Recently, I became a part of a women in tech group called Sista Circle. Now, I am a part of a lot of tech groups and normally what happens is you get a slew of emails via a list serve, some great, some not so much and that’s about the extent of it but this group is different. They are actively about that action.
Sista Circle was created by Alexandria Butler aka Lexi B., who holds the title of project manager at Airbnb, in an effort to give black women a safe space to connect, network, fellowship, and give/seek support from other black women.Image: Kanoa Utler/Alexandria Butler
As quoted from the Sista Circle’s Facebook page, “While our Diaspora is full of depth of diversity, ideologies, beliefs, and cultures, it is important for us to come together (even if only virtual) and share our love and support for each other.”
Black Enterprise caught up with Butler to find out why she felt the need to create such a strong Afrocentric and women-focused tech group and what her plans are to propel the group forward in the future.
BE: What is your background in tech?
Lexi B: I have been in the tech world my whole career as a program manager, managing projects, and programs in the fields of engineering, finance, marketing, legal and compliance.
BE: What are some of the backgrounds of the women in the group?
LB: They are all working at tech companies or for nonprofits that support tech. We do have a few students who are new to the group and interested in the tech industry.
BE: Why did you feel that creating the Sista Circle group was necessary? There are tons of online tech groups, what makes this one stand out?
LB: There are many fantastic resource groups, especially for marginalized groups and I am a member of them. But I felt as though there was something lacking from these groups—a genuine connection between people coming together. I wanted to create a safe space for black women to not only develop genuine relationships but have deep conversations that go past the usual, “where do you work?” and “I am looking for a job.” I think those conversations are very important as we all would like stable employment, but I want to go past those surface level facts and just get to know inspiring and powerful black women.
I also wanted a space where we could talk about our concerns and possible fears in this very competitive and sometimes jarring industry. It is easy to feel out of place and lonely in a world like Silicon Valley where everything changes so quickly.
BE: What results are you seeing out of the group that have had a direct impact on the circle and community?
LB: Currently, the group has over 400 members and is growing very rapidly. I have to admit that in the beginning, I did not know what would happen. As more members were added, I started organizing pop-up events around the Bay Area for women to meet in person and build meaningful connections. I think this group has the potential to impact our community through unification and just pure fellowship.
I am from the Midwest and I was raised in a community where fellowship provided so much stability. The ability to come together, discussing the latest reality television episode or the latest presidential debate. The ability to brainstorm professional goals and personal relationships. There is something intrinsically powerful about fellowshipping with black women. The professional networking is just a small piece of this group. I am receiving messages and emails from women who are appreciative of the new friendships they have made and fitness groups they have created. Also, this group has become a great landing page for black women new to the tech world and Silicon Valley. It is a place to meet people who are experiencing similar professional journeys and allow them to come to the table as their unique selves without judgment or bias.
BE: What are your long-term goals for the Sista Circle?
LB: The long-term goal is to have chapters throughout the world because I am a strong believer that Silicon Valley is not the only place with tech communities. The tech world is sprouting everywhere and I want black women to be connected to all of these geos. If we could produce social events in different cities and bring women together under this common foundation, it would be ideal.
BE: If a woman was interested in getting involved, how does she gain access to the Sista Circle?
LB: Simple! To gain access, just follow this link and answer the short questionnaire. We want to make sure this is a safe space for black women in tech. Once you are approved, introduce yourself to the group and start connecting. Add a link to an article that interested (or appalled) you this morning. Give us your thoughts on something that happened at work. RSVP to an upcoming event or plan an upcoming event for the Sistas in your city.