Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

I Don’t Want A Handout

I don’t want a handout.  Never have.  Never will.  I recently read a thoroughly disappointing post from Allyson Kapin at Fast Company.  In her post she essentially argues for a quota system that would ensure women are equally represented on panels at tech conferences.  Say what?  Yeap, you heard it.

A quota system doesn’t ensure equality, what it ensures is mediocrity.  I’m what the kids might call, “ethnic.”  Yet, I’ve never played the “race card” to gain an advantage.  Never.  Not once.  Didn’t do it to score better and more scholarships for college…or better yet to gain admittance into a college.  I’ve never played the card to score a job or get invited to a conference.

You won’t find me bemoaning the lack of so called minorities in the advertising business.  In fact, my thoughts on the matter are the same as my thoughts about women being invited to tech conferences: I want the best of the best, independent of race, color, creed, religion, gender, etc.

Why is that so hard?  Why I submitted my presenter/speaker application to BlogWorld and was turned down, I was disappointed.  But, instead of taking to the streets and demanding more ethnic representation at conferences, I hunkered down and tried to improve my work so that when I submit my application next year, I get accepted.

I don’t want a handout and neither should you.  You should want to be judged on the merit of your work, capabilities, skill, and value – not your gender, color, race, etc.  Would you really want to speak at a conference knowing that you’re only there to fill a quota and appease some loud mouth group/person that’s stumping for more representation of “their” group?  I wouldn’t.  If you do, you’re taking the easy way out and your work and talent will suffer for it.

I don’t want a hand out.

  • http://twitter.com/emdesign Erin McLafferty

    Kudos. I work hard. In every effort I make, I want to succeed. If and when I reach some pinnacle in my career or receive recognition/achievement, I want to be able to hold my head high and say that I received it from my efforts and not due to a vacancy in the quota. After all, gender equality would be not looking at the gender at all, right?

  • queenoftheclick

    In every area, there are men and women who are qualified and deserve positions and recognition.

    Yet positions, recognition and even conference speaking invitations are given by those in charge. I've had a series of fortunate events and I've been hired and promoted by people who knew me or knew my work. Many people haven't had my luck and that is a problem that exists in our society. I'm taking the time tonight to tell you why you need to change your attitude about this topic.

    CORA!

    I was surprised to see you were the father of a baby girl.

    My father understood in the 70's his role of being a Dad to a girl. He bought me legos and erector sets so that I could build. I had dolls, but I had “boys toys” because he knew that I would go to school with boys and need to be able to compete with them. My father is a feminist because he watched women get stepped on and overlooked for positions at his company. He was an actuary and he made sure that women who were interested in the area prepared for tests and got positions in the company. He knew back then what I would be facing in a man's world.

    So you know what it is like to be a minority. I do too. I sat in computer conferences 10 years ago and was one of three women in a room full of about 150 white and Asian men. Again, I'm lucky because I was the free spirit and I didn't realize what the statistics back then. I just thought “wow this is cool, they love computers as much as I do.”

    Now, when I am not being a fantastic tech teacher to some talented middle schoolers, I work for a company let's me hire the people who work on my team. Men and women are needed to work together in my opinion because we think differently and as a result make a great team. To overlook that aspect, would say that we don't have a good understanding of society. Conferences that leave out women as speakers is uncalled for in our day. There are just as many qualified women as there are men. Anyone who doesn't believe that they can be replaced by someone is naive.

    Finally, tonight I realized that women have so far to go. Not because we aren't THERE, but because there are people who aren't THERE with us. I will accept every single speaking opportunity that is sent my way as a result of your words tonight. May my students, nieces, your daughter and my future children never know that we lived in such a backward society.

    Props to my Dad, my professors, J. Adams, L.Ani and all the men who I have worked for and with over the years. I have always felt supported and acknowledged as a professional and equal.

  • reverendchu

    In a country that looks to be a melting pot, Allyson looks to make sure that nothing melts. While I appreciate her POV, it seems to me the best way to increase the number of women speakers (and would that be white women, black women, latina women, asian women, gay women?) would be to increase the number of women in that particular workforce. I don't see where the list of speakers and the topics covered in the Web 2.0 conference she spoke of required a gender balance. Rather, the topics seemed to address a technology that provides value for everyone. Print them out, remove the names, and the content is no less valuable.

    Now, I'd like to know why the LPGA hasn't admitted any men into their tournaments.

  • reverendchu

    In a country that looks to be a melting pot, Allyson looks to make sure that nothing melts. While I appreciate her POV, it seems to me the best way to increase the number of women speakers (and would that be white women, black women, latina women, asian women, gay women?) would be to increase the number of women in that particular workforce. I don't see where the list of speakers and the topics covered in the Web 2.0 conference she spoke of required a gender balance. Rather, the topics seemed to address a technology that provides value for everyone. Print them out, remove the names, and the content is no less valuable.

    Now, I'd like to know why the LPGA hasn't admitted any men into their tournaments.