Too much X and not enough why.

 

Chromosomes

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This week has been all about being a working woman. A woman who works. A woman in business. A woman in technology. A woman working with other women. A woman working with men.

On Wednesday, I found myself stepping in at the last minute for a photography assignment – documenting a Women in Business conference. At the Women in Business event, there was a lot of discussion about women not selling themselves, about the fact they’re more likely to convince themselves they can’t do a job – as opposed to guys who look at a position they’re barely qualified for and step forward. There were recommendations about strategising a personal brand, pushing ourselves beyond Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and into YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and beyond. We were advised to standardise our identity and run a consistent brand across this epic social ecosystem.  Much of this was useful. I hate selling myself and need to get better at it. It’s physically draining, feels like bullshit and plays out as projection. But I know I need to change. (A bit.) I’m foolishly open about all of my failures, confess that I have no visible work of which I’m proud and am hopelessly vague about where I see myself in five years time. Perhaps…. because five years ago, I would not have seen myself here and five years before that, my future didn’t exist. At school (like school-school), digital strategists hadn’t been invented and the future was light, not the apocalyptic blush I see in my thirties.

I am not a television channel and I am not a radio station. I am not a twittering torrent of daily commentary. Every interaction is authentic – intended, designed. There is much overlap between who I am on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but my networks vary and what I say on Facebook, isn’t necessarily something that should go on LinkedIn, though I have professional connections in every social space. I don’t want the same profile photo everywhere and if it appears more than once it’s because it was more convenient/accessible to upload in my two-minute window. I am a girl and a woman and a geek. I am a writer and photographer and artist and connector. I have photos with family, friends, musicians and makers. I have have photos of myself taken by others. My female identity is multifaceted and that is the brand. It’s fluid and dynamic and it changes with age and experience. This is everything about being a human and everything about being a creative woman in business.

Stop telling me to behave like a man. Stop telling me to be more hard-nosed, to wear more make-up, to wear heels (this wasn’t in the slides, but the message at the conference was universal). Stop telling me to be less emotional, to care less, to stop apologising and stop telling me I’m too damn nice! I want recognition for my feminine qualities … for my feminist qualities, as well as financial renumeration to grow a pair of balls. Besides, sometimes the  arguably more masculine territory of asserting a point of view and challenging convention just makes you a dick. I’ve also learnt that the hard way.

As most of you (I like to imagine I’m addressing an audience of thousands) know, I’m also also an organiser for Girl Geeks Toronto and this month we’re organising a “discussion night”. For two reasons…. 1) our ladies have wanted a mix of formats and requested a more interactive session, a chance for more discussion and debate. 2) A few of us are questioning (but not challenging) the return on investment for meetups pitched at women working in tech. This is not the same at questioning the validity of networking in this space, but when I look at Girl Geeks and Ladies Learning Code and Dames Making Games and Girls in Tech and Women in Business and and and…. what is it exactly that we’re hoping to achieve? Where are our SMART objectives and are we actually changing the behaviours that are supposed to be holding us back?

If I ever decide to leave Girl Geeks, I’m going to start a meetup called “women who just want to break shit”. I’ve watched my friends’ sons run around and smash into things, then dive into mud and add stuff to water that should never have got wet. I’m convinced that the reason there are more men in tech, in programming, in leadership roles etc etc is because they enjoyed breaking things as kids, took things apart and really get to the nuts and bolts of how things are put together. Risk-taking, analysing, native curiosity. If women are really going to challenge men for power, it’s going to take serious psychotherapy.

I know some wonderful men. Intelligent men. Sensitive men. Men supportive of women. Awesome men. Inspiring men.  But (!) in this day and age you have no right to tell me that equality as a woman means behaving like a man. I say this as much for those women in suits, heels and makeup, as I do for female developers who look down on the soft-skilled. I just want recognition for being myself. Softly spoken, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. And usually nice.

Just “Rach”.

I’m a woman in business and technology.

 

 

 

 

 

* Image courtesy of http://open.jorum.ac.uk/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/982/Items/SK220_1_01…

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