Save the girl talk
Look… I’ll be the first to sign up for a girls weekend to San fran to gab, grub and gab some more. [been there, loved it] the clothes, the shoes, the food, the lounges, the clubs, the SHOES.
The ladies though, do a disservice to our gender when we start bringing a few irrelevant topics to more gritty scenes. Like tech meetings or business panels.
We have a tough time as it is in these male dominated spheres, so why dig deeper holes for ourselves?
Women business executives, brilliant researchers, tech founders and software developers, scientists and athlete managers are just as serious about their craft as the next guy. So my frustration is heightened when I hear a female tech-founders panel moderated by someone asking questions like “Star wars or star trek?” and “Tell us if you’re married, or have children” [and then the moderator calling attention to the single women on the panel for any guys in the audience who might still be paying attention].
I tend to see opportunity in most things and so rather than whine, i thought of a few things for how we can all be better moving forward:
1. Your personal life is irrelevent….unless you’re on Dr. Phil. Moderators: I, the audience member, came to learn about how this woman, or women, tackled a major business hiccup, met a tech-founder, persuaded an angel to invest, or what resources were the most valuable as she scaled her business from the launch phase to the growth phase.
2. The “Balancing life and work” issue. I’ve never seen a tech panel of men who’ve been asked how they handle ‘work/life balance’ while they coded, or did biz dev, for 17 hours a day. I know this is a common topic amongst women, and it definitely has relevance for women more than men, but not when the audience is at an event to hear about how someone grew, started or sold their tech business.
3. Lose the “ums” and put your hair back if it’s in the way. I’m not asking for a Steve Jobs-like presentation, but lose the “ums”. or at least 37 of them. Speak to us with confidence, not arrogance and respect us as an intelligent audience who came to learn from your experiences. Oh, and we’re not in a bar trying to get a date with you. Casually brushing your hair around and finishing every sentence with a question mark doesn’t engage us, it revolts us. or, maybe just me.
At one event i attended, there were 3 men having a full conversation in the back of the room, near where I sat. This while the moderator continued through her discussion with the panelists. They exchanged smirks when the panel was prompted to talk about their marital status and what gadget they couldn’t do without if they were on a deserted island.
At first i was frustrated by their continuous banter. And, no I’m not about to excuse their rudeness. But I did realize, that that was just the by-product of them not taking the conversation happening in the front of the room seriously. And we have every ability, and responsibility, to learn from that and make it better next time.
*For a great talk on women in tech and business, watch Sheryl Sandberg. COO of Facebook, also named the fifth most powerful woman in the world.
Onward and upward, always.