I have the opportunity (privilege) to speak regularly with a group of women from around the globe who want to change the ratio in a variety of ways. All of us share a concern that women are not as present as they should be in a variety of venues – from management to STEM to speaker rosters at conferences. We call ourselves #WomenWhoTest and the more we talk, the more apt that name is, I think. Originally, we used the name because we had a common bond of either being testers now or having been testers in the past. Software, that is. But as we work more together, I think it’s a name that means more than that – we test ideas, we test theories, we test ourselves and our gender and our assumptions.
In our last call, we talked about why women are seldom speakers at conferences. We know the organizers want women speakers but we also know many women find it difficult to break their own barriers to submit talks and get up in front of an audience. Well, let’s face it – many men do too. As Betty Zakheim said in our last meeting, many people fear public speaking more than death. But here’s the thing… if women aren’t on the stage, presenting ideas and experiences, we don’t collectively get the opportunity to learn what they know or try out their suggestions. Women don’t become the teachers for the next generation of geeks and it will forever be steered by men alone.
Don’t get me wrong – the guys are doing a great job. I think we have some pretty exciting and excited voices out there… but some are missing. And we want to change that ratio.
To that end, we’re happy to announce the latest #WomenWhoTest brainchild: our mentor program. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, we want to help. Need someone to help you write an abstract a conference will care about? Want an experienced pair of eyes on your presentation? Want someone to dry run with? We want to help you find someone who can get you over that hump.