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Just say No!

Hitting a ceiling? Take the stairs.

By Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Images One reason I love working in healthcare IT (as I've been doing for the past year with a client) is that meetings with potential customers are almost all women.  My male client is often the only guy in the room or on the con call.  Luckily, he actually - sssshhh - prefers dealing with strong women, since we get things done.  Terrific! 

However, this female dominance in healthcare IT stems from a not-so-terrific reality - the historically limited career path of nursing.  Nurses have always been the heart of healthcare operations, and as IT has become integral to those operations, they progressed into new roles. And, Doctors hate to, guess what?  That left IT wide open.  

Instead of trying to break the glass ceiling, the nurses went out the side door and came back up the stairs.  Sorta the "stealth" method of career advancement. 

Yet, a lot of people still ask "Where are the women in IT?"  Certainly, males still dominate the high-techie, super-geek Silicon Valley firms...hmmm...maybe they should keep an eye on the stairs...

But, seriously.  I personally don't get too worked up over the "absence of women" in any area.  Of course, it's - well - dumb that only a small percentage of women are CEOs, or that there are so few (good) women political candidates. 

It's still a man's world, rather we like it or not. However, we have to remember that as recently as the 1960s women got sent home for wearing slacks. As recently as the 1970s, we couldn't get a loan without a male co-signer.  And, as recently as the 1980s, we could have our car insurance cancelled when we divorced because "everyone knows women aren't as good a drivers." (As my agent told me, in 1987).  Then there was the mechanic who smilingly said, "Women can't drive stick." (to me, in 1999!  GRRRRrrrr)  And, what the Hell was all that with Scalia, women and the Constitution??? Then there are the women who travel all over the country, write books, and work the media circuit...telling other women they should stay home and let the big, smart man run things. (This is a level of cognitive dissonance I normally don't reach until my third martini!) 

Okay,  I lied just a wee bit.  I can get all worked up - if I think about it.  But, the more I dwell on the unfairness of it all, the less time I have to actually make a difference.   And, where is it written that anything HAS to be fair?  Life certainly isn't; it's what you make of it, good or bad. 

Here's the the thing - the role of women is evolving.  That means time.  Personally, I don't think the answer - in 2011 - is imposing quotas for hiring, event participation, or promotion. This puts us in the "special treatment" category - as in, "they're not quite good enough, but we'll smile and pretend."  Patronizing much? Insert all the arguments and prejudices against Affirmative Action here...(I do believe AA was much needed when implemented.  Forget glass ceilings, people couldn't even get in the door.)

We all have to just.keep.going...and occasionally take the stairs. (Of course, we may have to build the staircase first...)  Whaddaya think?

P.S.  Above image is from Inception, nominated for best picture. The only thing I found puzzling about the movie is that some people were puzzled about the movie.  Seemed pretty easy to follow to me.  But then, I'm a woman.  We've got four times the connections between the left and right brain as a man...and I've probably read way more sci-fi than is healthy.  If you've not seen the movie - I recommend it for popcorn time this weekend. 


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When I was in Uni there was only a woman in the programming class. There are more women in other classes like IS, Modelling, Design. I am still not sure why there aren't many women in coding classes.
Inception is great movie, by the way.

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