Women in Agile?

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by Natalie Warnert on December 19, 2014

Angela Johnson, PMP, PMI-ACP, CST is a founding member of Collaborative Leadership Team, a Certified Scrum Trainer and Agile Transformation Coach who is passionate about changing the world of work.  She seeks to help people and organizations to break down their barriers and work together in a collaborative way.  Angela brings 20+ years in the information technology space and real world client case studies to her presentations.  She is a mom, wife, sailor, reader and lifelong learner living in Minnesota.

As a recreational sailor and a woman, I do not think of myself as a Woman in Sailing.  I think of myself as a sailor.  The most common phrase uttered at the yacht club where I learned to sail was right from Woody Allen “80% of life is showing up”.  If you want to sail, if you want to race, if you want to be put into the game “you have to show up”.  This phrase was not used with the females interested in sailing, it was shared with anyone interested in sailing.  So what is up with “Women in Agile?”

In my 20 years working in the male-dominated Information Technology field and the 11 years I have been involved in Agile and Scrum communities, I have never thought of myself as a “Woman in Agile”.  I view myself as an Agilist.  A Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).  Not a Female CST.  My belief has been you have to show up to play.  If women want to be included, where are they?

And today, instead of asking “Where are the women in Agile and Scrum” I find myself asking “Why aren’t the Women in Agile and Scrum showing up”?

Perhaps I am asking this after reading what happened to Adria Richards at the Open Source Conference PyCon, also known as donglegate:  http://tinyurl.com/ob8ez34

When women have shown up to Agile or Scrum conferences, user groups, online forums, etc. have they been treated the same way that their male counterparts have?  Maybe some had experiences such as Adria Richards and rather than say something, they simply stopped showing up?

In May I looked around the Scrum Trainers and Coaches retreat I was in and only saw 1 other female.  The remaining 50+ participants were men.  As I participated in discussions, I was talked over, disregarded, turned away from and angrily responded to if my response differed from some of the participants.

Kudos to the male participants there who intervened and asked that everyone involved be respectful of one another and not to interrupt, talk louder over someone to drown them out, etc.

In an online forum of Scrum Trainers and Coaches that I subscribe to, my posts are repeatedly disregarded or in many cases hijacked and turned into something I did not intend.  As a result I have ceased my involvement in that forum.

The Scrum Values we teach in Certified ScrumMaster training are Focus, Openness, Respect, Commitment and Courage.

My appeal to the Women in Agile or Scrum and to the Men in Agile or Scrum is to view us all as People in Agile and Scrum.  We ideally are all trying to promote a different way of doing work that is value and principle based.

Let’s encourage each other to be Courageous.  Let’s encourage each other to be Open.  Let’s Focus on outcomes and not who or where the idea originated.  Let’s be Respectful of each other.  If we all Commit to living the very values that we teach, perhaps more women will feel like they can show up.


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