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Kevin Kline

Good News for Women in Technology - Barbie Has Joined the IT Scene


Notice the bluetooth ear piece fashion faux pas? Yes, she's truly a geek. 
I'm happy to report that Barbie is now a cognizeti, a digerati, ... yes even an IT Professional! This year's new Barbie is Computer Engineer Barbie.

Several months back, I encouraged all my friends and followers on Twitter to vote for the IT job for Barbie in Mattel's recent public job selection for the eponymous doll.  That encouragement was founded in an experience I'd had years earlier - becoming a dad to a very beautiful baby girl.  When I was growing up as a kid, I clearly recall how odd it was for a woman to have a career outside of a handful of "traditional feminine jobs" like teacher, nurse, telephone operator or secretary.  It wasn't until years later, as a new dad, that I realized how asinine this preconceived notion really was (and, in fact, still is in many cultures around the world). I even wrote about this a few years ago in my personal blog, where I mentioned how I'd love to see my daughters grow up and take on an IT career.

Sadly, many IT professional societies report dramatic imbalances in gender demographics.  For example, the IEEE Computer Society reports that their membership is only 7% female. Similarly, universities in the USA shows about a 10% representation of female faculty and 14% of their students in computer-related majors. 

One of the things I'd always found to be rather amazing about PASS was it's strong emphasis on Women in Technology (WIT).  In fact, as far as database professional societies go, PASS was the first to work hard to make WIT prominent within its culture (although I believe that the International Sybase User Group had a WIT group before PASS).  I'd like to also give credit to the women within PASS who made this happen.  I can't even begin to list them all here, but without them, WIT at PASS would not have been possible.  A few women who immediately come to mind include Rebecca Laszlo, Kalen Delaney, Denise McInerny, Kathi Kellenberger, Stefanie Higgins, Lynda Rabb, Kimberly Tripp, and many many more.

All of these outstanding women deserve accolades for making PASS a welcoming place for women.  Don't think that it's a big deal?  You should attend an IT conference without a strong WIT community - you'll see the difference in 30 seconds flat.  (I'm not going to name any names here.  But attend the top conferences for certain IT companies headquartered in Redwood City, California or Armonk, NY and you'll see what I mean).

So, thank you ladies, for making PASS in particular and the overall Microsoft SQL Server community much better for everyone by making it better for women.  I hope to see this trend continue and for your contributions to continue to improve our community.

-Kevin

-Twitter @kekline

-More content at http://KevinEKline.com

Published Wednesday, March 10, 2010 10:34 AM by KKline

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KKline said:

Oh, and I'm shocked that there are people who are critical of Barbie because she's too fashion conscious.  What?!?  This is BARBIE after all.

Read more about that discussion here: http://mashable.com/2010/03/09/computer-engineer-barbie/.

March 10, 2010 12:45 PM
 

Denis Gobo said:

If anyone else is curious, the binary on Barbie's laptop spells "Barbie" in ASCII:

01000010 = 66 = B

01100001 = 97 = a

01110010 = 114 = r

01100010 = 98 = b

01101001 = 105 = i

01100101 = 101 = e

March 10, 2010 1:06 PM
 

Kalen Delaney said:

I feel very left out that I didn't make it onto your list. :-( I was on the original organizing committee for PASS and have been to every single one of the conferences. I was also one of those small fraction of females on the faculty of a major university. (UC Berkeley)

I wonder why Mattel felt like a Tech Barbie had to have glasses?

I saw a Tech Barbie years ago. One of the BOL writers at Microsoft had a Barbie on a shelf... the doll was sitting at a desk with a small computer. And next to the computer, was one of those tiny little post-it note pads, with the front page colored to look like book, and it clearly said: "Inside SQL Server" :-) It was Barbie Tech Writer!

March 10, 2010 1:19 PM
 

KKline said:

Sorry about that, Kalen.  Mia culpa.   In my 1st draft, I didn't call anyone out because I knew I'd miss folks AND I didn't have their twitter and blog addresses handy for those I did remember right off the cuff.

Love the Barbie Tech Writer story!  That's great.  =^)

Is there anyone else I'm not remembering?  Was Jacqui Borges active in helping you start the WIT group?

March 10, 2010 2:38 PM
 

merrillaldrich said:

An essay question to make your brain hurt: compare/contrast the feminist cultural implications of Seattle's own Librarian Action Figure ( http://www.mcphee.com/laf/ ) and Computer Engineer Barbie ( http://shop.mattel.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4032107 ). Which has super-human man-pleasing proportions? Why? Are they necessary? What about amazing push-button shushing action? And as Kalen said, what's the significance of their glasses - it can't be an accident that they both have them.

I'm just sayin'

March 10, 2010 2:47 PM
 

Kalen Delaney said:

I don't remember if Jacqui was still there when the WIT group started, but she was the original Microsoft liaison to PASS. On my way to my first board meeting, I sat next to her on the plane, and it took almost 15 minutes of chatting to figure out we were both going to the same place!

~Kalen

March 10, 2010 3:33 PM
 

Zack Jones said:

Well now I have something to ask Santa to bring me :).

March 10, 2010 4:02 PM
 

KKline said:

Wow, Merrill, that's a pretty neat!  She's a real person made into an action figure.  =^)

March 15, 2010 12:00 AM
 

Noravia Rodriguez said:

Hi All:

This is a very interest subject, and it is funny, at least I have not been lucky enough to get that opportunity within PASS. DO not know because a woman or because a Miami girl.

I think we need to start from inside, from our SQL Community.

I am a woman in IT for more than 21 years, dealing with databases and working with SQL since 1987, and at my job I am very recognized, and supported professional.

However can not say the same from PASS, this last year I left the conference stringly hurt, I joined PASS since 2005, had offered my help as volunteer since then, tried to create a SQL Server Group in Miami sponsored by PASS, but did not get the support I needed.

Meanwhile I am doing my on piece, I started speeching (not in the Real Academy yet, but a spanglish word) at Universities and started SQL Internship Team at Coity Of Miami, which provided job opportunities to the interns, specially at this hard economy time, and will be here always ready to provide my assistance to the community.

Sincerely

Noravia

March 15, 2010 1:41 PM
 

hgdvjsf said:

i love barbie! <3

August 20, 2010 12:35 PM

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About KKline

Kevin Kline is a well-known database industry expert, author, and speaker. Kevin is a long-time Microsoft MVP and was one of the founders of PASS, www.sqlpass.org.

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