Speaking of Women

A few weeks ago PASSMN finalized the date for our SQL Saturday (October 25th, 2014). This means that we now have an official website for SQL Saturday #332 and opened up our call for speakers. This will be the 5th SQL Saturday that I will attend in Minnesota and the third one that I have been involved with the preparation. Last year I had the very fun task of selecting our speakers and organizing the schedule.  After looking at all of the abstracts and fitting them into slots on the schedule the hard part was deciding which sessions to attend. We are fortunate to have one of the larger SQL Saturday events (I expect we will go over 400 people this year) and as a result we get a lot of great sessions submitted. However…

there is an issue I have been thinking about all year since I put that schedule together. When we announced the list of sessions we only had one woman presenting at our SQL Saturday event in 2013. The reason for this was very easy to explain – we only had one woman submit any sessions. (Lara Rubbelke (blog|twitter) spoke on Big Data in the cloud with HDInsight and her session was well attended.) As one of the event planners it was tempting to say that it wasn’t my fault that we didn’t get more submissions from women, but it is not quite that simple. The pool of local speakers is primarily fostered by our local user group and I had to wonder if we could do more to encourage women to present. And part of me was worried we might be unwittingly doing something to discourage participation by women.

Whatever the cause of this lack of submissions last year, I want to take this chance to ask the women in the SQL Server community, both local and outside of Minnesota, to submit for SQL Saturday #332 in Minnesota.

I have come to realize as I get older that I will probably never be able to appreciate the viewpoint of women in technology. It is sometimes tempting to think I understand because some of the conversations I hear mirror my own concerns about confidence and fitting into a Bro-gramming culture, but it isn’t the same. I can empathize, but I will never have the same experiences. Which makes me a little nervous that this blatant asking for more submissions from women might be the wrong approach, but how awesome would it be to see a schedule with half men and half women for SQL Saturday MN? At the very least I hope this starts a conversation and we can figure out how to include more women presenters for the 2014 SQL Saturday.

I should point out that submitting doesn’t guarantee getting selected. While I am the board chair for PASSMN I will not be the person in charge of selecting our speakers this year. That will fall to other volunteers on the board.

Also while I am focusing on Women in Technology with this post I would encourage anyone in our SQL Server community to submit to SQL Saturday MN. It is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and if you are a first time presenter the audiences have never booed anyone off stage here in MN. I could go into all of the reasons speaking at these events is good for your career and helps you learn new skills and stretch yourself, but that is probably a topic for another day.

Click on the logo below and sign up to speak. You won’t regret it.



4 thoughts on “Speaking of Women

  1. Nice post! If I could make a suggestion, instead of tossing out a blanket invitation to women, seek out and invite the ones you admire with a personal e-mail or DM on Twitter. I guarantee it will make an impression and head off the idea that you are just looking for trophy women speakers.

    Good luck with your event!

  2. Thanks. That is the advice I keep hearing so I guess will be sending out some emails and setting up some coffee meetings this summer to talk to people about presenting.

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