I had an insight while I was preparing to give a workshop on social media earlier this summer. I was asked to deliver a workshop at a Health and Fitness Events camp for women that was being held to raise money for Wellspring, a cancer care organization. I knew that most of the women there would be around my age and likely a little bit older: women in their fifties. I knew they were mostly professionals, many of whom has grown children and were embarking on a second career, some new entrepreneurs, consultants…in other words, strong, capable, savvy, and INTIMIDATING!
I was fairly certain that my meagre tips on social media would be greeted with some disdain: what could I possibly have to offer that they hadn’t heard before?
I was wrong. I discovered that there is a generation of women, my generation or perhaps the one just before me (I consider myself to be a gen xer, even though there is some debate as to whether gen x starts in 1962, 1963, or 1965): Boomers, who missed the nineties when the internet happened.
They were, like me, having kids. (I’m not suggesting that all women around my age were having kids in the nineties: just that the ones I met at this camp were.)
Unlike me, they weren’t lucky enough to have attended an oddball faculty called Photo-Electric Arts at Art College. I credit my Ontario College of Art experience with having instilled in me a healthy critical awareness of, curiosity about, and familiarity with, then nascent digital culture. I took electronics and computer graphics, I learned how modems worked and more importantly, I was there for the birth of the web with it’s radical democracy and explosion of newsgroups and awkward animated-gif-laden web pages.
So while guys like Steve Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates laid the groundwork for future generations of techies, I realized that if I look around the world I now inhabit, I am one of the very few women my age who has what Mitch Joel calls a “Digital Posture”.
And there are lots of organizations for young women in tech, and young women entrepreneurs, but not so much for older women. It’s like we have been left behind. And what I realized at the camp was that the women I met did not want to be left behind, nor did they deserve to be left behind, but they really, really didn’t want to ask their husbands or their kids for help. I realized that I can help, and we need their voices.
This is an important business niche: helping strong, capable, professional women in their fifties to get good at the tech that surrounds us, to help them do business online (as we all need to do these days). All I need now is a good name for this new business line….