This is what you need to be a woman in tech.
As I sat down to write this post, I cleared off my desk, turned up the newest HAIM, and attempted to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw. I figured it would be prudent to start with a big, broad statement to kick things off… “Tech doesn’t need you.” No, no. I’m not really even sure what that means. “You don’t need tech.” Oh goodness, that’s even worse. Okay, just type something. Anything. Suddenly, all the gusto and excitement from my (measly) one blog post disappeared as abruptly as Berger with his Post-It (I promise that’s the end of the Sex in the City references).
So, I stepped back for a moment to wade through my spiraling fears, questions, and concerns. And in parsing it all out, I stumbled upon a glimmer of clarity. This moment — this terribly uncomfortable, perhaps even painful moment, of asking, “what makes me think I can do this or that this even matters? What if this fails? Am I good enough?” — is exactly what keeps so many (me included) from doing big, scary things. For many women, it prevents them from pursuing a big, scary career in technology.
But here’s the thing: tech is built upon a foundation of big, scary ideas, dreams, and visions that promise to shake it all up, to upend your comfortable understanding and framework and replace it with something new and unknown. And those who dare to give life to these ideas and put them in motion regardless, create technology.
Upon arriving at this understanding, I searched for the testimonies of fellow women in tech to hear what they may have to say. “Female tech founders 2017,” go.
I read interviews of female founders (Leura Fine of Laurel & Wolf, Kara Goldin of Hint Water, Ariel Kaye of Parachute) and found central sentiments tying them together:
“No matter what the challenge may be, I believe the most valuable takeaway is learning from these experiences in order to evolve and grow as a leader.” — Leura Fine
“One day I just woke up and said, ‘I can do this. I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff before and I can go and do this.’” — Kara Goldin
“I knew that no matter what I did, I wanted to make an impact…I believed could make a difference.” — Ariel Kaye
Leura, Kara, and Ariel had big, scary ideas that were met with looming obstacles and obscurity. They didn’t know how it was all going to come together in the end. They were short on resources. They wrestled with complex questions. And yet they believed, they knew, that no matter what they could do it.
The very nature of technology requires an adaptive attitude that responds to ambiguity with certainty. Tech needs women who stare down the question of “what is possible?” and respond with, “I’m not quite sure. But I know that I have a place here, a voice that deserves to be part of the conversation, an idea worth pursuing, and I can figure it out.”
Our level of understanding does not correlate to our worth or potential for success. In truth, we will never have all the answers. We don’t know the shape of the next disruptive technology. We don’t know how others will respond to a new face sitting around the boardroom table. We don’t know if anyone will read our blog, download our app or buy our product.
But here’s what we do know: it takes guts and grit, toughness and trust, to commit to something boundless and shifting like a big, scary idea. But that’s exactly what’s required to be a woman in tech.