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The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

Being a Woman in the SQL Community

Read original blog post here.

In celebration of Women’s History Month starting next week, I was asked to write this blog about my experiences as a woman in the SQL Community, and it really got me thinking. At first, I thought I should be very politically correct and only talk about the great stuff and hype up all wonderful experiences I’ve had but then I thought that wouldn’t give a true picture. So, I am writing this as openly and honestly as I can. Here it goes.

The Ugly

I am going to start with the negatives to get those out of the way and draw attention to things that are still happening not only to me but to other women in this community. I don’t want this to be a gripe piece, since that’s not what I do. It is intended to be an honest accounting of my experience. Your experiences will vary, and I am not speaking for anyone else, but know I am not the only woman to have these experiences. I will address the bad and then move on to the fantastic things that this community has to offer for women and what I have been able to achieve because of the opportunities this community has afforded to me.

These are the things that suck about being a woman in the SQL Community that have had an effect on me. I am just going list them without detail, again I am just calling these out so others are aware these things happen.

Seeing Diversity and Inclusion Panels with no women

Having men assume I am there with my husband

Being hit on by random “community” guys in person, on twitter, on linked in, on my website

Being stalked by other male attendees

Being physically assaulted by male attendees (being touched without permission)

Someone assuming I was only selected to speak BECAUSE they needed women

Not being chosen for something BECAUSE I was a woman

Several implying I was given Microsoft MVP award only BECAUSE I was a woman

Needing a male to repeat what I said so my ideas/solution etc. would be heard

Having a male think they need to speak for me

Having people not accept that men and women in the community can’t be good friends and nothing more

Some assuming I got my current job only because they needed a woman on staff, not because of qualifications

The Good

Thankfully, unlike other communities, the SQL Server community is very welcoming to women.  The benefits of being a member of it FAR outweighs the negatives. This community has helped me achieve so much. I am grateful for all the community as afford me and I give back as much as I can because of it.

Here are some of the opportunities and experiences I’ve gotten, not just because I am a woman but because of being an active part of the SQL community.

Building a network of smart, strong, technical women that you can rely on for questions, support and feedback. Knowing they’ve been there done that too.

Getting a chance to sit on WIT panels regularly with topics dealing with gender issues or career advice

Running a user group

Being a Regional Mentor

Running a SQL Saturday

Being a speaker at conferences and SQL Saturdays

Ability to mentor younger women

Being amplified as an expert in my field (this is HUGE as a woman)

Being a role model as a successful woman to my daughters by being part of this community and giving back

Being an advocate for other women

Writing and being published blogger

Seeing more and more men attend WIT panels and speak up

Seeing women on panels because they deserve to be there, not because they needed a woman

Being ask directly to speak somewhere because of your knowledge, not because of my gender

Seeing the community come together and speak up when issues with regards to diversity and inclusion come to light.

Having a Board of Directors that takes action when there is a violation to the Anti-Harassment policy

Being turned to for advice on policies

Becoming a Microsoft MVP because of the work I do in this community

The feeling you get after speaking when someone says they learned something

The unwavering support you get from the SQL Family when times are tough

The knowledge there are other women in this community that have been there, done that, and you are not alone.

The “you got this” push you get from the SQL Family that pushes you to venture out of your comfort zone

I could  all the great ways this community has shaped my life and my career. I even got approached for my last job in part just by my involvement in this community. There is so much to be gained by being a part of it regardless of your gender. We all know there are so many challenges with being a woman in tech. We talk about these all the time. What makes the SQL Community different for me is that we UNDERSTAND that, and we work to continually improve upon it. Having been part of this community for almost a decade, I’ve seen so much change in this for the better. As Rie and I always say, we are grateful for those who have run the gauntlet before us.  We are standing on the shoulders of those women who came before us and fought the good fight. We are blessed to continue to do it for the others that will follow. Thank you, SQL Community, for helping me achieve what I hope will help other women as they rise.

Monica Rathbun
About the author

Monica Rathbun lives in Virginia, is a Microsoft MVP for Data Platform and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. She has nearly two decades of experience working with a wide variety of database platforms with a focus on SQL Server and the Microsoft Data Platform. She is a frequent speaker at IT industry conferences on topics including performance tuning and configuration management. She is the Leader of the Hampton Roads SQL Server User Group and a Mid‐Atlantic PASS Regional Mentor. She is passionate about SQL Server and the SQL Server community, doing anything she can to give back. Monica can always be found on Twitter (@sqlespresso) handing out helpful tips.You can find Monica blogging at sqlespresso.com.

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