Posted in WIT, WITspiration

Announcing the launch of: WITspiration

I cannot begin to say how excited I am for this blog post because I finally get to tell you about something that’s been in the works for a while.

My good friend Tracy Boggiano (t | m | b) and I are happy to announce the launch of WITspiration, a women’s mentoring circle.

What is WITspiration?

The goal of this group is simple:

The logo for WITspiration: An image in the center shows a person helping another person climb onto a block. Under the image is the group's name, WITspiration, with the tagline "Lift as We Climb" underneath. The colors are a peach-y pink (or pink-y peach) with the image and tagline in a muted red.

To inspire and empower women in tech, starting with the data platform community, to thrive in their careers through community based mentorship.

Our tagline:

Lift as We Climb.

This is something we hear a lot from a lot of different people; Rie Merritt (t | m) is someone who I often associate with this phrase. It’s important for women to support other women. And this fits our goal perfectly. We’re not only a part of this to get the support we need but help others reach their goals at the same time. We’re truly lifting others as we lift ourselves.

What is a mentoring circle and how does it work?

I first heard about the concept of mentoring circles from Kellyn Pot’vin-Gorman (t | b). I loved the idea because of egalitarian qualities of it. Everyone is a mentee and everyone is a mentor. It’s a collective way to work together to hear the different thoughts and opinions and really work through various issues. For me, it’s also less pressure. I’m always worried that I may give someone bad advice or steer them wrong. With a circle, I have a partner who can also give another perspective and between us, we can provide more support for that third person.

We will create circles of 3 or 4 people, trying to match interests and goals as much as possible. Then we’ll leave it up to each group to find times to get together and mentor each other. We’ll ask one person in the group to help organize when the meetings happen, be someone we can check in with along the way, etc. Tracy and I will be assisting each group as needed along the way. Each group will meet for a year to give them time to develop their rhythms and achieve goals.

Are you interested in being a part of this?

If you would like to participate, here’s the form to fill out:

To find out more information about our organization, including our goals and code of conduct, you can find them here: This link will take you to our GitHub page.

We’re also on social media so make sure to follow us there:

Now that the important part is out of the way, I can share some of the background behind how we got here, if you’re interested in that sort of thing…

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Posted in Professional Development, WIT

A Woman in SQL, 2021

March 5th was Data Platform WIT Day, a day of sessions by women in the data platform community. If you missed it, you can catch all of the sessions here. I had the honor of being part of the mentoring panel. I really enjoyed being on this panel with these women: Leslie Andrews (t|b), Gilda Alvarez (t), Deepthi Goguri (t|b), and Shabnam Watson (t|b) . All of us came here from different backgrounds and experiences and our careers have been affected in so many different ways from formal and informal mentorships.

Photo by @cowomen on Unsplash
Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

There is a phrase that Rie (Irish) Merritt (t) says often: “Lift as you climb”. (It’s in her Keynote from March 5th.) This about finding ways to bring women along as you build your career to help them build theirs. This is something that I believe in but I feel like I constantly fail short in. I want to be someone who doesn’t just “talk the talk” but also “walks the walk.”

I seem to get drawn into the topic of mentorship over the past couple of years so perhaps it’s a sign that this is an area where I can be useful and help other women in our industry. Maybe this is a way I can help “pay it forward”.

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Posted in Professional Development, WIT

Inspiration from the MA Conference for Women 2020

I was privileged to be able to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women on December 10, 2020. I went last year and was inspired from the moment I stepped foot in the convention center. (Here’s my blog post about that event.) I was curious to see what would happen this year when it was moved to a virtual event.

Starting my day at the conference

I think I got my answer watching the number of the keynote attendees steadily increase to over 10,000 in 10-15 minutes. Just seeing so many say hello and where they were from was incredible to watch.

I was hoping to catch most of the sessions in the week after the conference was over but I wasn’t able to. But I was able to catch a fair number of sessions as well as the two keynote sessions. I thought I’d share some of the quotes that inspired me and challenged me the most, along with some context when I can. Some of these just stand on their own.

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Posted in WIT

Thoughts for Women’s Month, 2020

Since I started this blog, I thought it was important that I have a blog post every March in honor of Women’s Month. My goal was to publish it on March 8th to coincide with Internal Woman’s Day. I’m a little bummed that I didn’t make that happen on that date this year but as long this gets published in March, I’m doing OK, right?

