13 Reasons Why Women of Color Are Valuable To The World of Tech

Happy Wednesday! 

Can you believe that the first six months of 2017 have already flown by? I hope that you’re well on your way to accomplishing the goals that you’ve set for yourself at the top of the year - and if not, there’s still time to pivot and flourish before Christmas.

I’m super excited to announce that for the next few weeks, I am partnering with Capital One in support of their annual event, Women in Tech Demo Days! This series of events, which will take place in New York City and Washington, D.C., will challenge attendees to build an app that supports women and girls in tech, and then present the project in front of prominent industry leaders. The winner will walk away with a $10,000 General Assembly scholarship for their team plus tickets to Capital One's Women in Tech Experience in Virginia, November 2017!

I will be on hand at the New York City event next weekend, June 16th-17th, and I would love to see you there! Click here to register today for NYC or DC and make sure to use the promo code “WITDDwithChasity” to attend FOR FREE!

Photo: Jusna Perrin

Photo: Jusna Perrin

I will be on hand at the New York City event next weekend, June 16th-17th, and I would love to see you there! Click here to register today for NYC or DC and make sure to use the promo code “WITDDwithChasity” to attend FOR FREE!

It’s no secret that women of color face a number of obstacles within the tech industry. From not receiving adequate funding for our business ventures, to being overlooked for certain career opportunities because of the color of our skin or our perceived lack of education, it is assumed that we aren’t equipped or qualified for technical jobs.

But even with the challenges that come our way, we continue to persist, persevere and prove that we deserve to be present in necessary conversations about the present and future technology. And to prove that there’s no stopping us, I’ve asked a few women in tech that I admire a great deal to share their insight on why women of color are necessary in the technology industry.

  1. Our creativity is unmatched. From developing an intuitive app that retracts text messages sent accidentally to creating apps without code at all, women of color are blazing trails that are unconventional and inspiring. As a community, we tackle everyday problems analytically and practically, providing thoughtful results that will charge audiences and consumers to act.

  2. Our ability to lead might be trendy to others, but it has always been a mainstay. A recent Fortune article argued that black women in leadership is a new “trend” (side eye) but the truth is, we’ve been leaders in our families and communities for centuries. From the classroom to the boardroom to the emergency room, women of color are leaders across various fields and industries. And might I mention, African-American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. Yes, we just might be black Bill Gates in the making.

  3. We’re forward thinking. Pardon the cliché, but the future is right now and we’re not wasting any time making decisions that will impact generations to come. Bozoma Saint John, who recently resigned from Apple Music as its global head of consumer marketing, is now on her way to Uber. While details on her departure have not been released, I would like to assume that she has made this move a strategic one, and will look to do even more impactful work in her new role.

  4. We believe in creating opportunity for ourselves and others. “Don’t let your technology degree, and expectations of what type of person you must be because of it, discourage you from seeking positions that will make you happy!” says Amanda Williams-Bryant, Email Marketing Specialist at National Geographic. “Focus on building transferable skills, whatever your specialty, so that if a position arises at your ‘dream company,’ you will be able to get your foot in the door.”

  5. We’re resilient. Because of the barriers to entry we already face in this industry, we realize that giving up is not an option. Our journey will undoubtedly come with pivots, detours and even hard stops, but we keep going because we know that the end goal is much bigger than ourselves.

  6. We’re intentional. “As a product designer, I focus on the user and try to be intentional about how the decisions I make will impact them,” says Datrianna Meeks, senior product designer at Spotify. “This is necessary because it allows me to help create products that resonate with people rather than alienate them.”

  7. We know our worth, and won’t apologize for making it known. “Know your value and do not give discounts,” says Jessica Santana, co-founder of New York On Tech. “Sure, we face barriers, but sometimes we also stand in our own ways. When you know your value and know what you bring to the table, you will find companies that appreciate you and your skills. You are never stuck.”

  8. Storytelling and communicating with others comes naturally to us. As a journalist that focuses on people of color in tech, I’ve learned that a strong story will always compel others to act. We’re nurturers by nature, so we understand that connecting with our audience authentically is something that cannot be taken for granted. More importantly, we understand the value of telling our own stories, too.

  9. We understand that relationship building is a major key to success. “To foster and nurture relationships based off of values and missions, not just ‘visibility’ and ‘exposure,’ says Melissa Kimble, creator of the #blkcreatives network. “If I can connect with someone on a personal level, that will qualify leads and connections that I make throughout the industry.”

  10. We don’t wait for permission. “Entrepreneurs and techies are known to bend the rules, but as a woman of color in tech, there isn't a blueprint,” says Janel Martinez, co-founder of 2020 Shift and founder of Ain’t I Latina? “For many of us, we're the first in our families and core circle of friends to choose this path. We're blazing a new trail and learning as we go. Tech has taught me to roll with the punches, trust in my skills and fail, dust myself off and try again.”

  11. We know how to adapt to our surroundings. Whether on Capitol Hill or in Silicon Valley, women of color understand that sometimes, code switching is necessary. “My career in tech has taught me that I do my best work when I am myself,” Meeks said. “Being comfortable with my identity is crucial to me doing my job well, but I know that I bring a whole lot more of my personality to my job than I did in previous roles and it has impacted the quality of work I produce.”

  12. We understand that there is value in building community. There are countless resources that women of color have created that serve as support systems within the industry. From Black Girls Code and Black Female Founders, to newsletters like The Plug Daily and Women In Tech that specifically highlight people of color in technology, we recognize the need to cultivate spaces for our advancement in this environment.

  13. The hustle is very real and we’re unapologetic about it. “Fight for everything you feel like you deserve,” says Ariel Lopez, co-founder of 2020Shift. “Whether it was looking for a new job, asking for a promotion or starting my own business, I was never afraid to be aggressive. You have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone, take risks, and step out on faith to get to the next level.”

The challenges that lie ahead in the world of tech may be great, but we refuse to let that stop us from achieving what we know is possible.

Are you a woman in tech? Make sure you join us for Women in Tech Demo Days in New York City (June 16 and 17) or Washington, D.C. (July 21 or 22)! And don’t forget to use my promo code “WITDDwithChasity” to attend FOR FREE!