Monday, March 4, 2013

International Women's Day & Voices For You

It is the month of March, and that means International Women's Day is right around the corner. Pop Quiz: do you know when International Women's Day is?

March 8th is International Women's Day.

The century-long evolution of this holiday is quite interesting. Are you familiar with the history of International Women's Day? You can read more here.

International Women's Day is no Hallmark Holiday - it was founded, and has continued to grow and evolve based upon real need, real passion, real effort. If anyone thinks "we don't need it" any more I'm going to wonder what rock you have been hiding under. Politically Conservative or Politically Liberal, or Politically Not-Sure (also Politically Disgusted), it is hard to argue that things are just peachy perfect fine in terms of gender equality.

One friend and colleague in the computing world likes to point out to me that different countries and cultures have different perspectives about gender issues, and that what may be a concern in one part of the world may not be a problem at all elsewhere. However, as I like to point out in return, I have yet to hear about anywhere on the planet where there is nothing to be concerned about. And I mean from the point of view of the women and men in those cultures. 

We are not a monolith (that would be boring wouldn't it?). Speaking just of the computing world now, women everywhere have things to express about their hopes and desires, balance between personal and professional life, experiences good and bad. Sometimes there aren't very many sympathetic listening ears. Listening to what other women computing professionals have to say is enlightening. The good, the bad and the ugly. There is a lot of all three, but how often do we take the time to reach out, listen, share, provide support for each others growth?

It is absolutely wonderful (wonderful wonderful) to attend a conference of women in computing. If you are fortunate enough to have attended one of the growing number of WICs, you know exactly what a life altering experience it can be. However, on a global scale, the many thousands of women who have been to a physical WIC conference is a very small percentage of  all the women who are part of, or aspire to be part of, the professional computing world. It takes time, it takes the ability to travel, it takes money. Not everyone has those things in abundance.

However, I'm really psyched to say that there is something new for International Women's Day this year and in particular for  technical women. Something that virtually everyone can take part in. (in my usual style that is a bad pun).

There is a global movement afoot to connect technical women to each other. Many of us already know the power of community building and outreach. But there are people out there who have not yet experienced enough of these opportunities. Most of us, in fact I'd wager. International Women's Day provides a motivational opportunity to continue building and reaching.  In terms of walking the talk, there is no better day of the year to connect technical women to one another.

Voila: The Voices Global Conference: a virtual, global conference for technical women. No travel required, miniscule investment involved. You need access to a computer. That's it. I believe that every continent is taking part in this conference, during their Friday this week (March 8th - International Women's Day). It's all online - talk about creative. It's interactive. It's diverse, it's inclusive...ok, I'm waxing in the direction of poetic. Or something like that.

The Voices Global Conference is an incredible opportunity to learn, to listen, to share, to network, to gain access to some incredibly talented, successful, influential women in the computing world.

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