Saturday 9 April 2011

Chairman, not Chairwoman

Chairman, not Chairwoman, or even Chair, I am Chairman of UKOUG and very, very proud. I have even created a policy stating I am chairman.

Not Chairwoman, I am the first lady chairman of UKOUG as this press article tells, but that doesn't worry me, or even make me proud. I am not someone who believes being a woman has held me back and I am virulently against positive discrimination.

Definitely not Chair, my great friend and new Deputy Chairman Lisa Dobson, called me the new chair on Twitter and was spammed by IKEA for days.

So I don't want or even approve of special rights for women. In Parts of Scandinavia there is a required number of women required on a board, and that is simply wrong, you need to be there because of the value you bring an organization, not because of your gender. And for the record UKOUG has 4 out of 12 women on our board, all there through merit.

Is there an issue for women in IT, I don't normally think about it, but on Woman's Day I was in an Oracle Office and was given a rose, by their OWL program (Oracle Women Leadership), but is such a group necessary? And I have just been invited to join the WITS NI (Women in Technology and Science), need to know more about it before I join.

I am at a conference this week that has a Woman in IT event, and I will go and probably enjoy it. If the speaker talks about juggling everything to get to the top, then fine, if it is about the adversity, I find that is more discouraging to woman. What I do think there is a need for is to encourage girls to study IT, and to join the industry. I would love to talk to girls at school about my career. I think there is no barrier for women in IT, once they actually take part.

When people ask me what is is like being in the minority in IT, I point out it is great, no queues for the restrooms at any conference. But is it a problem? In Oracle itself woman hold a lot of top jobs, Safra Catz, Judy Sim, Mary Ann Davidson to name but a few. So no barrier there.

In my employer, Fujitsu, I have never had a problem and in fact, I joined my local authority (Gloucester County Council) prior to transfer via outsourcing, and they had a recruitment drive for woman returnees in 1989 when the industry had a severe skills shortage. The program 'woman hold up half the sky' was to encourage woman who had left IT to have families to come back. They offered very flexible packages which were certainly not the normal then. I didn't want part-time, term-time, whatever, just the recognition I was a working mum. I never took advantage, or had time off except when my daughter had salmonella and I was allowed to work evenings for 6 weeks ( no remote access and home working then), but I hope they would have been just as flexible to a man if they had the need.

What I do hate though is people who tell me IT is male dominated, as if we are simply tolerated. I went to two Oracle award events recently where they appeared to have a two for one offer on the comedian. He told the same jokes both nights. He had worked out that everybody had a 1 in 4 chance of winning an award but only a 1 in 10 chance of 'picking up a girl'.

So no moans from me about being a woman, and as for the men in IT, I have worked with some of the best and very proud to have done so.

1 comment:

Misha Vaughan said...

Bravo Madam Chairman!