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Where are the women in the SAP Community?

My Community Talk presentation at SAP TechEd Barcelona 2019

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Where are the women in the SAP Community?

  1. 1. Enterprise Partner Where are the women in the SAP Community?
  2. 2. I have never done this before. (I am super nervous)
  3. 3. At TechEd Barcelona last year I had a bit of a realisation. Based on a personal (rather discouraging) experience.
  4. 4. I feel the amount of women in the SAP Community is declining, instead of increasing.
  5. 5. And the questions that followed that realization: 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?
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. So what exactly happened last year? For those of you who weren’t here last year, this:
  8. 8. The most fun TechEd keynote ever!
  9. 9. 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. HUGE progress! (as well as, of course being super proud of having been invited up on stage as a non-SAP employee)
  10. 10. 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?”
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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? Exactly. So then you can perhaps imagine how many incredibly hurtful comments I got from men, and how many encouraging comments I got from other women. (photocredit: Jim Spath – TechEd Barcelona last year)
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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. Because:
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. …and then there is this
  17. 17. Exactly how many years of experience does one need before the mansplaining stops? Because after 15+ years it is still happening to me.
  18. 18. (and in case there are any men in the audience who ever wonder if you are mansplaining, here is a simple chart you can use)
  19. 19. And I am tired of it. It is not fun anymore. The comments I received after the keynote last year, ignited a fire in me.
  20. 20. And I know the female developers and techies are out there
  21. 21. Ada Lovelace Day 2019 – but not here
  22. 22. And I know SAP on a corporate level focuses on diversity and inclusion. According to their website ”Gender Intelligence” is one of the focus areas: ” Ensuring awareness of the benefits of gender diversity and helping women and men work more effectively together.”
  23. 23. Although apparently…. Mainly focus on having more women in leadership. Sigh.
  24. 24. Drilling a bit further down it seems SAP is also focusing on STEM-related activies in: - The European Center for Women and Technology - Girls Who Code - Girl Smarts - TechGirlz
  25. 25. 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?
  26. 26. So, how did I get here? (the personal story part)
  27. 27. 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. (Output Pak) 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.
  28. 28. 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 at times.
  29. 29. This was sub-conscious of course. From Wikipedia: ” 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.”
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. 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.
  32. 32. 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 Tracks. 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.
  33. 33. Then in 2011 this happened. And with that followed almost a year on maternity leave.
  34. 34. 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.
  35. 35. (I’m not the only one btw…)
  36. 36. 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. New beginnings.
  37. 37. 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 UX. 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.
  38. 38. 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”.
  39. 39. Where to go from here?
  40. 40. 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?
  41. 41. …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 have? • Do I have great experiences to share? • How can I actively get other women to join? • Am I part of creating a supportive environment?
  42. 42. I still have no idea where to go from here, or what exactly the next steps should, or could, be.
  43. 43. 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.
  44. 44. Please feel free to reach out, if anyone would like to contribute  @yojibee