Two 12-hour days of FREE SQL Server Training sponsored by PASS and Dell were held last week on March 15-16, 2011. The theme was “Celebrating Women in Technology” and all 24 speakers were women from the SQL Server global community. Kudos to Lynn Langit (twitter | blog) for suggesting the women of PASS were more than capable of tackling this endeavor and to Thomas LaRock (twitter | blog) and the rest of the PASS board for supporting this initiative.
Since I have recently organized a local SQLSaturday to which only 3 women (in addition to me) even submitted sessions to speak, I was very keen to see how this event would turn out. And, I have to say from my perspective as a moderator for one session and as an attendee for at least 10 of the 24 sessions, it was a great success. I knew it was a success in the community when late in the first day, I saw that a male attendee tweeted after listening to 11 sessions he just then realized all the speakers had been women!
Sure, some of the presenters for 24HOP have spoken at PASS before, but for quite a few it was their first time presenting to a global audience. And, to make it difficult – they couldn’t see the audience as this was a webcast event.
All of the sessions which I attended were very well done and were exactly what I expected based on the abstracts. Sure there were a few technical glitches here and there, but those would happen regardless of the gender of the presenter. Bottom line is that the content delivered was very, very good…. and did I mention it was FREE!
I have to confess that every year when the PASS Summit speakers are announced, one of the first things I do is go count the number of women speakers selected. Why? I suspect because back in 2000 when I was first selected as a speaker, it just jumped out at me that I was in a minority at PASS (especially among the speakers) although in the DBA team where I worked women were the majority at the time. The number of women speakers has been increasing, but is it where it should be? I’m not saying a woman should be chosen over a man. I honestly think the main reason that women are under-represented is because, in general, they don’t submit to speak and don’t promote themselves. The 24HOP featuring Women in Technology provided positive exposure for this segment of our community. I suspect the job of the program committees just got harder if these women (and more) will continue to pursue presentation opportunities as the total pool of very good speakers will increase; and just by having more women submit to speak, more will be chosen to speak.