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Stunned

August 28, 2013

I’m stunned, and I’m not releasing many details here. Not because I condone this, but because the who did this isn’t nearly as important as the message and the behavior. I didn’t press for more details when I heard about it and I’m not interested in learning specifics.

A user group leader responded to an inquiry with: “We don’t want female speakers. Our users only want to hear technical content.”

First, what the <insert your own expression here>? Second, seriously? Third, WTF? I’m actually stunned that in 2013 we have someone that doesn’t believe that female speakers can deliver technical content.

We will never eradicate prejudice and bigotry from the world. As humans, we all have our own beliefs, likes, dislikes, and our prejudices. We form impressions of people, of groups, even of events, and those impressions influence how we view the world and interact with others. Some of us change our minds over time while some of us cling stubbornly to our stances. There will always be some friction in our dealings with others, depending on how we view the person.

When I see quotes like this, I know we need groups like the Women in Technology that advocate for more participation and fair treatment of their members. I had someone express concern a few years ago that this type of group might fragment our SQL Server community. What happens if we have Black Men in Technology, or Chinese Women in Technology, or any othe=r subset of our members. I think those groups would be fine, and necessary, whenever we have a group of people that struggle with their place in the the community. Organizations can help their members to improve their own skills are handling situations and improving the way they work within the larger community.

I firmly believe that we are all better off when we have a diverse community, with all types of people, a variety of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and most importantly, teachers. It takes some effort from all groups to consider and incorporate that diversity into our user groups, conferences, and other events. There are so many talented, technical people around. I’d encourage organizers and attendees to choose and watch a wide variety of speakers. Take a chance on someone that you might not normally consider. You never know when the person you prejudge will surprise you in the end.

Steve Jones

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6 Comments
  1. Wow! It’s a damn shame when people hold and publicly express these pathetic, uninformed and bigoted views. It’s hard to reconcile in 2013 for someone to blatantly advertise their bigotry. Do you think their was an ulterior motive to cause controversy? Even bigots are profoundly aware that their views will offend and cause outrage. (We can let Karen Lopez loose on them and kick his ass ;-)

    • No idea. It was disclosed to me by a person that heard it. I guess it could have been on purpose, but I’m sure this still exists. I wrote about it to bring attention to the attitude, not target a particular person.

  2. Stunned as well. Truly!

  3. Stunned? No not really. Sad, disappointed, disgusted, really really hoping it was someone’s idea of a really really bad joke to a friend that got way out of hand. But no, unfortunately I’m not stunned.

  4. Wow just came across this and wanted to comment.

    My first thought was of the host of female DBA’s who are incredible technically professionals that I would hand’s down want to see present. The fact that they are women is a subtle mental acknowledgement, the fact that are brilliant and leaders in their respective fields are what would put my butt in the seat. Kimberly Tripp, Kalen Delaney, Kendra Little, Kathi Kellenberger, Jes Borland, Jen McCown, Gail Shaw, and a lot more immediately spring to mind.

    More shocked than anything that in a world with so many great presenters that this line of thought would even still exist.

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