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Friday, January 17, 2014

What's your HITGender?

This is a particularly difficult post for me to write, because of my gender.  Yesterday I happened across a tweetchat called #HITChicks.  Now, I know most of the women involved in this chat, so I started listening in.  Of course, my challenge in participating in this conversation is in being male.

I find issue-based affinity groupings like this to be very challenging (for me).  Either I'm not a member of the group, and so am challenged by offering any input, or I am a member of the group, and while input I find that is most useful is what others have done or suggest which might work to address my issues, it rarely comes from those outside the members of the affinity group that are trying to address the issue. Or, I'm a supporter because I have some close ties to folks who are affected by the issue (e.g., my two girls). But it is in fact, in outside the affinity group where the solutions must be enacted, and where they likely might be found.  Otherwise, all we might be accomplishing is to have a bitch session.

My major observation to that chat was encapsulated in this tweet:
Click on the date above to see the responses, which were all fairly positive.

In this field, the people enjoy working with the most are mostly women, and it also seems to be the gender I work best with.  I don't understand why, but it is something that I have observed about myself.  And some of the women I work with have commented on it directly to me.

So, there's a style differential somewhere that seems to be somewhat gender related.  And it has an impact on me, and others.  It seems obvious (to me) that we (#HITFolk) cannot ignore that there is a gender differential, whether it is considered in either a positive or a negative light.  What is needed then, is an appreciation of the value of that differential, in both line and leadership positions (FWIW: The women I'm talking about above are all serious leaders).

I don't know what that differential is really, but I do know this.  If there really is an issue, and you want to resolve it, the best way to address it is not by forming an affinity-based group to address "your" issues, but rather to engage a wider audience in those issues, perhaps through some affinity-based leadership on those topics.  If we divide along the #HITChicks and #HITGuys line, we won't get there.  So, if you want to address gender issues in #HIT, how about an #HITGender chat?  The #HITChicks might lead it, but if you really want a solution, it's going to have to involve some #HITGuys.

Think about it.  I still am.

     Keith



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