As many of you know, I spend way too much of my time in the ballet world. My daughter Maya is one of the most passionate dancers I have seen during the last 8 years of her life twirling and leaping everywhere she goes. Needless to say, the idea of attending So You Think You Can Dance at the Warfield in San Francisco last night was yet another event to grin and watch Maya's enjoyment while I wished I was relaxing at home after a busy week.
I was so wrong.
Ballet is about precision and it is about being the right "type". Ballerinas are between 62 and 67 inches, they weigh next to nothing, they look a certain way; they move a certain way. Deviate from this way and you are not considered "serious" about dance. We (as ballet moms) watch our daughters go through puberty, their growth and body type change and it is not something that can be controlled - genetics kicks in. They grow into beautiful and amazing women but the ballet community begins to reject the ones they used to embrace as unable to be professional dancers.
Why am I telling you this?
It got me thinking about women in tech. We look at those women who have "made it" as leaders in technology. They are a certain type. Typically born of privilege, the right schools, the right "look", the right mannerisms. I know, I have spent more time with them than I have with the ballerinas.
But here I was, at So You Think You Can Dance. My favorite dancer, Jasmine, is nearly 6 feet tall at 70 inches, she towers over her partner, she doesn't look like a "ballerina" although her technique is clearly ballet but she has this style I have never seen before in a dancer. She has taken dance and made it her own. I began to look at the other dancers and sure enough, most of these dancers would never be in professional ballet but they were better than most ballet performances I have seen.
My point. We need to take our love of technology and make it our own. We need to find a stage where we can be what we are passionate about and we will shine. The research shows that if you can't see it, you can't be it. It is time we start showcasing women who embody the love of technology in their own way so that we can embrace our own trajectories. Let's face it, not all of us want to be the executive of a multi-national tech company and even if we do, we don't want to assume "the look" of those who are already there.
So, thank you Maya for dragging me to this show. And thank you Jasmine for reminding me of a very important lesson. We all deserve to be where we thrive, we just need to find it. That is what Global Tech Women is all about.
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