No one ever woke up and said, “What’s the hard way to win today? I want that one.” Or maybe someone did. We’ll never know.
The fact is that being African-American, female and pursuing a career in the technology industry is not the easiest thing to do. The adjectives that precede “pursuing a career in the technology industry” are considered more than just description; they are statements that people will use when they try to discredit your abilities. When said by the wrong people, these two simple adjectives may even become accusations. Still, we move.
“One of the lessons that I grew up with was
to always stay true to yourself and
never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”
– Michelle Obama
Research shows that women are more than two times likely to quit tech. several are treated unfairly, and passed over for promotions. In fact, 42% of the black women in the technology industry feel that they are being held back in the companies where they work. While men receive action points, women on the other hand mostly receive criticism of their personalities in evaluations.
Being female, of course, means that the world (your family included) may have already assigned you in a role in the world of work, and it is almost never in the technology industry. I don’t think many parents look at their female kids, sigh and say, “I hope she becomes a data analyst. I would be so proud.”
Being black may mean that you are considered a little too hip hop for the many uptight firms around. Many companies are still having trouble embracing the artistic difference of black people; the hair, the fashion style, the whole package. In the opinions of a lot of people, you just don’t look serious enough.
All of this is compounded by the fact that you have to work twice as hard as your non-female, non-African-American counterparts in the same industry. You may also be mistaken for the receptionist a few times ad asked to get coffee when you’re trying to say something important.
It’s okay. They’re not used to who you are; but they will be, girl.
Here’s why you should not give up and try your hand at teaching just yet;
You are the Game Changer
The world may not know it, but it needs more black women in technology. You’re the one who is going to look at your little girls and say, “I hope they build robots.” You are the one who is going to make it easier for other black women to stand out in the technology industry. Be the path opener. In a way, you’re like missionaries. We need more role models for our girls, to give them a more rounded opinion of the world of work. If you’re good at what you do and they don’t want to see it, that’s their problem. Stay in the race, and help to change the direction of the story. It’s 2020, and computers are still considered a boy thing. But you, you fierce creature, you can make anything your thing.
The world of technology needs your color and your vibe. Stay in the race, and we’ll see if we don’t change this.
Sooner or later, the technology industry will be filled by more and more black women. Already there are several black women owned tech companies. The world needs this. An inclusive industry thrives more than any other. The more black women we have creating solutions; the easier life would get.
Most importantly, who’s going to bring the sauce if we don’t?