A Women In Tech Manifesto: 3 Tips to Take Away This Women’s History Month
It was the worst of times. Now is the best of times. This May marks six years since I graduated from college. I have worked in several startups, but I do not considered myself a woman in tech — just yet. I can talk about my ambitions, but I am writing to the thousands of women in the tech industry, from the non-technical folks, engineers, and entrepreneurs carving out their own paths to the women out there who are thinking about leaving altogether.
During my post-college life, I have witnessed a movement, at times retroactive, yet promising with the notion that all women are capable of changing the way institutions invest in their communities. Women’s History Month may be over, but like with every cultural heritage month, every American story should be celebrated 24/7. Women must continue rewriting history and here’s how:
Don’t Lean In
I was one of the many folks that read Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean In autobiography when it first came out. I was amused by her candor, life’s mistakes, and unique path to the top. But for a group that has been shunned out of the decision-making process in this industry for far too long, women must not lean in, they must lead in. Women must hold their own in these board and conference rooms and lead the narrative with fervor — performing somersaults and back flips in-between and then proceeding to sit down whenever they feel like it.
When women lean in, even for a split second, they are leaning in well enough to learn how to play the rules set in place by the old boys network, but not long enough to dissolve the pillars of institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and all the other isms that prevent women from making transgenerational progress in the first place. Technology is considered the ‘Great Equalizer’ of our time. If more women invent and execute these new technologies into the world, that means everyone has a brighter chance at success. Then why should women be complacent?
Laugh Until You Don’t Feel Numb Anymore
Rejection is one of those human emotions that can easily get under your skin. The aftermath is nerve-wrecking, but the whole experience can be a tough lesson well-taught in a pool of…. laughs. We women are socially constructed to be perfectionists, hosts of the Imposter Syndrome. And to top it off, we can’t have it all. Women can’t have it all because women are human and the last time I’ve heard, humans are flawed beings living in an unjust world. What we can claim, however, are our own definitions of success. The first step towards success is to laugh. Laugh at your shortcomings and rejection letters. Laugh at the blatant sexist remarks at work. Laugh at your failed MVP. At the end of the day, the price of rejection is just one road block that you must overcome in order to change the status quo.
Diversity of Thought Triumphs All By 2040, it is projected that more non-white minorities will live in this country than at any point of our nation’s history. Millennials will outnumber, if they have started already, the Baby Boomers in the corporate workforce. As this world becomes smaller and more interconnected, the old ways of innovating and settling business matters will hopefully be the thing of the past. To the women in tech out there, today has never been a more pivotal moment to remake history. And while tech companies urgently try to solve their own diversity problems, women must carve out time to invest in themselves; their companies, ideas, relationships, and hard skills. Do not wait for an annual report to go viral to take action. Do it now.
Women, despite our polarizing history, bring an indispensable wealth of knowledge to any professional context. We are an army of intersectional souls — bold, visionary, vulnerable, spiritual, nurturing, pioneering — that are changing the world or are about to embark on that journey. If this isn’t history set in motion, then I must be reading the wrong books.
What is your definition of success?