Sadukie on WiT and Diversity for the Sake of Diversity

After some recent discussions on personal branding, I realized that some people don’t get me.  Some people don’t understand just who I am and what I am about.  So let me tell you a bit about who I am and where I stand on things.

Who I Am

  • I am a geek.  I love tech, and I’m not afraid to admit it or show my love for it.  I blog, speak at conferences, appear on podcasts, wrote a book, and continue eat/sleep/breathe tech.  I’m also married to a geek, so to say that I live surrounded by tech is an understatement.
  • I am still ever-curious about things in the tech realm – wanting to play and explore with .NET Core on Linux and also looking into the security world, especially looking at AppSec.
  • I love sharing information and learning from others.
  • I am all about the community – participating when I can, leading, growing it, and fostering it as best as I can.
  • I have a wonderful group of people close to me who I consider mentors, friends, and like family.  They have been supportive of me throughout my career – from my early days continuing through today.  I am blessed to be collaborating with such an amazing group.
  • My life’s accolades and successes (as well as failures and tribulations) are due to the work I’ve done, the effort I’ve put in… my gender and background does not factor into this.
  • I only mentor people who are in this field for similar reasons – curiosity for tech, wanting to grow in their tech career, wanting to get involved in the community.  If the passion for tech isn’t there, I am not the right mentor for you.

What I Am Not and Some Dislikes

  • I am not a poster child for the women in tech movement or diversity in tech.  Absolutely not… because…
  • I don’t like the exclusivity of those movements.  I don’t like seeing WiT and diversity events filtering out their attendance to be geared strictly for those demographics.
  • I also don’t like the discrimination that comes out with the movements.  Diversity scholarships and scholarships for particular demographics are used to lure people into the field – seemingly promoting diversity for the sake of diversity.
    • I am for merit-based scholarships – give the scholarships to those who show the interest and willingness to go the distance for the field, regardless of gender/creed/age/hot demographic of the moment.
  • I do not play the gender card to grow in my career.  My gender does not define who I am all the time, especially not in my career.
    • Yes, I’m a wife, mom, sister, aunt, niece, daughter, goddaughter… lots of feminine roles there.
    • Yes, I do things like sometimes read Cosmo magazine and used to watch Sex and the City.  Yes, I can totally relate to Carrie Bradshaw’s random questions at the beginning of the episodes.
    • No – none of these things impact how I approach tech.
  • That said, I don’t like it when people think they should play my gender card for me.  Did I mention – I am not a poster child for these movements?
  • When it comes to conferences that I support, I urge the organizers to steer clear of diversity for the sake of diversity and to choose the best content for their events, to put out the best event possible.  Do not sacrifice the quality of the event for the sake of diversity.

Conclusion

Yes, I am a woman – and as my husband reminded me, I’m a woman phenomenally.  However, I am getting tired of people telling me that I need to get involved in the Women in Tech movement more and urge more women and minorities in the field, especially when that’s not how I operate.  I want to see more people in the field – but I don’t care about their race/creed/gender.  I want to see more people who are passionate about tech and want to have fun learning, people who are respectful of each other, people who are all about collaborating to help grow each other’s careers as well as the community.

Overspecialize, Generalize, or Find that Happy Middle…

I’ve been dealing with this dilemma for the past couple years. While I’ve had a Microsoft MVP award for Visual C# these past couple years, I’ve wondered if I’ve gone too generalized to have it renewed this year. We’ll find out in July if that’s actually true. Even if that’s true, I’m still going to be on that mission – to find the happy middle between overspecializing and generalizing.

Add to it that I saw this tweet, and it really has me thinking:

The key to being a programmer today and in the future. Don’t over specialize, don’t stop learning, stay close to your customer.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

For me, I don’t want to go down the road of overspecializing. I’d feel like that guy who painted himself into the corner of the room, trapped. However, I don’t want to be too general, because while it’s helpful being a jack of all trades, it’s also hard to see where it’s best to place me, which projects are best to utilize my skillset. I’d like to be the master of some, not the master of none. In a way, I want to be kinda like my Microsoft MVP expertise of Visual C# – I want to be useful on many types of projects.

Visual C# is my current expertise area, but I also am dabbling with PowerShell. The beauty of it all, though, is that I am using Visual C# while playing with PowerShell – how do you think my custom cmdlets are written? If you’re in the Cleveland area on April 26th, I can show you some custom cmdlets at the Cleveland C#/VB.NET SIG. You can also see some of my custom cmdlets in appendix D in Automating Microsoft® Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration with Windows® PowerShell 2.0.

That’s not the only time I use Visual C# though. In my day job, I work on ASP.NET websites, web applications, out-of-browser Silverlight apps – all with Visual C# as their base. I’m working with ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET WebForms, which I use with Visual C#. Here at home, I play with Windows Phone development, and that too… written in Visual C#. I also write web services – be it ASP.NET Web Services or WCF – in Visual C#. Writing Windows Forms and WPF applications… those are also done in Visual C#. It’s such a handy language, with a variety of applications.

Now granted there’s a lot of theory behind Visual C# and how it’s built. There are people who specialize in that, in how the compiler works, in how the language works under the covers. And then there are people like me – on the quest of finding the happy middle. While I would love to understand how its work under the covers, I really like seeing how it is applied in the field as well. Understanding how it works under the covers can give me a better background of why its strengths and weaknesses are the way they are, and it would help me play off of the strengths and weaknesses better in code. However, understanding how it is applied helps me to put Visual C# to work in my everyday business world and in my side projects.

I like tinkering with the many uses of the language to see how it can be used, and the same can be said with any other language I’ve worked with – the various VB derivatives (VB, VBA, VB.NET), python, and JavaScript being the more recent languages. I like the continuous exploration to see what I can find. I don’t want to stop learning, and I definitely don’t want to overspecialize. I hope I’ve found a happy middle, as it feels like I’m finally there.

Are you afraid of overspecializing? If you’re a developer who focuses mostly on web development, then take a step out of the norm and look into client app dev with WPF, make a game in XNA, or write a Windows Phone app! If you’re an IT pro who’s been siloed to focus on Exchange, you can start working with PowerShell for Exchange and then investigate other technologies that use PowerShell – such as SharePoint or Active Directory! Do something that you wouldn’t normally do, and make it a goal to learn at least one new technology a year, whether it applies to your job today or to possibly your career in the future!

Sadukie’s MVP Challenge – Update

I am super excited by the people that I’ve met out here so far at the 2011 Microsoft MVP Summit.  As noted in a past post, I am challenging MVPs here to meet other MVPs outside of their normal topics.  For me, being a developer type MVP, the challenge would be to meet an IT MVP.  Now granted, for me, it isn’t so much of a challenge… and here’s why.

Even though I’m a developer, I also have done IT in my past, and I also have the advantage of being married to a super smart IT guy (who wants to become an MVP as well).  So when I met Martina Grom, an Office365 MVP, a couple “Windows Server IT Pro” MVP guys, and Adam Jacobs, a Lync MVP, I had a good idea as to what they’re talking about and what it’s like in their realm.  My husband has been excited about Office365 and Lync for awhile, so it helped that his excitement was there and that he explained those products to me properly.  (Yes, Office365 is more than just Office in the cloud.  There are other services as well.)

I am hoping I can meet some of the PowerShell guys while I’m out here – we’ll see if I can figure out how to make that happen.  For me, that would be cool to bridge the gap between software development and IT in that realm.

Outside of the PowerShell guys, I’d love to meet other MVPs from other expertises as well.  The networking out here is amazing, and it’s an invaluable experience out here.  I’ll talk more about my adventures when I get more time.