had a list of questions she used to spark the conversation.
I don’t want to bore you by recapping the entire event, you can watch the PASStv recording here. But I will tell you a couple of things that stuck with me and that I had tweeted about.
This image was taken from the Black Girls Code website. They have it set to show selected tweets about them.
The parent challenge was actually a question/comment from the audience. Kalen Delaney [ sqlqueen | BLOG ] got up and told the crowd that it was every parent’s responsibility to teach boys that there is nothing wrong with smart girls. As I looked across the room I saw a lot of nodding. Kimberly talked about the struggles that young women face in college. They are generally one of only a few females in a technical degree program, college is expensive and it is really hard for them to share/relate how things are going for them. I believe she mentioned mentoring programs for college students. I personally love this idea and actually had a lovely conversation on my flight leg from SEA to DEN with Kathi Kellenberger [ TWITTER | BLOG ]. Kathi actually participates in a program at home.
It was also really great to hear Kimberly say something in a sassy manner that I have been complaining about for years. “Do Legos really need to be pink? I don’t think so!” I get so annoyed that everyone thinks that because I am a girl I want everything pink or in pastels. And even more annoying than that is paying more money for girl versions of things just because I don’t want to smell like a boy.
For my final thought something Kimberly talked about really struck home. She mentioned unconscious bias, and that we needed to work on ourselves to not display/use/rely on it. I thought it was interesting that there was a name for something I had been thinking about lately. With all the things on the news lately that are racially charged and with all the hate we see towards people who are not like us I wondered where and how you draw the line on stereo types and personal experiences. All interesting IMO.