A little bit of girl power

So we’ve talked about my new office nemesis… well not really nemesis… she’s got nothing on me… more an irritating fly hovering round my picnic! But today I saw the benefits of fellow like minded females working together, albeit from thousands of miles away! See, my organisation is part of a global one and we’re trying to get our UK ship in order, hence I got hired.

I was delighted today to have a conversation with a fellow Female Data Architect in the same organisation who works thousands of miles away on the other side of the equator but is equally as passionate about doing the job properly as I am and it was incredibly refreshing. I often work alone… like an assassin in the night tinkering away at designs and governance, doing my thing before it gets to the board and they hopefully say yes, then the real fun work begins of actually guiding the guys through making it. I’m normally the witch at the front of the battle march as I guide my general through the rocky terrain of data delivery, scoping out the unknowns with my mind so that when battle commences we return triumphant with something that works and we release it into prod.

The intuition is the mystery I own as they deal with the here and now and I forecast and plan and consider how the landscape of the data we design will change over time so that what I design is adaptable and built to last.

Today I met my equal, the fellow data witch on the other side of the planet who faces the same issues, deals with the same obstacles of not knowing and having to predict and consider and plan for all possibilities. I realised I’m not so alone in this male dominated world, and whilst girls like us are rare in this role, when you get one you can be damned sure she’s doing a bloody good job. It was great to share ideas with someone who actually saw the benefits of using a variety of techniques, wasn’t just another Hadoop ‘fan boy’ jumping on the train to be the best at the tech. Instead she’s practicing her art and applying her knowledge to come up with something that works and isn’t just wizzy and shiny but falls over as soon as it hits system integration testing.

So what is it that we women offer in these roles? The wise one offers pragmatism, the ability to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. I often find we’re more open to ideas and not just running off on some ego trip of who built it faster, who built it bigger or who made it the most complex. Perhaps because we’re not blinded by testosterone quite so much as the boys we are more holistic in how we solve problems, more willing to stop and think rather than jumping in with our swords at the first sign of trouble.

This is what I’m talking about, girls in technical roles supporting the others regardless of gender and lifting them up so they can be at their best. Girls who know the struggles of having to jump those extra hurdles to prove that the innie bearer can be just as good if not better than he of the outie. Perhaps it’s the inner mothers in us that makes us want to nurture our work, plan it carefully to see it grow over time rather than trying to constantly create that Big Bang of change with catastrophic effects of it doesn’t work out.

We wear makeup and we look damned good in heels but it’s just a mask to make the power of the brain inside more approachable perhaps, that scary brain with ideas that might just change the world one day. The benefits of the witch at the helm on your ship is that she can play all the roles if she’s comfortable in how she uses her powers. She can navigate, she can plan, she can fix, she stays positive even in the storm. We lead in a way that doesn’t scare the men, we lead in a way that motivates the troops.

Today was a day when I felt less alone, in a world full of men who loose their heads at the first sign of trouble, with their hair on fire as the production environment burns to the ground, we’re here in the background keeping it together till we’ve put out every last fire and try to make sure we plan so there isn’t another one…

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