Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It all comes down to being the wrong sex?

Erica Jong quite plainly says what we're all thinking and HATING. When do we get credit for just doing the job right or having the right credentials regardless of our sex. HRC at least has us looking in the mirror once again and asking ourselves if we'll ever achieve anything that allows us to put gender aside. In North America we achieve much success as women but it is always nagging to feel our sex is holding us back.

What's your take?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Where in the world is Elisabeth!

Well ladies. I apologize for my absence. It seems that the last 5 months have spiralled from the normal long days to a slightly ridiculous 24 hours, 7 days a week. I almost forgot where I lived! I have had only enough time to try and help with the disaster in Mexico last month and for some local fundraising. I have at least 10 topics to cover with you and as early as next week I should have them all posted.

I do have a big request for those of you out there that can empathize with the "no time for me" scenario. WPC 2008 is not so far off in terms of scheduling sessions. I'd love to see us repeat our session but with a new twist: "Technology Secrets of the Busy Woman Executive: how to stay productive and sane."

I can see a lot of interaction and a few key speakers (and your participation, of course, is vital to making this an exciting session). Email me at if you want this session and if you want to participate! We will be heard!

Monday, October 8, 2007

What we could use more of

As I look at what our industry needs to do to encourage more women into the IT industry it was clear that some firms are taking steps to ensure that they create sustainable employment in their own, but focused on women! CN Canada's largest railway company has established a set of scholarships for women as shown below at my sons' college (Dawson). So the rail industry is encouraging women specifically in non-traditional fields. Maybe they know what we know, but the difference is they are doing something about it at the college level, before women can turn their back on it.

CN Scholarships for Women
$600 CN Scholarships for Women in the following tech programs:
Analytical Chemistry
Civil Engineering
Mec Tech

Something for us to take a closer look at. What do you think? Do you know or have you helped establish this kind of funding at your local college. Tell us more!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Put a woman in the boardroom = better corporate financials! Who would have thought?!

On the heels of SMB Nation, I took obvious delight in finding this article :-). Read with pleasure and hold your head high ladies. Our "new worth" is more than the Fortune 500's could have ever guessed. Go women in the boardroom!!

1 step forward, 10 steps back

This was just posted to yahoo news tonight. I am puttign it here so that we don't forget the world is not always in agreement with the way we live, our values and our choices. Sombre, but reality has to be faced and we then have to make our own decision as to how we will help those women around us move forward.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Yes Virginia, there is a Glass Ceiling

I hadn't landed back home more than a few hours from SMB Nation, when I picked up the morning's paper and read the title "For some women, maternal wall meets glass ceiling". I was actually glad to see this come up at a time where half of us are saying this is not an issue and half are saying that they have first hand proof of that very thing. Many of the women interviewed had taken breaks only to find that their positions had been "modified" AND often they weren't welcome back to the same position (usually a management or upper mid-management one) or there was a position at a lower "ranking". So then there is no surprise to look at the figures Eileen Brown's group put together and give great thought and credibility to the fact that over 75% of women had no plans to take a break.

What in heaven's name is going on here?

So does this mean there is a glass ceiling for child bearing women only. No but perhaps it is the more prevalent one and its worth asking how we can't come to accept this as a possibility. As an independent business person I can't make any comment here but I can tell you it was certainly interesting to see how people treated you. In most cases I was all of a sudden less "credible" and this certainly was the case with people who didn't know me and I ended up taking no time off whatsoever. Foolish, but it was clear to clients and staff I was trying to prove a point. I was no less competent and my business was not taking a hit form my ability to give birth. Today I see that as a mistake and I certainly wasn't doing myself any favors.

What we need to ask ourselves is are we also treating our pregnant coworkers differently as their workload is offloaded and jealous of their pending break. Are we not keeping an eye and ear out for their jobs and ensuring that we not only protect our females counterparts but also don't inadvertently try to take their jobs from them while they're absent. And why don't we stand up when we see that glass ceiling coming down on their heads. That could be our daughters, if not ourselves, next.

In this day of mobile workforces why should this be an issue?

Something to think about.

SMB Nation - WIL&T Luncheon

It didn't take more than 30 minutes before the SBSC Diva was blogging about our session. It was surprising and yet there was a lot to be said about trying to implore information to a group of partners (90% male) and most 1-2 man firms.

That being said, it was refreshing to hear about the way so many women "fell" into technology. So many smart women who, like Karen Lay-Brew wanted to go into medicine, only to be sidetracked because her father had suggested taking 8 years to get a medical degree would hamper becoming a mother. Now raising twins, Karen is a gem in this industry, someone who not only has brought innovation but also gives back by supporting associations like the Asia Pacific women's organization and our WIL&T initiative. She has done her own share of research on this subject and makes for an excellent panellist which showed on stage last week.
What were the challenges with this kind of a session:

Demographics vs Research: Our audience was 90-95% male and closer to firms of a size that are not employing women because they run the firms either alone or with 1 partner. That means they aren't either considering growing or they have not put that on the radar yet. The research was very much focused towards larger (say minimum 25 or more employee firms and upwards. In reality the women (and a few men) polled were Microsoft industry people, but many probably belonging to, I suspect, much larger firms). It is irrelevant, however, in the fact that women are being ignored as a source of industry workers. Sustainability is the issue. We did adjust our presentation entirely from WPC in Denver but the facts are the facts. We did implore on them to think of this in terms of partnering. That was a connection they could more easily make!

Reality Check vs I'll Be Just Fine, Thank You: The audience has probably still not fully felt the extent to which they will be stretched to the limit as more small and medium businesses are getting curious about technology such as Sharepoint, Groove, Performance Point Server, Mobile 6 and that just a very few of Microsoft's new tools! So what happens when someone wants the server, the MOSS, Groove, Mobile 6, Vista and a .net solution to handle their very specific shipping and billing processes. First when the audience was polled, they didn't see any issues around this. I suspect the first thing they will realize as demand spirals upward, and it will, is that they are going to desperately start looking for help and if the decrease in skilled workers which equals less skilled partner to partner with sets in more and more, well, they just might lose precious business opportunities left, right and center, to larger firms who have the resources, well planned out, and have, at minimum, created relationships with partners/resources, women included, who they can count on to allow them to meet market demand. Now this is a point that they saw hitting them in the pocket book and they listened up.

Times "they are a changing"!: Did our audience notice the trend toward more and more women administrators who are making the final decision on the technology their firms will adopt, are female. While right now these women have very little choice of whether they have to listen to a jargon pumping, techno speaking male (a published and acknowledged tendency) or a female, who takes out the jargon and replaces it with explanations in terms of solutions and the way in which they will change and promote productivity and still be a very economically sound investment well then as more women consultants are taking to the road and competing with men, the more you will see them succeed and create a competitive situation. Even men, who would be otherwise too shy to ask for an explanation of techno geek, will gravitate to this way of selling. Products (tools) and potential solutions are getting more complex, but only if you don't have someone to guide you properly. That's where women come in. And they do it AFTER listening to the client's pain points.

How did this all turn out?

From Beatrice Mulzer of SMB Nation (and a panellist):

We had positive feedback from males and females alike, the session was well received and the data presented spurred many discussions!

I personally felt that I would have done a better job of positioning this if I knew my audience in advance a little better (you know the joke about ASSUME (ing) anything), BUT it is clear that perhaps we do , with many things, have to start at the top with making the awareness of this issue and let it trickle down as the relevant issues start to hit our partners where it counts, the pocket book.
Kudos to all our panellists! Andrea, Sharon, Karen and Beatrice.

So what do you think we can do to affect the SMB market and pave the way for the future women in our industry?