I am continuing to delve into the whole women in technology conundrum (conundrum is one of my new favorite words). I am a woman, and I work in technology... the connection is there, right? And I do get that many of my female peers (more on that in a bit) are much gentler and more easily hurt than I am, so I respect that there's a need to calm things down and level the playing field. I get that. I've been over this side of the coin so many times, I have each groove memorized. This should be important to me because it affects me even if I don't feel all girly smooshy like other people do and don't actually find dirty jokes offensive.
But what about the other side of the coin? Actually it's probably some three-dimensional solid with X-number of sides where X equals all of the different aspects of the women in tech thing, rather that a 2-sided deal. What's on my mind today isn't the concept of changing tech to keep women once they're in it, it's getting them in it in the first place. Keeping women in any of the STEM fields is an issue for another day, and for people far above my pay grade. At my level, though, what can I do? Should I even try? Does it matter?
Well, yes. It does matter. It matters to Debbie Sterling, the creator of GoldieBlox, toys geared towards piquing girls' interest in building, designing, and engineering. The aim of GoldieBlox is to help girls stick with STEM after age 8, when most of them lose interest. Instead of the Math class is tough Barbie, GoldieBlox show girls that the can "do math" and then can create things out of the kitchen and that it can be fun.
It matters to WiT (which I am considering joining). WiT talks to girls and young women to encourage them to go into STEM fields. Why? Because it matters. We can do the work, and we provide a unique perspective that many men just don't have.
Now I will agree that my particular area of tech will not appeal to most women. While I tend to surround myself with men because they are familiar to me, I get that this is not the case with most women. I sometimes think I am unusual in that I don't care a whole lot about fashion, makeup, celebrity gossip, and all that other drivel but then I realize that there really are women like me out there. There are plenty of us who don't think on the same plane as the majority. We're not all in STEM, but many of us are.
I think of the character Amy on Big Bang Theory. Of course, she's almost a caricature, but she does exist. And how about Dr. Brennan on Bones? Again, there must be some sort of truth to the creation of such a character. And I really don't think we are any rarer in the female sex than similar character types are in the male sex, but I do think we end up in other fields.
Where do smart girls end up, anyway? I think I'll hold off until my next installment on Women in Tech to try to answer that question in the big picture. I have a good idea where they go in my part of the world, but the world is a much, much bigger place than an IT department. Still, it bears investigating both where I am familiar and in the bigger world, does it not?
Recently, I had an opportunity to witness both horrid and amazing customer service on the same day. Perhaps the good one looked better by comparison, but I doubt it. I'll share what happened and you can decide for yourself.
eBay: Doing It Wrong
A month-ish ago, eBay did this seller thing where if you sold a phone during a given period, they would give you a $50 eBay coupon. It was an invite-only thing. My boyfriend got the invite and we just happened to have a cell phone lying around, unused (from an upgrade). So he sold it. A local person bought it and came to the house to pick it up. He marked the item sold and waited.
After a couple weeks had gone by with no sign of this coupon, he called customer service. The first call took about 15 minutes, and the CSR agreed he was eligible and said the coupons would be distributed in early November.
Early November came, no coupon, and he made the second call to eBay. This call took a little longer, maybe 20 minutes, because the original message had "fallen out" of his eBay messages so it required a little more investigation. Finally the CSR agreed that he should be receiving the coupon within 48 hours.
He waited, and nothing. And after Thanksgiving he called again. I was there for the whole thing. Here's some of the high points:
- He was on the phone for 96 minutes (yes, I'm serious)
- He was transferred five times. One of the transfers was to eBay motors.
- One CSR told him "let's be logical, it's been more than sixty days." It had not, and he's called at least two other times.
- When he asked to be transferred to that guy's supervisor, he was on hold for nearly 30 minutes
Eventually, he got to someone who listened and fixed the issue (finally!). But really? Nothing should be that difficult. No call to customer service should take more than one transfer, unless you are being belligerent and need a transfer to a manager. No call to customer service should take that long, and the one CSR who was rude needs to be fired.
And now the flip side:
Home Depot, Doing it Right
We were trying to buy something at our local Home Depot for someone to pick up at another Home Depot. The other store was out of our store's zone so it couldn't be done automagically and required some phone calling and general intervention.
Enter the CS manager, my new customer service hero. This guy called four different stores, then some other, higher up place for us. He was able to get the whole thing taken care of for us. He was patient, kind, and even funny while handling it. He didn't make us go talk to anyone else, he didn't blow us off, he didn't make us feel like we were asking for something crazy. He just put on his big boy customer service pants and helped us.
He definitely went above and beyond. I'm thankful that I was there and know his name so I can call his store manager and pass on how amazing he is. It's people like him that make us choose to spend our money at Home Depot, rather than Lowe's or some other place.
I do adore my fur-baby. My four-footed, neurotic, sits-like-an-old-drunk-guy, I can see the bottom of the bowl OMG, I am going to sleep on your face and you can't stop me, I don't have to be human to be bulimic kitteh.
Thanks to Girl Four for talking W into letting her live with him so I could make her love me.
I think the main reason I am in therapy is the whole "Am I the only one who..." question that seems to haunt me. Basically I want confirmation that the things I do are okay because they are normal, or at least normal for a subset, which is normal enough for me.
Here are some examples:
Here are some examples:
- Am I the only one who tries to teach their cat to do tricks?
- Am I the only one who lays out an entire week's worth of work clothes on the weekend?
- Am I the only one who is offended when someone under the age of 30 defines something I do (eat, drink, wear, etc) as "old people" stuff?
- Am I the only one who is creeped out by thins with tiny holes, like fiberglass lunch trays and natural sponges, but only of those holes have a certain degree of irregularity?
Okay, I know the answer to the last one is YES, but the rest of them? I think they are symptomatic of the human condition. And I think the need to know that I am not alone in my brand or neurosis is also symptomatic of the human condition. (Am I the only who doesn't care that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source, and still uses it for my first level of research, and often only researches one level?)
And y'all. I've mentioned my love for my therapist. She tells me when my stuff is wrong or crazy or whatever. She might say, "I think that's something we need to work on" and not "bitch you're insane" but I know what she means. And she tells me when I'm wrong. She told me one time that I'm not allowed to be a bitch when I don't feel good. I didn't even think of any response other than "thank you" until almost a week later, and then I wondered if another type of person may have gotten mad at her for not agreeing.
I went with my daughter to a couple of her therapy appointments several years ago. That therapist told her it's okay to do anything she needs to do, act any way she needs to act, and say anything she needs to say because she's a victim. I was like oh no you DIDN'T. Victimization is no excuse for poor behavior, which is pretty much what my therapist told me. It doesn't matter who did what and when they did it and why they did it. I cannot control anyone other than ME and I cannot change anything that happened in the past. All I can do is allow myself to heal and move forward.
I am healing and moving forward. And in the process of doing so, my therapist is not letting me take my crap out on other people. She's pretty awesome.