In conversation with: The Three Unicorns

A podcast about three black women in tech.

This is the premise behind the Three Unicorns, comprised of Stanford students Michelle McGhee ’18, Lindsey Redd ’17 and Alona King ’17. she++ had the opportunity to sit down with these wonderful women and talk about the podcast, being a minority in tech and their experiences with internships. Over the next four weeks, we will release excerpts of our interview and delve into common themes in Silicon Valley.

Part I: Why Three Unicorns?

A key question to ask ourselves is: why do we need a podcast like the “Three Unicorns”? For the answer, we only need to look around us: Black and Latino workers fill only five per cent of technical roles– roles that require computer science, programming and designing interfaces [New Yorker]

As the tech industry struggles to increase diversity, it is vital that we listen to the voices of underrepresented groups. In the case of the Three Unicorns, Lindsey explains, “I think there are a lot of efforts to create diversity in tech and to have people’s voices be heard but it often occurs in the setting when you’re the only person in the company and there’s a lot of pressure. It’s kind of for a show and not real. Creating this space allows people who don’t have a space to be seen and heard in a way in tech that’s not oppressive, and it’s a space that’s cathartic and fun and cool.”

So, how did you get the idea for the Three Unicorns?

Alona, Michelle, and Lindsey worked at different tech companies in Silicon Valley this past summer and listened, almost exclusively, to podcasts hosted by Black women.

Alona adds, “Then one of us had something happen at work; that’s the thing in Silicon Valley, we’re placed in these situations where we’re the only one who looks like us and comes from our background. I was placed in a situation where almost the entire floor was white men. And I’m listening to this podcast of women who identify as me. So, on our group text, someone brought up that we should have a podcast to talk about this. It would be so wild, so bizarre to talk about all these things happen in Silicon Valley!”

Now that they have released the first two episodes of the Three Unicorns, what sort of impact do they want to see?

Lindsey: I think a lot of it comes from why we use the podcast as our medium. We want to talk to people who are in our position, or about to be in our position– maybe Black women who are in high school. Imagine I listened to this podcast in high school, maybe my path during Stanford would’ve looked completely different. Computer Science didn’t seem like an option for me. I think it’s cathartic for us to sit down, talk and pull out all of our stories and put them out in the world. It’s really rewarding to create a piece of heart to show to people, and for them to love it. I also think it’s really cool that people listen to it, and I think it would be cool if it got more people involved; if more Black women were involved in tech. If Black women could really see their experiences reflected in a different way.

Alona: We would like this project to be a hub for the Black women’s voice in tech, where they can hear this and feel their voice being represented. For our listeners who aren’t black women, I hope that they enjoy our podcast simply by the fact that they’re also in situations where they’re the only one of them. I’m not trying to be “the voice” that’s plastered all over public marketing materials, like the token Black woman at the company. For listeners who aren’t Black women, we want them to have some fellowship over that.

Look out next week for more on our conversation with the Three Unicorns, where we discuss the conflict between internal motivations and societal expectations. Check out new episodes of the Three Unicorns on Soundcloud!


Originally published at sheplusplusblog.tumblr.com.

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