YouTube Hosts Women of Color in Technology Luncheon

Some of the biggest names in tech came together to share their stories and advice

Technology Luncheon [Emily Nishi, Nicole Alston, Lili Gangas, Kayra Hopkins, Alexandria Lafci, Co-Founder of New Story and Monique Woodard (Image: Black Enterprise/Sequoia Blodgett)]


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.”




SequoiaSequoia 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.

  • What a great article. It’s refreshing to see women of color striving in the technology industry.

    Sticking together and networking is the key. Women of color in technology can benefit greatly from group support because technology changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up with, especially if you are so involved with your own work. Working hard in a technical job tends to lead to tunnel vision because you are so focused with your field of work. As we become smarter and develop more advanced apparatus, technologies from several different fields tend to mesh together so it’s definitely good to find out what’s out there before what’s out there finds you can catches you off guard.

    These women of color in technology are definitely doing their thing and leading the way, they will not be caught off guard.

    I’m in the fast changing field of search engine optimization and I constantly network with my peers to stay ahead of the game. This article reinforces the need to outreach and network.

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