I went to a conference in a male dominated field: here's what I learned
Que lo que there! (that's how Dominicans say "what's up")
Last week I went to the Dominican Republic with my husband Mike because he was presenting at the Caribbean Developer's Conference. I'd been looking forward to the trip for a long time. It was a chance to lounge by the pool and get that November tan (ok- freckles, lots of freckles). But my husband had other plans for me- since I've changed careers, he registered me and encouraged me to participate. This was my first conference in a male dominated field and outside of education; I learned that these professionals act very differently than what I am used to.
They were confident:Like really confident, both in what they were good at, and in admitting what they wanted to learn more about. I often find myself trying to guess somebody's answer instead of just flat out asking them. For example instead of asking What are you doing for Thanksgiving? I might ask someone with a clumsy multiple choice: What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year, are you going to your family, or staying home, or do you even have family, do you even celebrate? Sorry for asking... So, I changed my approach to asking questions directly- I felt more confident and like the person was given a chance to answer completely.
They didn't waste their time: People were friendly- and they were there to network. I saw a lot of people directly explaining they were hiring or looking for specific opportunities. If interests didn't align, they let the conversation end. It didn't seem like people were getting stuck in the small talk I sometimes politely endure. On that note- I saw a lot of people say "I don't know about ___, but let me introduce you to __ who does."
They didn't talk about kids: This is probably an unfair generalization, but when women with children get together, they can talk about children nonstop. It's an easy thing if you're running low on conversation. I expected to see that, but even though the conference started right after Halloween I did not see one picture of a kid in their costume. My husband did not know if most of the people we talked with had kids (I found out because that's an essential question in discussing Primary Focus). I don't really know what to take from this because I heard plenty of small talk about other things- but it was interesting to see men do not pick their kids as the easy chit chat topic.
I'm not entirely sure if I've found some grand point to make from this- but all I can say is the conference felt very different than the way I have become accustomed to communicating. I'm looking forward to more experiences like this with my career change. Have you had observations like this?