Oct 10

Technology, Women and Equity at the 2014 Grace Hopper Conference

I am proud of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (@ghc) community this week for raising important issues and grappling with uncomfortable, difficult-to-solve questions.

I appreciate FirstRain’s own Penny Herscher (@pennyherscher) for putting herself out there to moderate the Male Allies Panel, despite the concerns going-in about how to constructively include that perspective.  The fiery reaction to that session raised the level of engagement around deep-seated systemic equity issues in our industry in a way that would not have been achieved otherwise.  And in Penny’s usual way — she engaged those issues head-on, in direct personal and online exchanges with the men & women, leadership & grassroots members of the community.

Satya Nadella’s wrong-headed comment the next morning  (as he has acknowledged), underscored the complacency and problems around gender-equity issues, even among the thoughtful and well-intentioned.  This forced the realization that this is not an simply an issue of perception, interpretation or over-reaction. But will require a real introspection and major change — even from colleagues and leaders who are confident they are already totally on-board and acting as allies for equity.

This was the near-perfect opportunity, timing and forum to examine the truth.  It is remarkable that even given the charged emotions around this,  the discussion started relatively politely, and besides excessive piling on, it remained safe — this in stark contrast to the ugly violent targeting has been simultaneously unfolding around GamerGate.  Which only further highlights the reality of the technology industry’s toxic differences in how men and women are treated.

It is too bad that before Nadella’s KarmaGate comment, he stated one of my favorite quotes of the whole conference — summing up why I’ve loved doing this work, nearly every day for over two decades: 

“[We work with] the most malleable of our resources, software… That’s the rich canvas that we get to shape… paint…”  -Satya Nadella

He nailed it.  He put his finger on that the one thing that probably links all the men and women in that event.  This is a deep-thinker who understands the heart of matters, which is what made his later comment so doubly surprising and disheartening.

I am encouraged to see the after-effects like Alan Eustace trying to do things differently.  And honest conversations with ABI executives about their awareness and struggle with the impossible balance of growing their reach and impact while containing the inevitable, unintended side effect of corporate co-opting.

To all of you “good guys who do care” — Satya, Alan, Mike Schroepfer, Blake Irving, Tayloe Stansbury — less patronizing talk is nice, listening is refreshing, but which of you and your companies is going to commit to results?

==> Here my question to all the “good guys” out there as well as my fellow female leaders:  Who is going to set and deliver specific targets for ratios of women and minorities that reflect the real population — in technical leadership by a specific date… 2016? 2017? Who is going to hack their orgs & companies to solve this problem, rather than running feel-good, look-good “programs”?  

The Grace Hopper Celebration is an inspiring, important and high-quality gathering in an industry that is littered with mediocre PR-flogging events.  

“The Asian community owes a lot to the black community. They opened a lot of doors for us [in the fight for equality].” -Barb Gee

I’m not going to end this post with some rah-rah “just go get ’em girls!” trope. Because the women technologists are already out there — delivering effort, innovation and results at 120% while receiving 70%… 80%… (to be wildly optimistic) of the recognition and reward.

I will share just one final favorite conference quote, which is how this gathering makes me feel every time I attend:

"… at #GHC14… Just not enough space to desc. Wow. Much women. So much brain” -@michelesliger

It is our industry and companies that need to be fixed, not the women in it. I have to believe it is becoming increasingly obvious to our leaders, managers and co-workers that under-valuing this incredibly intellectual resource is idiotic, bad business, and just plain wrong.

- YY Lee (@thisisyy), COO of FirstRain

Mar 18

Triple Gear & Hilbert Curve: 3D-printed mathematical sculptures by Henry Segerman  #math #3Dprinting #topology

Triple Gear & Hilbert Curve: 3D-printed mathematical sculptures by Henry Segerman  #math #3Dprinting #topology

Dec 24

(via realkidsgoodbooks)

Nov 11

“But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.” — Daphne du Maurier (via likeafieldmouse)

(Source: likeafieldmouse)

Nov 08


the more things change the more they stay the same…. 


the more things change the more they stay the same…. 

(via realkidsgoodbooks)

Nov 04


Oct 21

“You got to pick the notes you really mean.” — Thelonius Monk via Haruki Murakami

Oct 11

“What we Americans go through to pick a president is not only crazy and unnecessary but genuinely abusive. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in a craven, cynical effort to stir up hatred and anger on both sides. A decision that in reality takes one or two days of careful research to make is somehow stretched out into a process that involves two years of relentless, suffocating mind-warfare, an onslaught of toxic media messaging directed at liberals, conservatives and everyone in between that by Election Day makes every dinner conversation dangerous and literally divides families.” — Matt Taibbi (via azspot)

(via realkidsgoodbooks)

Oct 07

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” — Henry David Thoreau

Sep 28

“Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave… even if the new iPhone Maps was the most terrible maps app ever, Steve would have pooh-poohed it and declared it the best map app ever.” —

- my super-astute friend, John Aquino

re: A Letter from Tim Cook…