The people who are organizing Your Team Needs Women have a good idea–diversity in teams. I have a problem with how they are doing it.
I have tried to contribute to the agile community, chairing the Agile 2009 conference, speaking at user groups, writing for a number of outlets, working with my clients. I do those things because I love my work. I don’t do them because I’m female. I provide a type of diversity, more because of my age and experience than my gender.
How many people in this field have been developers and testers? That’s a type of diversity I offer. As well as managing projects and programs. I’ve developed hardware/software projects and programs. Too few people have that type of work diversity.
Gender diversity is an obvious diversity. It’s not the most useful diversity. Personality diversity is even more important. (I described why in Hiring the Best…) The nomination even calls it out a little, in the sections about “support, promote and encourage” and empathy.
And, with what I read of the nomination, I am concerned that the nominations are looking for nurturing women. I hope not. I nurture my family, not my colleagues. I’m only my daughters’ mother. I’m not anyone else’s mother.
For me, this would be a fabulous award for *anyone*, not just women. In fact, showcasing men as empathic beings might bring more women into the field, but I doubt it.
The problem is that we need to talk to women when they are teenagers, not when they are in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s. When we help teenagers think about technology careers, that’s when we can get more women in the field.
Don’t get me wrong. I love recognition of people’s achievements. I was thrilled when Manage It! won a Jolt productivity award, and I still am thrilled. That award was for a book, not a woman-authored book.The playing field was open.
I would love to see this award open to every gender, not just women. When you take most of the constituency out of the equation, the award means less.
Do I think we need more women in software? Yes. Do I think this award will help? No. I’m not offended; I’m disappointed.
If we really want more women in software, some of us women must put on nice clothes and talk to the middle-schoolers, high schoolers, and maybe freshman and sophomores in university. That’s how we influence women to join the field. I volunteer for that.
Don’t just look for women. Don’t award or recognize just women. Look for people with a variety of work experience, life experience, and most importantly, personality diversity. That’s how you get a great agile team.