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Wednesday, 09 September 2009 09:54

What women want

By
About 80 people turned up for a Lego building session during a Women in IT session at the TechEd conference being held by Microsoft on the Gold Coast this week.  

In a lunchtime session facilitated by Denise Myerson from Management Consultancy International, delegates of both sexes attending the session were invited to use Lego blocks to depict some of the challenges they felt women faced in the workplace, and then to use the bricks to create representations of possible solutions. The session’s intent was to tackle some of the hurdles to be cleared in order to make careers in technology more accessible to women.

The ‘challenge’ models which were created featured many high walls to be scaled, innumerable glass ceilings and rococo constructions meant to depict the challenges associated with balancing work and family demands. When delegates were invited to create models depicting solutions to these challenges, the walls miraculously tumbled, glass ceilings gave way and work-life balance was no longer an oxymoron.

Lego Serious Play techniques are widely used in corporate education and training programmes to create physical metaphors for business challenges, and then to design new metaphors for solutions to those challenges.

How useful the metaphors will be when women return to their workplace is moot.

Microsoft claims that of the 2,500 delegates at the conference 200 are women, but a casual count in many of the technical sessions suggests that number may be inflated by the high numbers of Microsoft-employed women at the conference.

Certainly the relative dearth of women was cause for comment on white-boards set up on the floor of the exhibition where plaintive requests for “more women!” had been revised to “more hot women!” Unlikely with the air conditioning turned up high to cope with the Queensland spring.

Disclosure: Beverley Head is attending TechEd as a guest of Microsoft.
 


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