What I Learned at AU 2018

This is gonna be an atypical post. I think I am still processing this, and not 100% sure what to do with it. And it’s not gonna be a shocker to a lot of you, but it came into sharp focus for me… in Las Vegas of all places.

I really enjoy going to conferences and teaching sessions and having nerdy conversations with folks there. I always pick up new tips and clever workflows that I am really excited to take back and kick around.

I’ve been going to Autodesk University consistently for the last few years now, and have taught at most of them. The first few years was all about learning how to speak in public, craft a message, and wear a jacket because I would get all nervous sweaty. I still have a lot to learn on all those items, but I am at the point where I feel way more comfortable just looking out in the audience and having fun.

I don’t think the audience make-up was any different this year, but when I looked out  at the crowd something clicked and I can’t seem to shake it: wow do we in design technology have a diversity issue… or lack of diversity to be more specific.

It was always a big joke that when you go to AU the men’s room line is way longer than the women’s room line. That was funny for a while, but it doesn’t seem funny any more. Clearly the vast majority of attendees are male, and the vast majority of those male attendees are white; full disclosure – just like me.

Why is this a concern? I have seen it personally, but time and time again, leaders across industries that I respect always say that different people from different backgrounds have different solutions to problems, and as someone in an industry that thrives on fixing problems, the more solutions we have the better off we are.

I’m not sure if this post will end up being more controversial than the Demo Is Not a Phase one I did a while ago, and like I said, I think this won’t be shocking to a lot of you and it probably shouldn’t have taken this long to be shocking to me. But it is.

Sorry this isn’t a technical post like the usual ones. I have another outlet for those these days on my work blog (and this is DEFINITELY a “me” post and not a “work” post). I did want to get it out there just to say I am going to do what I can to try to help fix the diversity issue that the design technology practice has and I am 100% open to any help, tips, pointers, or guidance along the way.

Thanks for listening.