Thursday, January 18, 2018

I'm an awesome tester who also happens to be woman

At a test automation conference, I started talking with another participant. We exchanged details of the craft through name dropping and content appreciations. We talked about his upcoming talk, and I shared some ideas on the same topic. Excited on the discussion we were having, he decided to suggest I could do a lightning talk in the evening.

It was great that he suggested - I was not aware there was one, let alone that I could still get listed and that the voting was going on throughout the day. I immediately made up my mind.

But he continued: "we need women speaking".

I said nothing, more like shrugged. But decided to address it when speaking.

I introduced myself. I shared that I was here doing a lightning talk because another participant encouraged me to so that there would be women speaking. Needless to say, I was the only woman on the lightning talks round. I also mentioned that while it feels that my main reason to be here would be my gender, I'm here just as a person with credentials: that this is talk number 353 that I'm delivering, and that Kent Beck said yesterday he loved my book. I made a joke about it, because it was a better option for feeling uncomfortable than being silent about it.

After the talks, I talked again with the other participant. He apologized and invited ideas of how he could have better expressed his excitement on what I had potential on sharing. I suggested that reminding me on my gender (any woman on their gender) could be a pattern to avoid. They're already painfully aware.

The conference had no women in organizing committee.
There was one woman speaker out of 9 talks.
There were LOTS of women in the audience.

There's no absolute "best" in speakers. Speakers tell stories that are based on the life lived. We need diverse voices. What I said today to open my lightning talk was something that just happened to me: all three details on my 'credentials'. I bet no one encouraged any of the men in a gender-based fashion.

I make lists of awesome testers. Notice the list never mentions "awesome women testers". Because the qualifier of gender isn't relevant. They are awesome, just as they are. Yet looks like no one can share and promote that list without mentioning gender.