Meet James Godbout, our #JWiT2017 Ambassador!

Why I joined #JWiT2017...

During my time in the army, the argument over allowing women in combat arms was in full swing, and it often relied on sexist tropes too inappropriate to repeat here. I had subordinates tell me they’d never wear their Ranger Tab again if a woman passed Ranger School, because it could only mean that they were “lowering the standards for her.” To them, it was the only logical way to explain how a woman could pass Ranger School. When I first joined Army ROTC as a young, 17-year-old college freshman, my own thinking was similar. In fact, I probably continued to think like this well after I graduated from Ranger School in 2011. It wasn’t until I started working with women whose leadership styles were similar to my own that I began to realize how much sexism existed in my workplace. The type of hardened, disciplined, “drill sergeant" personality that is typically viewed as a strength for a man in the military is often seen as a negative for a woman. At the other end of the spectrum, a quiet and reserved female leader in the military is viewed as weak and indecisive, while the same type of male leader is often viewed as confident and thoughtful. As I transition into the civilian world and pursue a post-MBA career in tech, I realize I should have done more to support women in the military. I don’t want to make the same mistake in my new career. With this in mind, when I found out about the Johnson Women in Technology Conference, I knew I wanted to get involved.  

 

What #TechTogether means to me...

When we talk about diversity nowadays, groups who are not the target audience are often left out of the conversation, leading them to feel they are being excluded. This is a grave mistake, and the antithesis of diversity. It leads to people on both sides locking themselves into echo chambers, surrounding themselves with people who look, act, and think similarly. In the end, this creates a more divisive society; not an inclusive one. If we are to move forward as a society, we need to be able to reach across race, gender, and class lines to find a way to involve all people in these important discussions. By doing so, we will be better able to understand different viewpoints and diverse backgrounds that may have led people to develop opinions different from our own. Sharing perspectives may not change others’ opinion on a subject, but it will at least get them to understand and respect your viewpoint. This cross-pollination of thought is the reason that diverse teams are more effective in the workplace, and can only be achieved by including everyone in the discussion. That is why this year’s conference theme, Tech Together, is very important to me. It signifies the importance of including everyone in the discussion about how to increase gender equality in the tech industry.