May 20th, 2011
What a shame that there was only one woman speaking. Isn’t it a pity? Why couldn’t the sponsors do more? Blah, blah, blah.
Well personally, I’m glad. …I mean… I’m not exactly *glad*…. I do my part organizing Railsbridge events (time for another one in Boston, eh?) and putting together a bi-monthly study group and encouraging any woman who shows interest to pursue one of the best careers in the world.
But I’m happy to have been in the super minority at my very first railsconf this year. Know why? Because….
I STICK OUT
Ladies! You have a unique opportunity to stick out in a sea of men who are themselves fighting to differentiate themselves from each other.
And you get to see (and I’m stealing this from @sandimetz) the “Secret Life of Boys”. What they do when they are amongst themselves and let their hair down. Their truly geeky, silly, wonderful selves who are at their core more insecure than we are.
Yes, there should be more women at the conference. Yes, it would be a better world if tech were less male and more balanced. But instead of lamenting about the women who are not there, rejoice in the fact that YOU are there. And you STICK OUT.
I LOVE sticking out! I do it on purpose! I wear lipstick every day and I’m not afraid to introduce myself and start a conversation with anyone around me and I believe in myself and my technical abilities and I’m happy to talk honestly with you about it.
Sticking out makes me AWESOME. It’s only one of the reasons I am awesome but I am not ashamed to proclaim my awesomeness. I have worked hard for many years to become awesome.
This week, @coreyhaines said “You have to practice to be awesome”. So true. It takes practice.
Notice he didn’t say it takes mad development skillz to be awesome. Mad development skillz do not make you awesome.
What I mean to say is, everybody is practicing to be awesome. And yes, it’s important to build your skillset to be taken seriously in this crowd. But don’t let your perceived lack of mad development skillz deter you from participating. It’s only through participating with others that you build on your skillset and become an awesome developer.
Sure, it helps to have contributed important work to open source at an event like this. But that’s not necessarily what distinguishes you in a crowd of people who are all mostly uber technical and trying to prove to anyone who will listen to them blather on and on about the importance of testing, how awesome they are.
Sticking out gets you noticed. It is awesome to be noticed because you end up making connections that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And ladies, even if you are not trying to… you stick out. Embrace that! Take advantage of that!
Guess what? The ruby on rails community is full of guys trying to be awesome. These guys want to see you succeed. Because that’s awesome!
Don’t be afraid to talk to them. They are more afraid of talking to you! And they want so desperately to talk to you. And to help you. And to support you. They really do. But they need you to make the first move.
It is NOT awesome to melt into the background.
It is NOT awesome to hang out only with your coworkers.
It IS awesome when you introduce yourself to the someone sitting next to you.
It IS awesome to venture over to bohconf and ask someone you don’t know a question.
(And that advice goes to some of you guys as well.)
TO BE AWESOME,
YOU NEED TO BE YOURSELF.
But you need to be the super you. Not the shy you but the happy you. The you that you are when you are relaxed with your closest friends. And guess what? That you is enough.
I spent years and years in New York trying to be what agents and casting directors and Broadway legends want me to be. That was FUCKED UP. Because to be a success in life, all I needed to be was myself.
If you decide to chuck coding and become a professional actor. This is the lesson you will hear time and time again:
You are ENOUGH
Please let that sink in a little as I shout that at you again.
YOU ARE ENOUGH
Just as you are right now, you are awesome. You are awesome if but for the mere fact that you are one of a mere 2.7% who came to railsconf and you stick out. THAT IS AWESOME!