I attended my first PASS Summit over 10 years ago, back in 2003. It was a wonderful week, but as a newbie who knew no one there, I missed out on a lot of the fun. I attended the Tuesday night opening event, but I didn’t know about the majority of evening activities. I am really glad that PASS is now making a big effort to ensure that the “first timers” have a great experience.
That first year I attended lots of sessions. Two things stand out from the Summit in my memory: The SSRS announcements and the Women in Technology Luncheon. The WIT luncheon was lots of fun. It was great hearing from some women who had accomplished so much and were willing to share their experiences. Another interesting thing about that lunch is that the only men I noticed in the room were part of the convention center staff serving the lunch.
Each year, the WIT session grew with more people attending and eventually, not only including many men in the audience, but also on the panel. In 2013, there were actually two guys on the panel, Kevin Kline and Rob Farley. The recording is available here. The thing is, men have many of the same challenges that women have in IT such as improving negotiating skills and figuring out how to deal with responsibilities outside of work. Some of them also have daughters, and they want to find out what they can do to encourage their daughters to consider technology careers.
In 2009, I was honored to be part of the WIT panel at the Summit. I felt like I had finally made it in the SQL Server community. A few months later, John Magnabosco contacted me about the Indy TechFest event. He invited me to speak at the event and wondered if I would be interested in having a session with Jessica Moss modeled after the WIT Luncheons at Summit. Jessica and I both thought it was a great idea and the WIT Community Outreach, part of the PASS WIT Virtual Chapter, was born. Since then, I have hosted numerous WIT sessions at SQL Saturdays around the country. I have also coached others to organize WIT sessions as well. (To have me help in this way at your event, please fill out the contact form!)
The WIT Virtual Chapter has been around for several years. I would like to announce that PASS has its first physical WIT chapter. Windy Martin has organized the WIT chapter in Denver. This chapter is dedicated to supporting women in the SQL Server community in Denver. They hosted a kick-off party on April 9th, and the first regular meeting will be May 14th. I am very happy to announce that I will be the featured speaker at the first meeting!
My plan is to give a TED-like presentation. I’ll talk about how I got to where I am today and what I really think about being a woman in technology. After that session, we are going to have a discussion similar to the WIT sessions we have had at Summit and at SQL Saturdays in the US and around the world.
If you happen to be in the Denver area on May 14th, we would love to have you attend this inaugural meeting – and men are most certainly welcome to attend!