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My friend (and client) Dan Antion (@dantion) tweeted a link to an excellent article this morning entitled An Open Letter on Feminism In Tech. The subtitle is “We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen.” I’m right there with this.
My role models about feminism were my mother Christina Bellamy and my paternal Grandfather Denton (of all people!).
Their type of feminism wasn’t the radical feminism of the early 70s with all of it’s harsh demands and in-your-face rhetoric. It was exactly the type of feminism described in this excellent article by a group of women technologists.
Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, and that we want to be treated as equals.
As more eloquently said in the article, we can’t allow the sorts of bad behavior that occur in tech, or anywhere else. In the article, the writers point out that these tenets should apply to *any* group within tech that isn’t the mainstream, white male group that has dominated the industry historically.
But it goes much further than that.
At our son Calder’s school they have a zero tolerance rule about bullying. It causes some uncomfortable moments, but the effect is virtually zero bullying, creating a nurturing, healthy learning environment. Here’s a Wordle that shows many of the words that describe what this leads to. Take out the obviously unaligned ones, and I’d say that this is how we should make tech feel to women, or anyone else.
Each of us should be a part of the solution. In SharePointlandia (aka the SharePoint Community), we have far less of the bad behavior than what I’ve seen in other technologies. So on some levels, we’re lucky. Working with SharePoint to some degree means a sort of self-selection for people who see collaboration and group work as a useful, productive thing. The characteristics of who is a part of those activities becomes less important. But we aren’t perfect either. There is always room for improvement and collective enlightenment. (Yeah, that sounds a little sappy, but even when you get really good at something, you can strive to be great.)
To borrow a phrase, “If you see something, say something”. Let’s make sure that SharePointlandia is a land of openness and opportunity for all of us, no matter who or what we are.
Addendum: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Women in SharePoint, which “is dedicated to helping women working as SharePoint professionals reach their career objectives through a variety of community, training and mentoring programs.”