Women are slowly but surely killin’ the tech game and, of course, when we come together we are that much more powerful. This past week, YouTube hosted the Women of Color in Technology Luncheon, put on by the Digital Diversity Network and it was super refreshing to be in a room full of supportive women sharing their tech stories and encouraging each other to thrive.
The reception was interspersed with a panel including some of tech’s finest: Emily Nishi, director of People Operations, YouTube; Nicole Alston, VP Legal – YouTube; Lili Gangas, chief technology community officer at Kapor Center for Social Impact; Kayra Hopkins, technical director at Pixar Animation Studios; Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story; and Monique Woodard, partner at 500 Startups.
Each woman had powerful advice to spread, but what resonated with me were their 60-second lighting answers when asked by moderator Emily Nishi to impart words of wisdom when it comes to breaking into the technology industry.
Gangas talked about finding those champions within your organization, field, or industry and connecting with them as allies. Not only will they be champions for you, it will encourage you to want to be the champion for someone else.
Woodard pointed out that you can’t be what you can’t see, so role models are extremely important, but don’t be afraid to go where no one has gone. In some cases, you have to blaze your own path, so take that risk.
Honorable mention goes to her quote from earlier in the conversation. “Tech bros are people too.” She encourages you to step outside of your own circle, and connect with people who don’t look like you.
Lafci, visited the concept of the rising tide. “A rising tide raises all ships. At YC, everyone lifted each other up.” She encourages you to look out for each other and be an advocate.
Hopkins, who is also effectively the first black female technical director at Pixar, wants you to work efficiently in the inclusion space. “Include more people in the work that you are doing. Don’t be shy about it. If no one knows what you are working on, they won’t know that you are the person to look to when it’s time to get that raise.”
Alston says, “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Do something that scares you every day. It’s OK to make a mistake. Take the risk and make the mistake.”
Sequoia Blodgett is the Technology Editor for Black Enterprise, Silicon Valley. She is also the founder of 7AM, a lifestyle, media platform, focused on personal development, guided by informed, pop culture.