It’s International Women’s Day. Yes, we get one day a year to celebrate our ladyhood. Or something like that.
I used to snicker at meetings, classes and events focused on Women in Technology (WIT). The thought of sitting around in a room full of women complaining about how hard it is to work in a man’s world did not appeal to me. To think of rallying around a cause for pay equity drove me crazy because I had never met a woman who had ever asked for a raise. I still have met only 2 who have told me they have done this. I thought that WIT issues were only about man-hating and failing to ask for what we deserved. Then an amazing thing happened. I was asked to serve as a national spokesperson for the CIPS Women in Technology program. I really didn’t want to do it, but agreed because I wanted to help.
Why was it amazing? Because I found out that most WIT initiatives aren’t about male-bashing and waiting for someone to make our lives better. One specific cause that made me "get it" was the fact that girls who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) don’t pursue studies in these areas because we, society, are constantly throwing obstacles in front of them. That got me going. I had experienced the same things:
- A high school guidance counsellor who told me that I did not want to pursue a career in a man’s field. That I would be lonely amongst all those guys and never feel at home. Wow. Was she wrong.
- A series of really terrible math teachers. And by terrible, I mean a couple who were very vocal about a female’s inability to succeed at math…high school math. Teachers who were also coaches who really didn’t want girls in their classes.
- Family members who didn’t really want me to study science. My grandmother told me it would be better to marry an engineer than to be one. So I did both.
- Messages from all around me that pretty was better than smart. That pink is the only colour for girls. That boys do fun things and girls take care of them.
So in my time as WIT spokesperson, I was able to see that we have a huge problem in society that the majority of the population is being discouraged from studying STEM and pursuing STEM-related careers. Sure, no one should be forced into these careers, but it makes me mad to see smart, highly-capable girls being steered away from professionally and financially rewarding jobs.
Recently the Girl Scout Research Institute released a report, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In the executive summary, they outline their findings:
These findings, we believe, will lead to more comprehensive solutions to the underrepresentation of women in the STEM
workforce. We found that:
- Seventy-four percent of high school girls across the country are interested in the fields and subjects of STEM.
- Girls are interested in the process of learning, asking questions, and problem solving.
- Girls want to help people and make a difference in the world.
- Girls who are interested in STEM are high achievers who have supportive adult networks and are exposed to STEM fields.
- Girls who are interested in STEM fields are actually interested in many subjects and career opportunities—STEM is just one area of interest among many.
- Perceived gender barriers are still high for girls and may help explain why STEM fields aren’t their top career choices.
- African American and Hispanic girls have high interest in STEM, high confidence, and a strong work ethic, but have fewer supports, less exposure, and lower academic achievement than Caucasian girls.
This research can help to change the discussion on girls and STEM by offering a much needed
strength-based perspective focusing on what contexts are most supportive for girls. We hope
this research helps to take the conversation to the next level by focusing on how to use girls’
interests to cultivate career plans for them in STEM fields.
So girls do have an interest in the subject, they do want to work in these fields, but something stops them. That’s what I talk about on WIT panels. The number one question I get from people opposed to WIT programs is "why should we force girls into something they aren’t interested in" The answer: we shouldn’t. But research like the GSRI report shows that many girls who say they aren’t interested don’t have a clear image of what our careers are like. Others have an interest, but don’t believe they can or don’t believe they should. This is a huge problem for the IT industry and for the economy. More than half of our workforce is female, but things are getting in the way of them preparing for, entering and staying in the IT field. I want to motivate those of us in the IT profession to actively do something to remove these obstacles, one misconception at a time.
You Can Help
You have the power to do that. Talk to the young women in your family. Tell them how great it is that you still have a job and your company is still trying to fill open positions. Tell them about work you do that is making a difference in other people’s lives. Talk to their parents about how important it is that they ensure their girls have a great math teacher or tutor. Ask your local user group, DAMA Chapter or SQLSaturday why they didn’t have a WIT panel. Volunteer to be on a WIT panel — yes, even you men. If your local user group doesn’t allow men on the WIT panels or events, ask them why they think this is only a female issue. Start people talking about why they think WIT is an issue or not. Then share the facts with them. Volunteer to speak at your schools. Take a girl to a museum. Let your daughter shop in the "boys" toy aisle, too. Speak out when someone says that giving girls career options is forcing them to be less female. Talk to people about this post. Leave a comment. Share it. Get people thinking about the WIT issue as a problem for all of us.
You can make a difference. One person at a time. Do it.
On Wednesday, 7 March Microsoft is holding a virtual launch event for the newest version of Microsoft SQL Server to be released on 1 April. You want to be there. Yes, even you data architects, business analysts, project managers, enterprise architects and other IT professionals working in the upper rows of the Zachman Framework. Why? Because there are many new features in SQL Server 2012 made just for you:
- Master Data Services
- Data Quality Services
- BI Semantics
- Self Serve BI
- Hadoop integration
- New Data Tools
- New datatypes, database objects and other design features like ColumnStore Indexes.
You’ll have access to SQL Server MVPs who will be standing by to take your questions and chat about the new features we are most excited about. I’ll be working at these Topic Pods:
- Application Development, Beyond Relational, Connectivity at 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT
- Business Intelligence & Enterprise Information Management at 9 PM ET / 6 PM PT
If you register for the event, you can stop by and chat with some awesome SQL Server MVPs and me about some of the newest features of SQL Server.
