women of color- tech

Women of Color in Tech: Breaking the Barriers

Diversity breeds innovation.

Women have been underrepresented in the tech industry for decades. Although it’s improved in recent years, women still make up only about 26 percent of the total computing workforce, and the numbers are even lower for women of color.

There are various reasons for this underrepresentation, ranging from unconscious bias to a lack of mentorship opportunities. But there are also so many women who are breaking through the barriers to make an impact and create change. Read on for a look at five influential women who are making a difference in tech.

Women of Color in Tech Day

Every year, Women of Color in Tech (WOCIT) hosts a day to celebrate the impact and contributions of women of color in tech. The event has featured speakers like Tracy Chou, an engineer who was one of the early employees at Pinterest, and Kimberly Bryant, founder, and CEO of Black Girls Code.

The goal is to raise awareness about the inequalities that exist within the tech industry so that more women of color can enter the field and have a greater opportunity for success.

Overcoming The Challenges Women Of Color Face In The Technology Industry

Women of color face a variety of challenges in the technology industry. They’re usually the only woman on their team, they have to prove themselves constantly.  They often lack the resources or support that their white counterparts have. But there are many women who are overcoming these obstacles to become successful.

For example, many women are breaking through the barriers to hold C-suite positions in company leadership.

Pay Discrepancy

Pay discrepancy is real, and the more we talk about it, the better it will get. It can be uncomfortable to talk about, but the reality in (in many – but not ALL – businesses) is that women of color are getting paid less than their male counterparts in their tech careers.

Women in the tech industry are paid less than their male counterparts. According to a study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, women earn on average $40,000 less per year than men in equivalent positions. The lack of pay disparity is especially evident when it comes to promotions. Women are less likely to be put on a high-profile project or given a leadership role.

  • Native American Women
    • % of All Tech Jobs: .03%
    • $0.60 for Every Dollar
  • Hispanic Women
    • % of All Tech Jobs: 1%
    • $0.57 for Every Dollar
  • Black Women
    • % of All Tech Jobs: 3%
    • $0.64 for Every Dollar

Transparency of pay in the tech spaces is key to combating the pay discrepancy of corporate America.

Negotiate your Salary

Research the going rate and prepare your numbers before the interview. Be aware of how many hours you’ll be working and what work conditions the company offers, such as whether there are flex hours or remote work options.

If you find that you’re being unfairly compensated, negotiate your salary! Whenever possible, outline why you deserve a higher wage based on market rates, your experience level, or if other benefits would offset the cost of living in that area.

Find Mentors

In order to be successful in any industry, you often need mentors. Mentors can help point out your faults and advise how to improve your career. Women of color in the tech industry are no exception. They need mentors who can help them navigate this world, share advice and provide guidance.

You want someone who is knowledgeable about your field, understands where you’re coming from, is passionate about what they do, has a similar background as you, or someone with practical experience because they know what it’s like to be an outsider in a minority group, and encourages young professionals seeking opportunities to become entrepreneurs themselves one day.

Self-Promote

Don’t be afraid to use your position in the industry to promote your work and speak out on issues that matter to you. Use your skills and expertise to help other women in the field by giving them advice, introducing them to opportunities, or recommending them for jobs. You don’t have to be an expert on all topics; just offer whatever it is you know best so that you can help others succeed.

Diversity & Inclusion at 10 Top Tech Companies

Diversity and inclusion are hot topics in tech, with no less than 10 major companies publicly releasing reports detailing their diversity efforts. So far, the focus has been on data, but what about the people behind the numbers?

Underrepresentation of Women of Color in the Tech Industry

Women have been underrepresented in the tech industry for decades, and although it’s improved in recent years, women still make up only about 26 percent of the total computing workforce.

Black Technology Innovators

Olabisi (Bisi) Boyle, VP, Internet of Things (IoT) at Visa

Bisi is the Vice President for Internet of Things (IoT) at Visa. She is responsible for the company’s IoT initiatives and strategy, including global marketing.

Before her current position, Bisi served as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York City.

