Fiat Lux

It's Latin for 'Let there be Light'

Seven Years Later

7yearsatadobe Today marks my 7-year anniversary as an employee of Adobe. How time flies! When I first joined the company, neither the iPad nor Android phones were out in the market, and CS3 was the latest Adobe release.

Here’s a few stats from my time at Adobe to date:

Laptops: 3
Roles: 4
Attended Adobe MAX: 6
Miles flown for work: Over 100,000
Events: See photo – way too many!

I’ve made friends around the world, gotten to photograph Robert Redford, handed out t-shirts and swag at events from Amsterdam to Portland, and watched products launch and be end of lifed. Through it all, I still feel proud to work for Adobe alongside such an amazing bunch of individuals as my co-workers.

Here’s to the next 7 years!

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Working Women Stuck In The Middle – What Would You Do?

source: freedigitalphotos.net artist: graur razvan ionut I read “Speaking While Female” in the NY Times today, and felt a mixture of recognition, relief, frustration, and depression. Recognition – the stories told were all too familiar. Relief – that it wasn’t just me. Frustration – that nobody else seems to have solved the problem either. And depression – because it doesn’t seem like this is a problem that is going to change within my lifetime.

There’s this example from the article, to start. Something very similar happened to me at a meeting, just within the last week (not for the first time, either):

When a woman speaks in a professional setting … either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.

It’s pretty frustrating to experience. If it happens too often, it’s easy to become demoralized and think “Why bother?”.

And even more depressing was this:

When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness.

So what is a woman to do? Speak up and be punished for upsetting the established power dynamic, or stay silent and locked in the status quo? Talk about a no-win situation. It’s no wonder that a woman has to work twice as hard to be thought half as good as a man.

Some have suggested the way out is for more women to start their own businesses. When you’re the boss, after all, the power dynamic is in your favor. And that solution may work for some women, but it doesn’t solve the issue for existing organizations.

Some companies (like Google) are starting to implement processes to try to deflect this built-in bias, but it remains to be seen if those tactics will work.

In the meantime, we working women are stuck in the middle.

What would you do?

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Online Harassment Is As Old As The Internet: My Story

Cross-posted from Medium

Back in the early days of the Internet era I started a tiny little ISP / web hosting company in New York. As part of that work, I got active in various online mailing lists and other places where technical folks gathered, like IRC. I wasn’t the only woman in the community but I was one of a very small number. Overall, it was great. We were all figuring out something new together in a brand-new and rapidly expanding environment. It wasn’t easy but it was fun.

And then something funny happened. A small group decided I didn’t “belong” on IRC. And the harassment began. I would log into IRC and get barraged with messages calling me all sorts of ugly names. I would join a channel and that channel would get flooded with attacks on me.

I was fortunate that I knew the people who ran the channels I frequented, and that they were supportive of me, so they set up scripts to keep that crap off those channels. Those quickly became my only safe spaces on IRC. Anywhere else, I’d get flooded again.

Eventually I just stopped logging into IRC at all. Problem solved? No. Then it escalated.

First it was sending pornographic pictures to a professional discussion list I belonged to. Again, luckily, the list moderator was a friend of mine (and another woman to boot) so those never made it onto the list.

I was running my own ISP at the time, so they couldn’t go after me at work, but the guys harassing me quickly figured out where my husband worked and started sending email to his employer accusing him of all sorts of things. It impacted his job.

Eventually the harassers found other things to do with their time – maybe gaming? – and I changed career focus. I haven’t been harassed since. As a woman in marketing, I am not the “threat” that a more technical woman is, I suspect.

I consider myself lucky. I was never stalked or threatened the way women like Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Kathy Sierra are today. Reddit, 4chan, Google, social media – none of those things existed when I was getting harassed online. What happened to me was much more limited. And I have no regrets about changing my career focus. I love what I do.

I hate that being a woman in technology means having to know about and be prepared to deal with harassment. I can’t do much to impact it, but what little I can do is to stand up, share my story, and say what I believe:

  • Online harassment was wrong then, and it is wrong today.
  • We all need to do what we can to change the environment so that it cannot continue.
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    13 Years Later: 9/11

    US flag at sunset

    God bless you, Kath, wherever you are.

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    Are You A Photographer?

    Whales

    “To me, an amateur photographer is one who is in love with taking pictures, a free soul who can photograph what he likes and who likes what he photographs.”

    – Erwin Blumenfeld (Popular Photography 1948)

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    Recipe: Quinoa With Black Beans and Tomato

    Somewhere between a side dish and a salad, I pulled this dish together last night from the pantry and the garden. It turned out very well for a freehanded dish, so I thought I’d share it. I used standard canned black beans; other beans might work well as well.

    Ingredients:

    1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
    1 cup chicken stock (or water if you’re a vegetarian)
    1 large shallot, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 can cooked black beans
    1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (approximately)
    8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
    2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preparation:

    Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and allow to cool. I used chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor.

    Put the oil into a nonstick pan. Sauté the shallot and garlic over medium heat until golden brown – watch carefully to avoid burning, especially if you chopped them very small.

    Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and then put them into a bowl big enough to hold all ingredients.

    Add the black beans, basil, parsley, shallots, garlic, and the quinoa.

    Mix everything up in the blow and then salt & pepper to taste.

    Can be served immediately or held in the fridge until dinner time.

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