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Posted in WIT

Thoughts for International Women’s Day 2019

20180922_083834I took the following picture of the Code of Conduct prominently displayed at the SQL Saturday Boston held in September. As I was clicking away, a woman passing by shouted over to me, “It’s a shame we need one of those things…” It stopped me in my tracks because it wasn’t what I expected to hear. It really has stuck with me ever since. I was taking the picture because some events get criticized for not having a code of conduct at all and here we were – prominently displaying ours. Which we thought was a good thing. But it made me think a little more about that whether the pride was misplaced.

It seems to me that one of the biggest reasons for code of conducts, especially at tech events, is because of the harassment of women who have attended the event in various forms. Anti-harassment policies apply to everyone but women seem to have traditionally borne the brunt of the problems which have made them necessary.

Organizers of events are left to make the decision on how to handle those who have been accused of harassing others at their events either as speakers or just attendees. But when so many of the events are decentralized, even when they are under a large umbrella organization, I think it’s hard for organizers – especially newer organizers – to know who these people are. There’s no central reporting system to cross check to see if someone has been kicked out of a similar event for violation of code of conducts. Organizers are left to rely on the “rumor mill” where you have to get the story in front of the right people and you have to trust that it’s getting around correctly. And because it’s people passing along these stories, it starts becoming harder and harder to guarantee. We all remember the childhood game of “telephone”, right?

Then there’s reconciling the stories with seeing these same people who violated code of conducts still being included as speakers or members of special programs by vendors or community, etc. Then you have to ask why are those people there? Is it because those stories were ignored or is it because those involved never heard them in the first place? Or do those in charge not have proper guidance in how to handle these situations?

A code of conduct gives us a place a start. Although let’s face it, we shouldn’t have to tell adults how to behave appropriately and respectfully at professional events. But the other problem with a code of conduct is that they often only apply to specific events. Or at least on the scale that most groups use. How do we handle issues that arise after events – the indecent proposals at an informal, after event dinner? The “mansplaining” emails? The harassing tweets? If you aren’t privy to those, how do you as an organizer decide what to do? And how can it be clear that those actions outside the events play into people’s decisions to attend them at all? There are some women who have publicly said they won’t go to events if they see people speaking or attending who have harassed them or others. How do we create events where everyone feels safe, comfortable, welcomed, and valued if we don’t know and don’t have the means to take the appropriate steps?

There has to be something better than word of mouth to share this information. I hope there is more about how this does get handled than I know. If that’s the case, we should have more transparency into how this gets handled on a larger scale.

I feel I have a lot more questions than answers around this, unfortunately. All I can do is to try and speak up when I can and to encourage others to do the same. Writing and editing this post right now, I wonder what missed opportunities I have had to bring these issues up and worked towards a solution. It’s not always an easy task and I’m not perfect so I just need to continue to work to be better. I can also do more to support those who do a better job of educating others and actively work on solutions to these problems on the larger platform than what I have.

When I started this blog almost 3 years ago, I decided I wanted to have a post for every International Women’s Day. I am a Woman in Technology so I think it’s important to share my thoughts about it since we all have our shared and differing experiences. I’ve always wondered if I’ve been too optimistic in my past posts. What I love about #sqlfamily and the SQL Server community is that they truly are dedicated to supporting WIT activities. (And we should strive to be this supportive for all of those who are underrepresented.) We are a diverse community and I believe that the vast majority of our community supports and celebrates that. That’s why I’m very optimistic about our little #sqlfamily corner of the tech world and I feel like that’s why I can focus on the support that’s given in our community rather than the problems. I can’t and don’t pretend issues don’t exist but I have hope that we have the tools and desire to make it better.

Back to the code of conduct – I agree with the attendee that it is a shame that they are needed. But it’s that first public step organizers can take to remind everyone that they are expected to act professionally and respectfully at all events. And, more importantly, inappropriate behavior and actions have consequences.

Posted in WIT

Thoughts for International Women’s Day 2018

It’s International Women’s Day. I wrote about this topic last year and looking back, I think what I said stays true. I was worried when I wrote it that I was being too positive and glossing over some of the problems that still exist. But that’s who I am – someone who always takes the optimistic point of view. (Cue Monty Python…)

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