There are days I really hate my former employer, JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, and these days are becoming more and more frequent as I struggle with finding out what's wrong with my hands, waiting on the judge to determine if/when they will take responsibility for the pain and suffering I experienced working for them and now live with on a daily basis, and my inability to do my normal work as a result of these injuries which is causing me emotional, physical, and financial stress on a daily basis.
I often wonder if the main Marriott company knew how their franchisee was handling injured employees what they would say about it and if they would step in.
If it was my brand, I would.
I know I post a lot of fun activities I'm involved in, I tweet silly stuff, and I rarely talk about this issue, but after being rejected by the one female founder conference I really wanted to attend when I attend so many male-dominated tech conferences down here, I'm extremely disappointed and feel like opening up because it's real, the Las Vegas Marriott needs to be outed and I'm tired of the BS.
I needed to hear other female founders speak to gain strength from their experiences and now I won't. Listening to a live stream just isn't the same. It just isn't.
I know I'm on the computer a lot, but I also take long spells where I'm off to allow the pain to subside and to allow myself a mental break from pain. Do you know how debilitating it is to have constant pain? Do you know how terrifying it is to think you may not have use of your hands for the rest of your life when typing, communicating, writing, social media and emailing is how you've made you're living for the past ten years? Or to constantly be put off by doctors because they can't figure out what's causing the pain through normal testing?
Do you know how slow working with pain makes your progress when you're having to work around a disability? Or how difficult it is to find work that won't tax your hands further? Nearly impossible. And being told by someone to just get a job, damage my hands more and don't worry about the future, you need to make a living.
Give me a break. I'm nothing without my hands.
Have you ever experienced not making enough money to get ahead enough to save money for a deposit on a place and discovering ID theft is screwing up your credit and you're turned down by every place you apply to for two months solid because you operate on a cash basis, there's no credit history and your good credit has been ruined by a thief?
And you're having to pick up the pieces and fight to get things straightened out again? All while being unable to work in your normal field because your last employer illegally fired you while you were injured and around the same time you discovered a lump in your breast?
That's been my life for the past eleven months. (And no, no cancer thank you Lord.)
I have been mulling over and over in my mind how I address the fact there are so few female role-models in the Santa Monica tech scene that are seasoned professionals, not newbies like so many panels I see boast. I've been trying to think of a polite way to discuss it, address it, and whatever which is why I still owe an article on the great interview I held with a female who accomplished amazing career achievements in the music industry and now car industry months ago.
I just can't find a polite way to say what I'm about to say. I've really thought about it, but it is what it is. Here's my thoughts - take 'em or leave 'em.
I don't want to hear from some 20 something who easily received funding because the investor probably either wants to sleep with her, or did, and now she only has to worry about looking cute to make sure her investor is happy with her and she'll continue to be able to grow her company not worrying about paying rent, buying food and everything else everyone else worries about on a regular basis while also trying to build a company when they're not receiving funding.
And then, the one time there is an amazing panel of female entreprenuers where we can actually gain wisdom, the female moderator decides to ask them "How do you juggle motherhood with running a business?" Totally ignoring the fact the majority of the female founders in the audience are single, no interest in kids, or don't have children and she's merely asking out of selfish reasons with complete disregard for the audience and their interests.
WHO CARES? I don't. Many others didn't either.
If I want to hear how a woman juggles motherhood and her career I would go to a Mommy Blogger conference, but that type question doesn't belong in the Santa Monica tech scene. Neither does asking, "How do we get more females interested in STEM?" You want to know how? You introduce them to role-models they can aspire to become like, not ask questions that no one in the audience cares about.
If I cared about that issue I would attend a PTA meeting for heaven's sake. I DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN I'M RAISING. I DO NOT LIE IN BED WORRYING ABOUT YOUNG GIRLS GETTING INTO TECH. You want to know what keeps me up at night? Wondering how I can work, build my business, and take care of my hands as best I can. I also worry about being a good role-model and mentor for the young women I meet who are interested in tech through the tech group I run.
That's how I give back and that's what motivates me when I'm having struggles.
I also wonder where all the amazing tech women I read about in ELLE Magazine's Women in Tech Awards or hear are being honored by Women 2.0 (all up in Silicon Valley.) Where are the female leaders here in Silicon Beach? Why aren't they included in the primarily male-dominated Silicon Beach tech conference scene? I don't want to hear from peers, or those with less experience, I want to hear from women I can aspire to become.
You choose any woman on either of those lists (ELLE & Women 2.0) and you will blow any 20 something founder male or female speaker out of the water. Bring them down or invite them to come at least...
I don't want to see a token female moderator out of the hundred tech speakers (all male.) I want to see women discussing how they run their businesses, what makes them uniquely qualified to do what they do, how did they handle lack of funding or respect for their accomplishments, how do they deal with sexism, ageism, racism, where do they pursue training or networking or whatever to find their success, what books do they read, what drives them to stay in a male-dominated industry, where do they find support, who mentors them? (excuse the grammar - not in the mood to be correct right now.)
All those questions and more interest me. You put those kinds of women in front of young girls and I bet then you will see STEM grow for young girls, but not by asking questions. And not by always bringing out the female investors because the financial industry is only one aspect of the tech scene. There are so many qualified female engineers, CEO's, trainers, etc. we could be hearing from. Don't be lazy men. Dig beyond your comfort zone when planning a conference or a panel and seek out women who intimidate you, who might be more skilled than you, or who will speak their mind.
Show young women and girls, don't tell.
Give women and girls someone to aspire to become. Let them see the future of their lives through the current lives of women they see on panels speaking. Let them hear their voices and their struggles reflected back to them. Let them understand they are not alone. They will find mentors. They will find investors willing to bet on them. They will find success in an industry dominated by men.
As I write this, I write for myself as much as I do for the young women who may read this. Life isn't easy. But it just doesn't have to be this difficult does it? I am still disappointed I won't hear the female founders speak, but maybe it's for the best. Maybe I'm not supposed to be in tech any more. Maybe it's time to think of a new dream/goal. It's been two years. I've given it a great shot. I've worked hard. I've done my research. I've paid my dues. I've built many aspects of this business slowly, but surely.
But maybe it's not enough. Maybe there's something else for me to do.
I just don't know what.
That's all. I'll probably regret typing so much in the morning, but writing is how I process things and especially when I'm deeply disappointed. Crying only relieves certain amounts of pain.
Sometimes you need to share it and by sharing it, feel free of it. I hope this is true. I also hope by attending the goal seminar tomorrow I walk out with either a refreshed vision for my business, or a completely new vision/goal. Because I'm tired. I'm tired of fighting to survive.
I give up. I'm waving the white flag....
Not my will, but thine be done God.
Amen and Good Night.