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I’m a woman in IT but I’m a white middle-class woman in a white middle-class city. This gives ma a lot of privilege. I am grateful for the now common usage of the term privilege. It’s tough being a female techie who has experienced little more than occasional, garden variety, every-day sexism. I have had co-workers try to call me out, ask me for examples of sexism I’ve experienced. I became their proof that sexism did not exist in IT. My claims that I was merely one of the fortunate few fell on deaf ears.

Sexism exists. It manifests itself in different ways for different people. I don’t need to prove that sexism exists. That is an established fact. I wast to discuss ways a person with privilege can make change.

  • sharing my knowledge where I can
  • when I discover a cool resource, find the funding or required resources to help get it into the hands of the people who need it.
  • curriculum – diversity, inclusiveness, common respect, code of conduct
  • code of conduct in the workplace
  • influence education and policy
  • set an example of respect every day

To be sure, I must do more research into the stories and backgrounds of other women. I can only support them best by knowing them, knowing their stories, asking what their needs are. There’s lots to be done, but I consider it my privilege to try.

This post was written as part of a writing exercise at the Write/Speak/Code conference held in Portland, OR, August 23-26, 2017. It’s not as polished as I would like, but I wanted to get it up and posted right away.

Special thanks to Anna Watt, my editor and blog-buddy!

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Before an exam, a competition, or a performance, we always say, “Good luck”. But what has luck got to do with it? A bit, I suppose. It’s lousy if you have to do something well on a day when you are sick, or got a flat tire on the way in. But is that enough to make or break you if you’re really well prepared? If you’re doing it right, it really shouldn’t be.

If you know your stuff, you shouldn’t need luck. So, when I’m wishing my students luck, am I implying that they need it to make up for their lack of ability? When I wish them luck I feel like I’m undercutting all of their hard work, telling them that I don’t actually believe in them, so here’s some extra luck. Maybe it will help since nothing else has. I know that’s not the traditional colloquial meaning of the phrase, but that’s where my very literal brain goes with this.

There’s another expression I’ve heard over the years, “Luck is for the unprepared”. Very true, and really the basis of this post, but it is hardly something encouraging to say to someone who is about to put their all into performing some complex task for a critical audience. So here’s my conundrum. I need a simple phrase that shows my faith in the recipient, that is encouraging, uplifting to them, and encourages proper practice and preparation.

The answer came at a Highland dance competition. I was recently volunteering at a high stakes event and was in the position to be a fly on the wall and watch the dancers prepare for their performances. As each dancer went through their paces to get warmed up, costumes perfect, shoes tied with precision, practicing a tricky technical step, it all fell into place.

There is luck, I’ve had it. I’ve been in the right place at the right time. A timely answer or the right helpful person has been right there when I needed them. I’ve had a bad day getting to some performance or test, but kept my head in the right place and just took it all in stride and conquered it all. But is it truly luck? These episodes of luck have happened largely because I had already been putting plenty of thought and energy into the topic. One’s senses become attuned to anything that has to do with the subject at hand so when the slightest related thing is present it is so much easier to notice it and do something with it. Thorough preparation and a strong attitude have been my good luck. The dancers around me worked hard for their success. They, certainly, did not depend on luck.

So here’s a new maxim for you: Be prepared, luck will follow.

One of the best parts of summer is finding time to read again. I’ve never been one for non-fiction but I’ve happened across several biographies of women in tech and haven’t been able to put them down. This one almost literally fell into my lap. I was at my local library recently to pick up a book I had reserved. Now this library has quite cleverly placed a shelf of new acquisitions right next to the shelf of pickups. When I stopped to scan the shelf for my book this one caught my eye and I just had to have it. I read it over the weekend and loved it.

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to MarsRise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

I enjoyed this book because it feels like a part of my own history. While I don’t do anything as exciting as calculating rocket trajectories and the paths of space probes as they travel the solar system, I am a computer programmer. The book deals with the women who did the mathematical calculations for the engineers of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Computers play a very small role in this book and only near the end of the book. For me this is a book showcases a small chapter of our feminist history, but also a story of the journey to leave our planet, two topics that excite and inspire me.

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When I finished the book I was feeling pumped up and ready to tackle outer space myself. This is a long-standing quest of mine, one that will most likely never come to pass. BUT – What if I turn this zeal to the pursuits I can accomplish – how amazing could I become. Let’s hear it for the books that inspire us!

Getting my geek on – Tara.

Welcome to the soft launch of my new blog. If you’re looking at this post, you’ll probably also notice that I left the WordPress welcome post. That’s the post that says, “Hey welcome! Here are some links to stuff to get you started”. So I’m supposed to delete that post but I’m not going to. I think the purpose of this blog will be to muck about with blogs, see how they work, try out different blog features, that sort of thing. In the spirit of blogging for it’s own sake, I think it is appropo to leave the instructional entry just where it is.

So while I’m here I will mess around with the blog itself and also try to comment on other geeky pursuits. I’m hoping to learn about the blogging, explore the many bloggy features available, and challenge myself in some other creative ventures. Most notably, I want to learn to code for hand-helds. If I’m putting this all in writing it might be the incentive I need to get off my duff and actually write some code. Finally, since “geek” is not exclusively a technology based term, I will write randomly about some of my other geeky pursuits. It’s my blog, I can do what I want.

Getting my geek on – Tara.

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.