How I Ended Up Co-Hosting a Women In Tech Event (Or, My Dreams Came True!)
I had no idea what he would say, but I had to ask.
"Would you like a co-host?" I said. "I'm available."
Plain and simple. Words of one syllable. Put it right out there. And then, I gave him options. "But if you'd like to use someone else, Ms. X of LocalTechCo and Ms. Y of LocalTechOrg might be good options. I don't know them personally, but I'm sure they'd be delighted." (This was possibly a big presumption, but heck, I would have been delighted, so I assumed they would be, too.) And then, the selling point: "I think it would be good PR to have a Woman In Tech as a co-host for this Women In Tech event."
I read over the email: Pitch, options, selling points. Not too long. High value (I used specific examples), low word count. No weasel words, or overuse of the word "just", as in, "I just think..." (When I see or hear that, I always want to respond, "Yes, that's all you're doing. You're JUST thinking. When you're ready to contribute something of value, please let me know.") But I digress.
I hit send.
I had to wait, maybe, a few hours. Not long at all. "I would LOVE a co-host," he wrote back. And then he refunded my ticket with the caption, "Hosts don't pay. :)" It was that easy.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: as women, we are NOT TRAINED in the art of the ask. Why? Well...when was the last time YOU asked someone out? Think about those ramifications for a second.
That's right. In the society in which we live, men gather ten to twenty years of experience, in their EARLY and FORMATIVE years, of asking people out. Women don't. TEN to TWENTY YEARS of EXTREMELY EARLY EXPERIENCE ASKING PEOPLE OUT. And, just to compare, women...don't have this. It's not a subjective discussion question. It's a fact.
So the next time some well-meaning meritocracy apologist says to you, "Well, men get paid more because women don't ASK for raises!", I suggest this plan of action: resist strangling that person, nod, (because it's true) and then make a note to yourself to go out and practice asking for things three times that week. At the second-hand store, ask if they'll take less for this bag. At work, ask for informational interviews with high-ranking women or men you admire. In line at Safeway, ask the person in front of you with 40 items if they wouldn't mind letting you go ahead with your half gallon of milk. The key to this practice is to ask LEVEL or UP. Don't practice asking by "asking" the waiter for extra sauce or the barista for an extra shot. They're getting paid to be nice to you and that is not fair. Ask for favors from those on YOUR LEVEL or UP.
Or, you know, if you'd prefer, just quickly walking away from the meritocracy apologist and taking a professional development class about emotional intelligence are good options, too.
Why don't woman engineers write blogs? Or: Why events?
The other day, I received a nice email from an old friend, with a fun project request:
"Hey, I have a favor to ask. I'm currently working up background info for a novel. The protagonist is an engineer and a woman. I have zero experience with either of these things and if you've got time, I was hoping I could pick your brain about it or direct me to some good resources (blogs, articles, something to help me understand the perspective a LOT better than I do)."
"Great to hear from you, and of course I'd love to chat about being a woman AND an engineer at the same time. It's doable, no matter what you may have heard on the news. :) It just takes a LOT of work. Being a minority always does. I was meditating the other day and this came to me: "Never underestimate the amount of energy it takes to live in a world not built for you."
I actually know very few blogs/resources that aren't IRL (in real life). Why? Well: Women engineers don't have time to write BLOGS. I wish we did. We're too busy trying to do our jobs AND navigate this weird old-boys-club world. (AND do the bulk of the home chores, but that's another matter.) Most resources I know are in the category of meetups and support networks, not blogs. But your question has reminded me that these things probably do exist, and in fact, a google search turned up a few links, none of which are great:
The SWE (Society of Women Engineers) has a blog: https://alltogether.swe.org/ but the formatting is terrible, almost unusable.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this, I learned (thanks to FB) of http://www.womenofsiliconvalley.orgwhich is quite good, and regularly updated!
From June 2016: https://medium.com/sci-chic/women-in-science-you-should-be-following-on-social-media-9a31c9f997f1 It's possible that some of these are probably actually still active.
From August 2014: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/cwsem/pga_050396, but it's science oriented, not engineering. On another note, this committee exists, and the calendar on the side bar is updated, so that's good news.
An ongoing blog: http://www.engineeringemily.com/ Which doesn't seem all that deep or well-written, but I could probably read more before making a judgement, and...some blog that died in 2011 and the reboot is clearly a spammy repub site, and another blog that died in 2009.
. . .
You see the problem. Twitter is actually the place nowadays for engagement, probably because it's a lot easier to fit 280 character updates into your life.
So: THIS IS WHY EVENTS. For a multitude of reasons, blogs don't fit a need; events do. I blogged myself for many years, and I loved it; I loved the camaraderie, the community. But today? I have to work, man. I have to hustle. I live by my wits, which means I'm often broke. Two or three hours, once a month, for an INTENSE community experience? Perfect. Thirty to sixty minutes a day for a virtual community experience? I'll pass. And so will everyone else.