Yesterday came and went and nothing from O’Reilly about my Emerging Technology Conference proposal, which signals that it wasn’t accepted. Yes, I am disappointed, as I thought the idea was interesting and even rather fresh–a variation on the all too common discussions on protocol and how one can market one’s new concept that seem to occur with growing frequency at tech conferences.
I had written something yesterday about this and pulled it because I thought afterwards that it was a bit too much feeling sorry for myself. I don’t want to indulge in a bout of ‘poor me’, but I do have to seriously reconsider the time that I devote to technology efforts, in particular those related to the semantic web and metadata, if the work I do continues to generate little interest.
In particular, I wonder at the level of respect I’ve earned within the technical circles, particularly those with ties into the weblogging community. Very few people have commented favorably on my Practical RDF book at Amazon and elsewhere, and I have to accept the fact that the book has been a disappointment to those who wanted something else. This was a lot of work to have little notice paid, other than the reviews, each of which finds some new area of the book to fault.
I should network, because this an enormous influence on acceptance of your work. I would like to travel to conferences to network with others of same interest, but I do not work for a company or university that would foot this bill. Another hinderance is where I live: Missouri colleges are very good, but not known for their semantic web efforts, and the location isn’t close to centers of such activity.
As for networking online, well, I’m not known for the number of people who would want to claim me as friend on their various networks. I can be critical and it doesn’t take an especially acute intelligence to notice that those who are not, particularly among the women, get more frequent opportunities in technology. Do I resent this? If the women have invested time in the technical field, or demonstrate skills related to their opportunities, no. If the women’s career shows they’ve invested little time in the field, or evidence no demonstrable skills in technology, yes.
The lack of acceptance of the ETech proposal follows closely on another opportunity that ended up not being an opportunity. As I wrote yesterday in the pulled post, when I answered a request for tech help on a project, only to find that another person was asked to head the metadata effort and my help was more in the line of ‘aiding communication between the project manager and the developers’, I begin to wonder: is there any faith in my technical abilities? After all these years and all this talk of metadata and technology and providing samples and tips and help and code, my role was seen more in the nature of helping to write up requirements.
This was really very discouraging. What’s worse is I don’t know if it was more in the nature of me being a woman, or in me being me.
In my many writings on women and tech, many people have responded that all it will take for more women entering technology is us making the decision to do so. However, these folk don’t understand what it’s like to sit on a Monday morning, disappointed at missing out on another technology opportunity, and not knowing if it was because your work wasn’t a fit; your proposal wasn’t good enough; the company doesn’t like you because you’ve bitched too much about them–or it was nothing more than an accident of genetics before you’re even born.
I do know one thing: rather than add to my confidence in my technical abilities, the interactions I’ve experienced in weblogging have undermined much of it, to the point where I am ready to drop over twenty years of training and experience and interest, in hopes I can pick up another career at the complicated age of 50.