Thursday, June 30, 2011

Women and technology jobs

It's a perfect fit. I'm not being sarcastic.

I don't know what careers/jobs/projects in any sector exist that are not touched by technology unless I count Roller Derby Queen or Ice Cream Taster... both of which I hope to do one day...

Women are huge consumers of technology - buying, using, developing and championing. We are some of the drivers behind the growth of social media. (Nevermind that LinkedIn doesn't think so)

While many folks still look at IT as being about math and engineering skills, it's much much more than. It's understanding your audience/customer. It's the tools that employees need to do their jobs. It's the way we exchange knowledge, money, goods and a key arena in which we deepen relationships.

Not all technology jobs are for technologists; why aren't more women applying?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hidden rules - continued

Great emails, intriguing comments, even a few phone calls.

Terry Doner noted that: "I was recently reading about a noted gender difference, specifically that females tend to value 'relationship' more than men. If you accept that as a frequently truth, then rather than just being a 'hidden rule', it could also be that women care more about those details and so are likely to pursue them."

This may be so. Which makes it potentially a strength and worth discussing. I believe men and women value relationships but maybe it's fair to say that men value more the results/outcomes of having them while women value more the development of them? We need both approaches.

Gary Zavitz wrote " might depend on organization size, particular work culture and prevailing attitudes. Key issue is qualifying the term, 'workplace': SMB? Mid-sized? Large corporate? Public or Private Sector? Profit/Non-Profit?..."

Yes, variables always influence things. Dress codes in non-profit might allow for more self-expression. Larger companies sometimes have hidden pockets of better/worse examples. etc. But hidden rules are across all industries regardless. That's not a bad thing; hopefully in some areas/industries there is better conversation around the issues too!

One reader pointed out that her hidden rule was around women apologizing for or qualifying prior to actually coming out with their idea. I worked for a woman once who had us all put a dollar on the table every time we did that. We had enough to take the team for drinks in 4 meetings (not-for-profit).

Do men also get pushback on self-expression? Perhaps they don't seem to mind it; they ignore it or choose to work within it?
An anonymous comment speculated that "...complain, complain, complain. What people without real talent do. Get the right skill set and compete, instead of complaining about being held back by men- wasted energy"

Which of course is the point. Have the conversation. Make the corrections/add the skill/face the challenge. Make it your choice vs. the unspoken expectation. Together, we can help others understand the expectations.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HIdden rules

A recent discussion around "hidden rules" for women claimed there were none; that any lurking in the background were the 'culture' of the specific company/workplace and not about gender.

I was floored. I think there are many unspoken expectations of women in the workplace. I also believe most are more habit than done out of spite but we still need to point them out. Perhaps we may even choose to keep some of them - but that's choice vs. silent pressure.

So what rules do you still see in your workplace?

My list (to grow with your input) that women will:
  • Take the notes/minutes of the meeting
  • Dress gender neutral
  • Sit on the social committee
  • Provide the cake/goodies for celebrations
  • Not raise her voice too loudly
  • Have an extra pen /tylenol / tissue
  • Not call attention to herself (wild hair style, big jewelery, unpopular opinion, loud laugh, etc.)
 Anything to add?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't take your eye off the pot...

So there I went... happily assuming that my timed posts would publish last week as planned. I had pre-populated the blog so as to focus on another project.

Imagine my surprise this week when I saw that none of them had posted.

Delegating is key to survival these days. The amount of tasks in a given day/week/month is very large and we need to call on our communities to get everything done. From my kid doing my laundry in exchange for me remembering to buy groceries, to my team keeping projects going when I'm called away on something unexpected, team work is everything.

However, you can't just set a pot on the stove and walk away. Aside from the fire hazard (lol), you do need to poke your head back in the kitchen throughout the process. And remember to turn off the stove at the end.

Losing a week's posts reminded me that no one and nothing is infallible; it's always worth keeping an eye on things.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Nice" doesn't mean "soft"

My kid asked me the other day why folks sometimes try to push me around. (sigh... it happens to the best of us...) It was a great discussion that lasted all the way to the fish & chip place and back.

The words "nice", "kind" and "thoughtful" get applied to me. Don't get me wrong; I'm proud to be described as such! I think being liked - or at least tolerated :-) - is a great way to have better relationships. But having those qualities doesn't mean that I will want you to like me any any cost - including when things need to be done.

I believe we should treat folks equally; say "please" and "thanks"; encourage people to feel valued through their input and actions; and offer a gentle approach whenever possible. We should be sincere in being kind and considerate in discussion.

But if you then turn around and tell me to get stuffed (nicely or otherwise), or become an impediment to a project, I can firmly (and yet still nicely) push back. If you get rude or pose a risk to the community's decision, then I reserve the right to bypass you.

I think the cliche that if one is kind to folks, one is a pushover is finally becoming dated. You can lead with humour and grace and still get things done. A kinder, gentler world can still be an efficient world!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finding a mentor - part 2

Always select a mentor based on how you define success; they should embody one or more of those criteria.

The issue can be that many of us don't define success for ourselves beyond a title, rank or span of control. (If that's all it took, success would be easy!) Defining success is also part of knowing what we value.

If we don't define success for ourselves, how do we know when we achieve it? I'm not talking about the years-from-now vision...but today, this month and this year.

Today's success for me was going to be about better time management (an ongoing battle). This month, success will encompass strong people management. 

Currently, I have one of my mentors coaching me on people management because she's very very good at it; I consider her to be a successful people manager - and she prizes that skill. That's one of the reasons I picked her. I believe my success this year will be to add "great people manager" to my reputation. We share a definition of success in this area and thus she becomes a potential mentor - our values align here.

We hear about folks because of their status, reputation and past accomplishments. We get to understand them through their values. We should pick mentors who reflect our success criteria - which is a reflect of our values.