On the fourth Wednesday of each month, the Women in Technology Virtual Chapter of PASS has its monthly conference call to discuss and plan upcoming WIT activities, be it SQL Saturday WIT panels or the WIT luncheon at the annual PASS Summit. To help promote women in technology, I’m declaring the fourth Wednesday of each month “WIT Wednesday” here at the Cleveland DBA.
WIT Spotlight: Erin Stellato
This month we’re talking to the newest member of SQLSkills.com: Erin Stellato (b | t). Erin and I are members of the same local PASS chapter, and her advice and support has been invaluable as I’ve worked to establish myself in the SQL Community. She’s a stellar example of what #sqlfamily means.
There’s a lot of talk these days about getting girls and young women to enter – and stay – in technology careers. As parents, what can we do to encourage more girls to enter STEM fields?
This question generates two thoughts… First, I think it’s incredibly important to encourage females to enter STEM fields, but I think it’s also important to recognize that not every female will be interested in said fields. As someone who loves technology, it’s naïve of me to think that my daughter will as well, just because I do. I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t be supportive and encouraging, but realize that 100% of young women will not want a technology career.
That said, for those that are interested, or haven’t made up their mind, I think the most important thing adults can do is engage in technology with young girls. It reminds me of what Kevin Kline said at the Women in Technology lunch at the PASS Summit earlier this month. “Come in and sit next to me, for I have known goodness.” If young women see what we are excited and passionate about, because we sit down and show them, and help them, it carries tremendous weight. In those moments we are not just teaching girls about technology, we are also showing them what we think of it, how it inspires us, and how it’s not something of which to be ashamed. It’s not enough to buy my daughter a LeapPad or an InnoTab, Legos or some Tinker Toys, I need to sit down with her and build and play.
How has the transition been to working from home? What advice can you share with someone looking to make that switch?
It’s hard to separate out the transition to working from home from the transition to the new job because they’re so intertwined! I gave working from home a lot of thought. I knew that I would need a dedicated space, that I would need to be disciplined about my time, and that I would be spending a lot of time alone. Initially I did not have dedicated space and that was a struggle. But once I got my desk set up, it completely fell into place. For anyone who works from home, you absolutely need your own area – ideally one where you can close a door.
I am still sorting out my work time. When my kids are at school the hours fly by, and I am very focused during that time. At first I would work after my kids got home from school, but then I realized that I wasn’t spending time with them. Now when they’re home, they are my focus. When they go to bed, then I can work again. But it took a while for me to reconcile no longer working the “normal” hours of 9-5. However, I think I’m a lot more effective working in smaller chunks of time.
As for so much time alone…I really like it. It is nice to have time in my house, by myself, even if I’m working. Some days I don’t turn on the radio, it’s just complete silence. For anyone who is looking to switch to working from home, I recommend thinking about the phrase, “working remotely.” It has a different meaning, to me, than working from home.
Working remotely means that I don’t go into an office (ever) and I rarely see my co-workers. I thought about this a little bit beforehand, but I underestimated how important it was to me to talk to my colleagues on a regular basis. It’s great to see people face-to-face, but the real value is the conversation and dialog. Once I realized this, it was easy to remedy. I set up regular calls and WebEx sessions with different people on the team, I know that I can call if I ever need to, and now I’m in a much better place. I value my time working alone, and I feel like I am extremely productive, but I still need to interact with people over more than just email.
So far, what’s been the best part of working at SQLSkills.com? The toughest?
Do I have to pick one best thing? I work with an amazing group of individuals. That is the best thing about my job. They are the best at what they do. I appreciate that I can reach out to them as needed, asking for a review of an article or blog post, or an opinion on a client problem. And they are people that I would like even if I didn’t work with them, which is even better. Our team has a lot of fun, and I don’t take that for granted. I think it’s a gift to work with people that you like as much as you much respect.
As for the toughest part…I would have to say it’s been the transition to working remotely, which I mentioned before and balancing my time. When your office is in your house, it’s easy to spend many hours in front of a computer. I’m still sorting out that balance.
You’ve come a long way since attending your first SQL Server conference in 2007. What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I would like to present internationally. I’ve presented at the PASS Summit the past two years and hope to present there again, but I would like to take it to the next level.
I’ve talked about getting my MCM before, and although that certification is changing slightly, it’s still a goal for me.
I haven’t defined any other goals yet, and I’m ok with that. The last half of 2012 has brought great change for me, and I’m letting myself settle into where I am now before I decide what’s next. I am very happy with where I am today. It doesn’t mean I’m resting, or that I’m not always striving to improve, but deciding what’s next is big. I’m not quite there yet.
In the movie of your life, who would be cast in the title role?
This question makes me laugh When I was in college I lived with seven friends in a huge house on Arbor street, and we often joked about “when they make a movie of our lives.” So I’m sticking with who I picked back then, many years ago: Elizabeth Shue.
Must-see WIT TV
Some of you (hopefully most of you) just attended the PASS Summit and I’m sure you returned home inspired and full of ideas of how to do your job more effectively. I know conferences have that effect on me; they recharge my battery and get me fired up again, like a SQL Server B-12 shot. Hopefully the Summit inspired you to do something else, too: get up there and present. There are some awesome speakers at the Summit, and they certainly know their stuff, don’t they? But you know what? They’re just like you. Once upon a time they were brand new speakers and probably full of the same uncertainties you’re feeling. It’s not easy to stand in front of a room of strangers and teach them. They’ll ask questions you’re not prepared for. They’ll challenge your knowledge of the topic. That’s ok; it will help you learn. And the next time you present, you’ll be better prepared.
So this month, in addition to a video, I’m featuring some sites to help you prospective speakers, you women especially, to get out there and start speaking.
- How I Got 50% Women Speakers at My Tech Conference
- We Are All Awesome!
- Technical Women – It’s conference submission season! (From Summit speaker Lynn Langit)
- Live Your Talk and the blog
The video is from Women Who Tech‘s 2010 Telesummit (skip forward to about 2:30).
Interested in supporting women in technology?
- Go to the WIT website and check out all the resources, blogs and coming events
- Follow @PASS_WIT and #passwit on twitter
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the WIT mailing list; you’ll also receive invitations to the monthly call
- Participate in the monthly call
- Attend WIT panels at SQLSaturday events
- Attend the WIT luncheon at the PASS Summit