A few weeks ago, I had a survey on twitter. I wanted to know if anyone wanted to be hired because of their gender. No one did. I wouldn’t either. It was clear everyone wants to be most suitable for the job or most qualified for it. And so would I.
That said, I have tried to stay out of both all male and all female panels. Why? The main reason is probably the fact that I don’t want to feel that I’m that diversity – woman in a group. It’s silly since I’m responsible for my own feelings. But I have to say those are the situations where you start to wonder why you were picked up in the first place.
On Tuesday, though, I was giving a workshop in European Women in Tech, Amsterdam. The beautiful part of the event was that this event wasn’t just an all-female seminar. I salute the brave gentleman attending my workshop, along with around 100 women! Oh, and he wasn’t the only man attending the seminar!
In my workshop, I talked about the difference in how women and men talk and listen. In a speaker’s corner, later on, I got a question about how do I see gender neutrality. I see a person as a person, with their strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t define people by gender at work. That’s how I would like to be treated too.
To practice what I preached, it meant, I had to revisit my own experiences that have created some myths into my head:
1) “Woman is a wolf to another woman.”
Like we discussed with some co-speakers, we all have faced more harsh behavior from female co-workers than from males, but here in the seminar, in the speakers’ room, there were no wolfs. These women honestly wanted other women to succeed in their workshops or sessions. No undermining, no questioning, pure wish to see someone else succeed.
2) “Life is just too short to be minions.”
Too many times, you pump into a story where you can hear someone telling how things at work practically suck. What I heard during the seminar was not the normal, “but I can’t do anything about it” but instead the continuation of it. Most of the attendees had already a plan to get away from it, or they are already looking for a new job.
3) “Someone else’s success is not away from yours.”
I met so many young, ambitious ladies who were already powerhouses that I only wished I could have been at my 20s or 30s. Having a bit more years and miles on the road, there might things that I could have a bit more perspective. Talking with those ladies, telling them about my decisions, struggles or success, and things that lead me to those is not anything away from me, nor from anyone else. It’s a shame some still see a fellow female as a rivalry. I wish I had had someone to spar with at my 20s, and I’m lucky that I have several at the moment.
4) “Give me 10 seconds to be upset, and then we can continue”
I met so incredible co-speakers that I can’t even start to describe! With these ladies, there was no change to stay serious or pretend to be something that you’re not. Some say ladies are unforgiving. Having the flow of the discussions from jokes to life and death, you get to see a fantastic scale of sides of people you just met. I don’t know if I met the rare species of females, but I would never say these ladies would be unforgiving at any level.
5) “You’re always giving some added value.”
One thing a co-speaker said out loud before both of us left for our sessions stick with me. How ever young or old your audience will be, whatever experience or education they will have, they are not you. You’ll always be able to bring some additional value to the table. After that, there was no need to picture your audience naked.
Thanks once again for all the organizers, co-speakers, sponsors and attendees. It was totally worth it!