Throughout its history, information technology has been a man’s world. You’d think the most modern of industries would have relatively enlightened attitudes, but not so.
Disappointing. Maddening. But you’d think that the (allegedly) most enlightened of high-tech wannabes, Burlington, would actively promote the role of women in high tech. It is, after all, the Queen City, yo.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is trying to revitalize BTV Ignite, the two-year-old initiative to turn the city’s high-speed Internet infrastructure into an economic engine. He’s appointed a new Executive Director; more on that in a moment. There’s also a new Board of Directors, and guess what?They’re all men.
Stephen, Dan, Neale, Charles, Peter, Jonathan, and Tom.
Well hey, at least they’ll be able to tell dirty jokes and hold board meetings in the sauna.
Jesus Christ, Miro. Did you even think about this? Couldn’t you have found a token woman, at the very least?
Or maybe ask Neale Lunderville to wear heels?
Speaking of Neale, it’s so nice to see Miro continuing to promote his favorite Republican. The rest of the BoD consists mainly of Usual Suspects: Tom Torti of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Telecom interim GM Stephen Barraclough, CEDO director Peter Owens, UVM Health Network VP Charles Miceli, and Dan Harvey of the UVM Vice President for Research’s office. There’s also Jonathan Rajewski, Associte Professor of IT at Champlain College. At least he, we can assume, was selected for his expertise more than his institutional connections.
Looking at this from outside, it looks like the primary qualification for the Ignite BoD is not IT knowledge or connections or experience — it’s being part of The Club.
The Boys’ Club.
Speaking of which, let’s circle back to BTV Ignite’s new Executive Director, the just-retired police chief Michael Schirling.
Wait. The city’s top cop is suddenly an info-tech guru?
Seven Days has the evidence, and it’s pretty damn weak:
Schirling, who started with the Burlington Police Department in 1992, has always been known as something of a tech geek. He was heavily involved in the inception of that state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and designed a records management system for the department after becoming frustrated with the available options.
The reference to “always been known as something of a tech geek” refers to an earlier Seven Days article about Schirling’s retirement as police chief. That article says Schirling is “a self-described computer geek.” Hm. To me, that has something of a dog-chasing-its-tail vibe.
I dunno, maybe being a “self-described computer geek” is sufficient qualification to lead the charge for Burlington’s technology economy. But it seems more like the city’s Mutual Backscratching Society at work. A mere three months after his retirement, Schirling gets parachuted into a new job with a higher salary?
(The new job pays $120,000 a year. A quick Google search didn’t reveal Schirling’s final salary as police chief, but his successor is starting at $114,000 a year. Safe to assume Schirling wasn’t making more than that; probably less.)
Again, I’m an outsider. Maybe I’m missing a huge set of qualifications that make these *men* the best choices for their positions. But it smells of small-town insider politics.
And institutional sexism.