Unlike that other launch that is happening tomorrow, at the SQL Server Launch you can earn some really great prizes: cash gift cards, SQL Server Gear, and Xboxes. So the more you watch, the more you engage, the more you can win. Cash, Swag and Gaming. What more could you want?
Lovin’ Just for You
While I think non-DBA types can get a lot out of the overviews of all the new features, I think developer and data professionals will find these agenda items the most applicable:
Blazing-Fast Performance: A Technical Best Practices Tour with ColumnStore Index
Go behind the scenes with SQL Server engineers for a quick technical tour of the ColumnStore Index feature and an introduction to best practices for achieving astonishing performance with your ColumnStore Indexes.
Blazing-Fast Performance: Explore FileTables, Full-Text Search and Semantic Search for Faster, More Meaningful Results Across Unstructured Data
80% or more of the data produced and stored are so called unstructured documents and are often not stored in the database, but often need to be managed in conjunction with relational data. In order to facilitate the storage and management of unstructured data, SQL Server has evolved from storing blobs to providing a sophisticated integration with the Windows Filesystem and provides rich services over such data to provide an interesting and compelling application development experience. This presentation introduces the new unstructured data processing capabilities of SQL Server 2012 that provide full Windows application-compatible file management over files stored in SQL Server as well as the services to unlock the information in such data such as the extensions and improvements to Full-Text Search and the introduction of semantic similarity search.
Organizational Compliance: Using the New Security Features and Audit Enhancements to Increase Compliance Policies
Introduction to new security features in SQL Server 2012 such as User-Defined Server Roles and enhanced Auditing to increase organization compliance.
Peace of Mind: Quick Tour Through the New SQL Server Migration Assistant
In this session we will review SSMA modules that automate assessment, schema conversion, data migration and testing of Oracle and Sybase migrations to SQL Server 2012.
Unlocking the Value of Big Data with Microsoft Business Intelligence
Klout is a ground-breaking company that extracts signals from social networks to determine which people are most influential. Hadoop is a core part of how Klout captures and processes over 3 billion signals daily, however translating and analyzing these signals into meaningful information requires a scalable and cost effective business intelligence solution. That’s where Microsoft SQL Server 2012 comes in, delivering “speed of thought” ad hoc queries, with response times of under 10 seconds on 35 billion rows of data. Learn more about Big Data and BI best practices in this session.
Rapid Data Exploration: Empowering End User Insight Through Rapid Data Exploration and Visualization with Power View
Introduction to Power View, the new thin, self-service ad hoc reporting tool. In this session we will highlight its main features, scenarios, show a demo, and discuss its relationship to other products in the BI stack (SharePoint, Excel).
Rapid Data Exploration: Powerful Self-Service Analysis with PowerPivot
Get a taste of what’s new in PowerPivot, the self-service BI experience that enables information workers to build their personal and team BI applications within the familiar environment of Excel: This session will provide a quick introduction to PowerPivot, followed by demos highlighting the top 5 new modeling features delivered with the release of SQL Server 2012.
Managed Self-Service BI: End User Created, IT Managed
Introduction to the BI continuum – IWs using the familiar tools like Excel, IT retaining control and governance of the workbooks. We will show how IT can manage the system in SharePoint, and how self-service BI solutions transition to managed corporate BI solutions.
Credible, Consistent Data: Going Under the Hood with the New BI Semantic Model
Introduction to the BISM, position tabular and multidimensional types of models. We will show how easy it is to create a model in PowerPivot, show how Power View is leveraging it, and highlight how easy is it to go from an individual workbook to the enterprise IT governed BI solution.
Credible, Consistent Data: Improving Data Quality with the New Data Quality Services
No matter how brilliant your BI tools are, it’s garbage-in-garbage-out. This session will give an overview on the new Data Quality Services product in SQL Server 2012. Come watch this important scenario to learn how to position, sell, and demo the new DQS product.
Credible, Consistent Data: Empowering IW / Data Experts to Efficiently Manage Important Data with the New Master Data Services Add-In for Excel
Introduction to the improvements and new functionality in the SQL Server 2012 release, empowering IW to curate the organization’s important data, maintaining it accurate and relevant through its lifecycle, via easy model creation and validation.
Credible, Consistent Data: Introducing New Team-based Data Integration with Integration Services
There are plenty of new features for SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) in SQL Server 2012 that make it a very compelling release for your customers. This session will cover some of the highlights of the release, including the new Change Data Capture functionality. We will demonstrate how to bring together key components needed to build an effective ETL framework using SSIS. This reusable framework will show off the new functionality and productivity enhancements for existing users, and present a compelling story for customers who have never seen or used SSIS before. We will cover the end-to-end lifecycle of an SSIS solution, including how to maintain and manage the framework once it has been deployed into production.
Scalable Analytics & Data Warehousing: Fast Track for SQL Server 2012
Fast Track for SQL Server 2012 has significant improvements, leveraging exciting new enhancements in SQL Server 2012 like the new ColumnStore Index feature. You will also see how Fast Track partners are working with the SQL Server team to transform the latest enhancements in server and storage technology into highly optimized data warehouse Reference Architectures.
Big Data Analytics with Apache Hadoop and SQL Server 2012
In this session we will explore Apache Hadoop on Windows Server and Azure and powerful insights we can generate integrating with SQL Server.
There are more sessions, so be sure to check them all out. I hope you register and learn how you can Love Your Data with SQL Server 2012. See you there.
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