and it is not unusual for me to be in workshops and meetings as the only woman out of 10-15 men.
It is a behavioural pattern in our culture. A pattern of overlooking and dismissing womens knowledge, experience and voices.
Because I know the women in STEM and the female developers are there – I follow what feels like ”a ton” of them on twitter. Microsoft Kubernetes
So I started by looking at SAP. What do they do?
So when I click to learn more
I wish more of these activies would also involve the SAP Community and the ecosystem. Feels disconnected.
I don’t know about you, but I have not seen any crossover activies between what SAP is presenting on their website, to what happens at TechEd (or SAPPHIRE for that matter – and yes, I do know Karlie Kloss was on stage)
As I promised this would be a personal presentations
Just to name a few examples.
(this is of course, also something which comes with age - now that I am getting older, I have way less insecurities than when I was younger. Which has made me more consciuos about finding ways to mentor younger women who enter our realms)
They have since last year, turned into this list
Where are the women in the SAP Community?
Where are the women in
the SAP Community?
I have never done this
(I am super nervous)
At TechEd Barcelona last year I had a bit of a
Based on a personal (rather discouraging)
I feel the amount of women in
the SAP Community is declining, instead of
And the questions that followed that realization:
Where are the women? (everywhere but here it feels
Why are we so few?
What can I do to help create a change?
What can we all do together?
I will let the questions sit for a bit,
and rewind to SAP TechEd Barcelona last year, and tell
you about this rather discouraging experience I had.
So what exactly happened last year?
For those of you who weren’t here last year, this:
I was a part of Bjorn Goerke’s TechEd keynote demo team. And that demo
team consisted only of women. (and we managed to keep it a secret until I
walked on stage.)
Men on stage: 1
Women on stage: 4
I was so proud.
I felt like we were finally breaking glass ceilings – all the subject matter
experts on stage, were women.
(as well as, of course being super proud of having been invited up on stage as a non-SAP
However the feedback I got from parts of the male audience was:
”Is it now time for us to start an #ustoo movement, since there were only
women doing the demos on stage?”
”Is that diversity when women take over the stage like that?”
”What happened to equality, shouldn’t there be at least 50% men on stage?”
And almost all the comments were made with a
little wink, or wrapped in some lame joke.
Which just added to the insult for me.
To put it in context.
This picture is what TechEd looks like
for me. (or almost any given day at
work for that matter)
How many women do you see?
So then you can perhaps imagine how
many incredibly hurtful comments I
got from men, and how many
encouraging comments I got from
(photocredit: Jim Spath – TechEd Barcelona last year)
As I was preparing for TechEd this year, I was looking through my session agenda.
Male speakers: 38
Female speakers: 6
More than 5 times as many men as women.
At a technical-educational conference from one of the world’s largest software
companies in 2019…
And this is mostly following the UX track, where I would expect to see a higher rate
of female speakers, than for instance for the ABAP development track.
So I decided to change the topic of my Community Talk presentation.
Instead of adding yet another talk about how wonderful SAP Fiori is to the
agenda, I wanted to share something very personal instead.
Most meetings I attend, presentations I give, or
workshops I hold, I will be:
Either the only woman in the room, or one of
perhaps 2-3 women.
And I know SAP on a corporate level focuses on diversity and inclusion.
According to their website ”Gender
Intelligence” is one of the focus
” Ensuring awareness of the benefits
of gender diversity and helping
women and men work more
Mainly focus on having more
women in leadership.
Drilling a bit further down it seems SAP is also focusing on STEM-related
- The European Center for Women and Technology
- Girls Who Code
- Girl Smarts
But where is SAP’s own community and ecosystem in all of this?
Why are there no visible synergyes?
No trickle-down effects?
Why are none of these initatives at TechEd?
So, how did I get here?
(the personal story part)
I stumbled into the SAP ecosystem from a web-developer and web-designer
background many years ago. (this was back in the HTML2 days)
I was only supposed to help an aquintance design a few Adobe forms.
A short project. In and out.
But then I discovered the GUI screens, and suddenly realised there was
work for someone with a designer background in the world of SAP.
Let’s just say I always loved big challenges LOL.
So I went back to school, and learned ABAP and became a certified ABAP
developer 7 months later.
For many years I loved being a ”business woman”.
Or I loved playing the part as a business women, in what felt like a role play
This was sub-conscious of course.
” Role-playing is the changing of one's behaviour to assume a role, either
unconsciously to fill a social role, or consciously to act out an adopted role.”
For many years, you would not see me wear anything but button-down
shirts, pencil skirts, suit pants, blazers and high heels.
It was fun.
And I got a lot attention.
And I also got:
• Job offers in exchange for sex
• Sexual advances at work
• Unwanted grabbing, mostly at parties and events
I really believed that was normal, that it was what it took to some day earn
that seat at the table.
And that if I sucked it up long enough, I would transition from a feeling of
faking it, to a feeling of making it.
I happened to time my entry into the SAP Community and the SAP
ecosystem with the onset of social media, blogging and especially twitter.
I spent MANY hours online connecting with fellow SAP Community
members all over the world. We shared our experiences, helped each other,
and we felt like we were part of a family across borders.
Then the SAP Mentor program happened, the blogger program, the Inside
I had the honor of being part of Adobe’s evangelist team, and public
speaking and conferences became my job.
And I felt like I was finding my stride.
Then in 2011 this happened.
And with that followed
almost a year
on maternity leave.
During my maternity leave, this also happened:
- I got laid off
- I was no long invited to conferences as a speaker
- I was moved to Mentor alumni status
It felt like a career suicide.
So I got *a lot* of time to think.
And ask myself a lot of questions.
I decided to leave the SAP world, and the SAP Community. I returned to my
roots – the ”regular” UX world after my maternity leave was over
To find myself.
To start from scratch.
And to work in a world where the gender balance is closer to 50-50.
But I missed the challenges.
…and SAP GUI ;)
SAP must have listened, so they released Fiori – which was a perfect fit for
me. I could combine my technical know-how, with my love for design and
And because I, despite of everything, still had people around me who never
stopped encouranging me to return, and who always believed in me – I
decided to return.
But on my terms this time.
When I put my SAP technology hat on, I will still more often than not be the
only woman in the room – but I no longer feel I have to ”out-male the men”.
I can be ”just me”.
And trust the sum of my experiences.
Although all the mansplaining still drives me crazy.
Or angry to the point where I will have problems sleeping because I hate
myself for not calling the men out on it, but instead letting it ”fly by”.
The questions I had last year:
• Where are the women? (everywhere but here it feels like)
• Why are we so few?
• What can I do to help create a change?
• What can we all do together?
…have turned into a few questions I repeatedly ask myself now:
• Am I a great advocate for other women in the community?
• Do I persuade other women to join, because of the great experiences I
• Do I have great experiences to share?
• How can I actively get other women to join?
• Am I part of creating a supportive environment?
I still have no idea where to go from here, or what exactly the next steps
should, or could, be.
But I felt it was time to bring up the subject, to start to talk about it and to
start to ask a whole lot of questions.
Please feel free to reach out, if anyone would like to contribute