A 12 min talk I gave in Aug about changing status quo

I began this year by writing my obituary.

After fourteen years of struggling to fit in to a society moulded to exclude people like me, I realised my obituary was simply a long litany of ‘I made it’.

In February, I had my first panic attack.

I had been thinking about status quo that firmly kept me — an Indian woman — invisible and was suddenly overwhelmed by all the sadness I had hidden away as I tried to fight for my right to be visible.

I knew then I needed a new obituary.

In April, I lost my patience with the almost daily exhibition of egregious behaviour by prominent men in tech. I reached out to a few women expressing my frustration. That discussion resulted in an Open Letter to Men in Tech.

I did not expect media to focus so sharply on us, but it gave all of us who wrote that letter a platform to bring even more awareness for women and people of colour in tech.

In June, I was telling my mom about what had occurred since we published that Open Letter, when my mom sighed:

“Women will never have it better in your lifetime”.

So many had tried and yet here you are fighting for the same right to be treated equally.

“But it is different now” I said, giddy with power after we got Chicago Tech Week to promise to take actions to make it better for Chicago women in tech, “I am going to change it.”

But I needed to change myself first. Most of my friends were white men. I worked mostly with white men. I read articles by white men. I shopped from stores owned by white men. I heard music that were made by white men. I saw movies directed by white men.

In July, all that changed.

My Primary Care Physician and my dentist are now both women.

The team I work with now has more women than it ever did. Most of my friends are women.

I rarely read articles, or hear music by white men. I watch more movies directed by women of colour.

It is December. I want to prove my mom wrong before I die. My obituary is not ready yet.

Like what you read? Give Divya Manian a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.