Here I was, one of the attendees at the NERD International Women’s Day Mixer and full of inspiration from mingling with smart ladies working at local tech organizations. I was now listening to a panel discussing the future of women in technology. A blog post was shaping up in my mind about all the things we can do to encourage the participation of women in the rapidly evolving technology space when, all of a sudden, my train of thought was interrupted.
One of the few guys in the room raised his hand to pose a question, “How can men help?”
After the panelists answered his question, he looked around in search for the mic runner again. He continued to make comments on the same question, holding the mic close to his chest as if he didn’t have the slightest intention of separating from it. One of the panelists tried to jump in and share her thoughts, but the guy kept talking and interrupting her. Finally, we were able to move on to another question.
I stood there absorbing the situation: the panel of speakers encouraging women to stand up and raise their voice and the male attendee demanding the room’s attention with his body language, lengthy comments and dramatic intonation.
A few minutes later, the moderator announced that the next question was going to be the last one for the evening. The mic runner approached a young guy to my left. After he grabbed the mic, we learned that he, in fact, didn’t have a question. He had an answer to the question that the first guy had posed.
The two men waved at each other across the room and for the last few minutes of the panel we listened to the second guy’s suggestions on how men can help women take leadership roles in tech.
Did anyone else see the paradox? I surely hope so.