Diversity in tech and the problem with mentorship

Allison Esposito of Tech Ladies talks job-hopping and introverted networking

Anchor is the easiest way to record audio and start conversations with people from all around the world. The following questions and answers are transcribed excerpts from an audio interview that was held on Anchor; people in the app asked and Allison answered. We’ve chosen some of our favorite responses from her AMA below; you can download Anchor on iOS (or try our Android Beta) to join the conversation.

Hey everyone! I’m so excited because Anchor invited me to come on here and do an AMA (where you can ask me anything). Really excited to get started with this and to kick it off, I’ll tell you little bit about myself:

I started a community called Tech Ladies. Recently, we launched a website called Hire Tech Ladies and what started as a coffee meet up in New York City with just about 20 women in tech has grown to a group of almost 4,000 women around the world. We have a Facebook community, we do meet ups in New York and San Francisco and we have a website called Hire Tech Ladies which is where you can go browse jobs from companies who specifically want to hire women in tech. I’d love to talk to you about this, or answer any questions you may have about working in tech / working at startups / anything like that. My background is in branding and copywriting and marketing, so feel free to reply to this wave or tweet at Anchor with any questions you may have for me!

Q: Where did you get the idea for Tech Ladies?

When we first started Tech Ladies, it just started as a way to get coffee with some women in tech that I didn’t know. I noticed there were a lot of women on Twitter that worked in tech and different startups that I wanted to meet, but I didn’t really have time to have coffee with everybody one-on-one.

I was thinking, what if I just did a casual coffee and we all met up together one day?

Then we kept doing that month after month, and it just kept growing really really fast through word of mouth, like hundreds and hundreds of women. That’s when it became a Facebook community and then later a website to help people get jobs in tech. So it kind of grew naturally on its own, and everything that we’ve done with Tech Ladies has come out of necessity. We noticed that one of the most successful things was women helping each other get jobs and telling each other which companies were good to work at, so that’s why we launched Hire Tech Ladies as the next part of our journey.

Q: What role, if any, does mentorship play in your work?

I think mentorship is really interesting, but for some reason I just personally don’t relate to the concept of it that much at all, so we haven’t done much with it at Tech Ladies yet.

I think the reason mentorship doesn’t really resonate with me is because there’s something kind of paternalistic about it, like “I am your mentor who knows more than you.” I see successful networking as more “What can we do for each other?”

I could be a mentor to somebody who’s 23, and I have 10 more years of experience than they do, but they’re going to teach me things too. So maybe they’re my mentor?

Why does it have to be structured this way?

Q: What is your view on job-hopping in tech?

I love job hopping in tech, especially for women. That’s part of the reason I think Hire Tech ladies is like a secret weapon for women in tech, because let’s face it:

If you’ve tried and tried asking for a raise and you’re just not getting it and you know you’re worth more, sometimes the best way is to just go somewhere else and get it.

I think job-hopping is especially like a secret weapon for women, although it is timely and costly and consuming. You should stay at your job if you love it and you’re learning and you’re challenged and you’re being taken care of, but if you’re not, then yeah you should job hop.

Job hop as much as you need to take your career to the next level.

Q: Any tips on networking for introverted people?

It’s funny that you ask this, because I am seriously a very deep introvert and I sometimes don’t know how I came to run this meet-up group that hundreds of people come to.

I think just pace yourself, really.

If you’re going to put things on your calendar that you really really want to go to, you gotta find some quiet time to be alone that day so you can recharge, and then go have the energy to go out and be in front of people later.

I think just getting to know yourself really well, and knowing how much of being around people you can realistically commit to is a great way to balance getting that networking in.

There’s also ways to network online from behind the safety of your computer screen, if that’s more your style.

There are a lot more answers from Allison in her full Q&A. You can check out the full conversation here, or download Anchor from the App Store to chime in.

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