Before that, she was a Senior Director of Product Innovation at Ericsson, where she held global leadership roles in product development and research and oversaw several key business areas relating to core technologies such as mobile broadband, LTE networks, and smart grids. Bisi also has experience in entrepreneurship: She co-founded TheConnectedCity.com, a community website that focused on helping people find jobs and connect with friends and family while they traveled abroad or during emergencies like natural disasters.

Joy Ofodu, Associate Brand Marketing Manager at Instagram

Joy Ofodu is an Associate Brand Marketing Manager at Instagram, where she leads the brand’s marketing efforts for Africa. Joy left her job as a social media strategist in Nigeria to move to New York City and was welcomed with open arms by the Instagram team.

Before moving to New York, Joy had no tech experience – but that didn’t stop her from breaking through glass ceilings. After a year at Instagram, she managed to secure herself a position as the first-ever  African-based marketer in charge of the account. She has grown the African following on Instagram from 2 million to 5 million followers and helped develop other brands’ followings in Africa.

Blair Presley, Product Management Instructor at General Assembly & Product Management Coach at Blair Presley, LLC

Blair Presley is a product management instructor at General Assembly and a product management coach at Blair Presley, LLC. Blair has taught product management at General Assembly for the past two years. In addition to teaching product management, she focuses on building capacity for diverse talent by providing mentorship, training, and career advice.

You can find her speaking about diversity in tech or volunteering for organizations like Women Who Code and Black Girls Code in her free time.

Michee Smith, Security & Privacy, Product Manager at Google

One woman who is making a difference in tech is Michee Smith. As a security and privacy product manager for Google, she oversees the evaluation of all new products to ensure that they are both safe and secure, including hardware like Chromebooks and software like Android. Her work has had a significant impact on improving the overall safety of Google products.

Helen Adeosun, CEO, President and co-founder of CareAcademy

Helen Adeosun is a Nigerian-born entrepreneur and CEO, President and co-founder of CareAcademy. Helen has been named one of the 100 Most Influential African Women in Technology by Intercontinental Telecoms Group.

CareAcademy is the worldwide leader in continuing online education for healthcare professionals. The company generated over $100 million in annual revenue to date and was ranked as one of the top 10 fastest growing companies by Forbes magazine.

Stephanie Lampkin, Founder and CEO of Blendoor

Blendoor is an app that helps companies hire more diverse candidates, and Stephanie Lampkin is the founder and CEO. She was a software engineer at Pinterest before founding Blendoor to help create more diversity in the tech industry.

Lampkin grew up in Compton, California, as one of four children. Her parents were both educators, and she credits her family’s commitment to education as part of what led her to pursue programming.

She studied computer science at Stanford University and interned at Google after graduation. When Lampkin returned from her internship, she was offered a job but had to turn it down because she was pregnant with her first child.

She left the tech world for about five years before going back to work for Pinterest when it began growing rapidly and needed talent. She spent six years there before leaving again when she felt like she was hitting a ceiling on how much responsibility she would have or be able to take on.

FAQs

What challenges do women face in tech?

There are many challenges that women of color in tech face. One of the most common is a lack of mentorship opportunities.

Since many women in tech are underrepresented, there aren’t as many chances for them to meet others like them or have mentors who can guide them through their career journey.

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias refers to a common phenomenon that occurs when someone automatically associates something positive with people like them and something negative with outsiders. Unconscious bias can influence hiring decisions and other career opportunities, affecting how people network and socialize.

Which tech company is the most diverse?

What are tech companies doing in DEI?

There are a variety of initiatives that tech companies are doing to help with the diversity and inclusion issue. For example, some companies are committed to providing high school students with mentors and internships, as well as sponsoring coding boot camps for low-income women.

Others offer scholarships or cover the cost of tuition for people who want to pursue computer science degrees at universities. And some are demanding that their engineers take unconscious bias training, which helps them recognize their own biases and evaluate how they might be affecting their work.

These efforts may not be perfect, but they’re a start. And it’s inspiring to see so many companies making an effort to make tech more diverse and inclusive for everyone.

 

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