Who do you represent?

Chris pointed me at this cartoon as a comment to my It's not about not offending post and I keep finding myself looking at it. 


I almost always feel like I'm representing a group – if not more than one group. When we lived in Alaska, I represented Caucasians. When we lived in Spain, I represented all Americans. When I go to software conferences, I represent all women. When I go to software conferences in Europe, I represent women and Americans. Talk about pressure to do a good job! It's probably not true that I'm always representing all those groups, but I really feel the responsibility to do a good job for everyone I represent, not just myself.

I have a friend who turned down a promotion to management partially because she realized that all women were being promoted out of technical positions and she was worried there would be no technical female role models left. (Which as a manager who'd been promoted out of a technical position, immediately made me feel guilty!)

It's good to know I'm not alone in feeling that I represent my cohorts. For my part, I'm going to try to think of people more as individuals and less as representatives of their various groups.

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8 Replies to “Who do you represent?”

  1. It’s a good comic; it makes you think about the way you look at groups and what you use to base your image on.
    Realising every now and then that everyone, even you, have prejudices is a good thing, and something of vital importance in an international environment.
    So thank you for this post!

  2. > she was worried there would be no technical female role models left.
    I LOVE this! That company needs to create a technical position/ladder to recognize and reward this wisdom!

  3. I’ve known for a while that the use of speech recognition in education has been seriously underfunded relative to its proven cost/benefit ratio, but looking at the problem in terms of gender inequity has really focused in on the problems. Like many problems in software, it has to do with a patent. But what’s the solution? What are the steps to the solution? Is contacting the government responsible for the patent a good first step? What’s a good second step? How can we get more women involved in using open source speech recognition technologies to teach reading, speech, and other subjects. I feel like tossing everything at Wikipedia’s strategy process and hoping some of it sticks might not be the best idea.

  4. I feel the same, Stormy. Always representing. I, too, turned down a management position in order to remain in tech for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to remain a woman who techs (hrm, back to that always representing thing…)

  5. oh and the answer for the question, If I’m going to a conference on behalf of a project I would represent that project, that means all the hackers (female and male), code, h/w, ideas…..

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