It’s the last day of DreamForce and as I wander around Moscone with husband and daughter in tow, I reflected on the week that came before. My mind travels back to a specific incident that occurred while at DreamForce that really brought home the difference between women and men. And that difference is confidence.
I had decided to take the Salesforce.com Developer Certification (I’ve already been certified as a System Administrator).
So, early Monday morning, I, along with over 200 others, went to the testing area set up in the hotel. As I took the test, I noticed that I was internally questioning my own knowledge … questioning every answer that I submitted. Until finally, I gave myself a pep talk and said, “Ashima, you know the answers, take in a deep breath, close your eyes and visualize passing the test.” So, I did just that. Closed my eyes. Took a deep breath. And relaxed into the test. At the end, I passed. (Well, of course I passed the test, right?)
I knew a few other people who were also taking the test, but I want to mention two people who failed the test and their reactions to failing. The following is my conversation with them. (While not exactly verbatim, you get the point.)
Me: “Hey guys, how did the test go?”
First person: “I can’t believe I failed. I totally knew all the answers and I have no idea what I messed up on. I’m going to take it again.”
Second person: “I failed. I guess I didn’t know as much as I thought. I better study more next time, but who has the time?”
Can you guess the gender of each person? I’ll give you a hint: they are either male or female:
If you guessed that first was male and second was female, you would be correct.
Now some of you might say, “That first person is ego-centric, blaming someone else.” Actually, he’s confident in himself and his abilities. He know his stuff. Maybe he’s not great at taking tests.
And the second person, the woman? Where is her confidence? When did she stop believing in herself and her abilities? I began to realize more and more, women are stripped of their confidence. When does it happen? How does this happen?
I attended a discussion between Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce.com) and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook). Sheryl asked the audience, “How many men have been called bossy?” No hands went up. Then, same question was asked to the women in the room, and nearly all raised their hands. Then Sandberg asked about being called aggressive: No men raised their hands, and again, almost all the women raised their hands.
It was like a lightening bolt hit me: Women lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. Then the second bolt hit me: I am no different.
I believe that there is a dearth of feminine energy in business, technology, science, government (you name it); yet we cannot move forward until we grow the confidence of women: young women, tiny women, unborn women — all women.
As we grow confidence within women, we will change the energy in these sectors. We will find more women in places of power who embrace their feminine as well as their masculine sides, and those of us who are confident in ourselves will use our feminine powers to guide women in a kind and loving way.
Although I have always been personally committed to guiding any women who asks for my help, I am going to be more proactive. I am committing myself to:
- Helping any woman who wants to pass any Salesforce certification,
- Developing products and tools to help young girls grow and nurture their analytic and human skills,
- Turning Database Sherpa into a female-run cooperative with feminine and masculine energy running it,
- Developing training materials for women wanting to become programmers,
- Mentoring women who decide to follow the path of computer science (we MUST increase the numbers).