Susan J. Fowler, STEM, Men, and Goals

There’s a fine line between jealousy and inspiration. My most recent jealousy inspiration is Susan J. Fowler. Obviously I’m not jealous of her for the only reason most of us know her name – her sexual harassment at the hands of her employer, Uber, which was then made newsworthy by the fact that Uber’s HR department defended and protected the harasser. No, I checked out her blog. And this woman can do everything. Write. Write code. Write about code. Speak. Start businesses. Write/edit philosophy papers. Professionally and reasonably navigate a traumatic situation. Be young and beautiful. And more than anything, believe in herself.

Self belief is about impossible to impart to another person, and it is just as impossible to describe in a worthwhile manner. But it is key. I have a friend who’s an engineer, generated 7 million dollars for his company through an endeavor he largely spearheaded, speaks internationally, wrote and published a book, is now a CTO of a small company, and is 26. Yes, 26. That man swims in self belief. You can see it as he walks down the halls. Swagger. Fashion. Everybody knows Bill. I suppose it’s a perfect constellation of factors coming together: drive, physical health and high energy, talent converging with the right industry as it’s rising (tech), through-the-roof social ability, and straight-up good old standard intelligence.

But back to Susan. She read 52 books last year. Wow. I will never do that and I will not try. A key difference, I imagine, is she’s likely not spending 5 hours a week at the gym. Were I to spend my gym time reading, sure, a book a week would be doable.

Another inspiration is that she truly feels STEM is her home (Science Technology Engineering Math). She doesn’t even hesitate. I am yet part of the phenomenon and error that says that women can’t compete in STEM. I can feel it in my soul. I meet another female engineer/developer and I’m always impressed. Why? Why am I impressed?! Do I think women can’t write code? See. I am part of the problem. And this despite the fact that I live this life (I write code for a living), was valedictorian of my high school (i.e. beat all the boys), and am aware that American girls have had equal math scores with their male counterparts for the past 30 years. There are no grounds to the lie that women aren’t equal to men in intellectual ability, but STEM and technology still do not reflect this truth. Technology is 90% male. Still a boys club. And she got the brunt of it here, and Uber lost a high performer because of their sick culture/boys club.

But, goals! This is all about goals, for me. Susan – a woman I have never met and never will – has inspired me.

  • I will read 12 books this year. One per month.
  • I will post to this blog once per month.
  • I will use my train ride into work to do JavaScript problems. (This is fun for me, I promise.)

And I will deepen my current goals, which are giving of myself to my local church, and studying a few hours each weekend on the philosophical/religious ideas that plague, pursue, entertain, and give me life.

Thank you Susan! Thanks for being brave and ignoring your gender because in our society females are still “less than”.

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