Friday, June 29, 2012

Home from Santa Clara and Lucky Seven

Monday was our seventh wedding anniversary. I had a conference this week, so we celebrated on Saturday, spending the whole day doing chores and small things together, then taking the motorcycle up to Healdsburg for dinner at the aptly name Baci restaurant. Sometimes seven years seems like a long time, but given that I've already had more than seven sets of seven in my life, I know that time flashes by in the blink of an eye. It's funny, recalling the moment when M and I looked at each other and realized that we'd been going steady for six months and we both remarked that six months was a long time...


On Sunday I left for Santa Clara, and our the last show of the year in that strange urban wasteland. Good: I had some South Indian food. I went to the gym a couple of times.

Not as good: I also spent more time "on the show floor" as we call it, i.e., holding down a Ladies Lounge in the exhibit hall, than I ever have before. Frankly, it was exhausting. Partly because I just had to talk with so many people all day for two days straight and partly because I finally got to hear firsthand a little more about how women are perceived in some corners of the tech industry. I had a conversation with a guy who said that he just didn't think women were interested in tech stuff. I had a conversation with a woman who felt that companies should recognize that women had more of a burden of work-life balance and so women (and only women) should be treated differently. I heard about a woman who makes purchasing decisions being ignored by some of our sponsors and who turned instead to the man she was with. I had to remain silent while provocatively dressed women who were hired by our sponsors to entice attendees to buy stuff were both ogled and excoriated by our attendees; these attendees also claimed that they could no longer believe that a pretty woman could be technically competent because of this practice. I heard a lot of snickering as people (men) walked by my booth area and read the "Ladies Lounge" signage. I had to answer the question posed by several women: "What's the purpose of this lounge?" (To create a welcoming space at an event where women might not feel so welcome.) It was also a place that some people (men) pretended to be shy about coming into, not realizing it was a metaphor for how difficult it can be for some women to enter a male-dominated workplace and others (men) who were completely clueless and just barged in as if they owned the place. It was a worthwhile experience, but I confess I shed tears of frustration alone in my hotel room one night. I'm all for recognizing gender differences, but the dismissiveness and assumptions based on nothing more than appearance were disheartening.

But I also had some really productive conversations with men who wanted to know what they could do to help make their environments more diverse and met some really lovely people (women and men) so it was worth the discouragement. There was also some railing against this environment via social media and that gives me a bit of hope that we'll see a change for the better in the not too distant future.

A fun activity at one of the evening parties was time spent with a graphologist. Three sentences, a signature, and a date revealed to him that I'm creative, artistic, balanced, plan and follow through with projects, work well with direction, can be trusted with money and secrets (probably because I just forget stuff!), and help people feel comfortable and included. He explained that he looks at the the paragraph as though it's a painting: margins, the way I formed letters, spacing. it made me want to study graphology. But I wonder how the preponderance of keyboards and eschewance (I think I just made that word up, but I like it) of pens might be changing that science.


Yesterday was another round of speaker training. I think I made some progress and may actually come to enjoy it! The trainer really focused on help us project authority, which I think can come in handy in a variety of situations. She also spent some time illustrating the difference between aggression and authority. I think that will come in handy too.


It's my dad's birthday today and we had a nice long chat as I walked to get my lunch this afternoon, despite our differences in the perception of the Obamacare decision. Happy birthday!


At 7:58 AM, July 07, 2012, Blogger K2 said...

Go, Suzi. What you do seems really important.


Post a Comment

<< Home