Interviewed & edited by Raquel Small

Last week our Head of Community, Raquel Small, attended Tech Inclusion conference in San Francisco to interview people who are moving the needle of Diversity & Inclusion in tech. Meet just 8 amazing womxn from Tech Inclusion, who are each inspiring in their own right:

Chief Human Resources Officer, Symantec

What’s something you’re proud of?

“I’m so proud of my family — I have two daughters and a terrific husband. One of my daughters is 16, a junior in high school, and the other one will be 13 in December. Frankly, we raise them with really strong values because I felt like the best thing I could do as a mom was raise them with self-resilience and self-reliance. If I don’t teach them to think on their own, then I’m not doing the right thing as a citizen of the world. They are my proudest accomplishment.”

Founder at Vogue & Code

What’s something you’re proud of?

“I’m very proud of my company I just started not too long ago. It’s called “Vogue and Code,” and I highlight the non-coding careers in tech because there are so many people who don’t know coding isn’t the only way to break into the field.

In addition, I sell stickers on my site that promote diversity in tech, and that’s been doing really well. I’m especially proud of the stickers because prior to launching my business I couldn’t use Adobe Illustrator to save my life. I taught myself. People ended up loving them, and I really enjoy changing the designs every couple of days, figuring out the style I want. It’s only been 2 weeks, and I’ve beat two of my sales goals already!”

Director of Global Talent, Puppet

How did you get into tech?

“I was an elementary school teacher, and I was using a curriculum mapping software. My school sent me to the company to learn to use it and train other teachers. I ended up really enjoying the company, and a few years later, I decided to work for them.”

What’s something you’re proud of?

“Every single day, you have to convince yourself of your value to your organization, and early in my career, I felt like my value was every single way I contributed on a daily basis. It was a lot of pressure. As my career grows, I find that my value is much more in connecting and getting the voices of others raised in order to drive decision making. I’m really proud I no longer put that stress on myself to always have the answers. Sometimes my value is just showing up.”

Master Certified Coach

What’s something you’re proud of?

“I’m proud of my commitment to hanging in there. I worked on a project, a “Glass Ceiling Study” about the limits on women’s advancement in the workplace. That project was over 25 years ago, and I still see some of the same issues today. But I’m inspired seeing the kind of energy and momentum so many people are bringing to this issue today. These issues only used to be talked about in hidden corners, and now they’re out in the open. We have a long way to go, but we’ve also come so far.”

Lola Catero

What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you deal with it?

“I’m 32 now, and when I first started working I cared a lot about things that I found intellectually stimulating. It was easy to be intellectually stimulated, because things were new and exciting. Over time, I started to ask myself What’s actually going to fulfill me?, especially when I was getting a new job every 2 years (which is very common in tech). I started to ask more introspective questions about what fulfillment looked like to me, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. The challenge is making sure that when I die, I’ll know I was doing something I’m proud of.”

President, First Peoples Fund

How did you get into tech?

“I work with a national organization called First People’s Fund, and we support artists and culture-bearers across the country. I’m not officially in the tech industry, but I work with our artists to get them the business skills to access specific market opportunities.”

What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you deal with it?

“I’m an Indigenous woman; I’m Oglala Lakota, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation. My parents divorced when I was in high school, and we moved to Southern California. I got to observe my mother’s tenacity to survive and make it with so little after moving out of our tribal community. She would get up at 7:00am every morning and be gone before we even left for school to ride a bus for three hours because our car was repossessed. I loved seeing her blossom like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon. Her world opened up so much, even with all the struggles that come with raising five kids and a grandbaby.”

Project Director, ARC Network at Association for Women in Science

What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you deal with it?

“I started my career as a mechanical engineer. When I was working on my PhD, I experienced a lot of microaggressions. I even had faculty tell me that because I came from a historically Black college, I wasn’t as smart as the other people in my institution. I remember walking into my graduate level physics course on the first day of class and the teacher asking me Are you sure you’re in the right place?

After two years of constantly dealing with aggressions, you have trauma. You start to wonder, Is this where I’m supposed to be? That’s what really shifted my focus from solely technical mechanical engineering to developing faculty such that they understand how to help students from all walks of life — especially those in predominantly white institutions that haven’t focused on catering to students of color in the past.”

Diversity and Inclusion Strategist

What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you deal with it?

“My one resolution this year has been to to take better care of myself. For my entire life I’ve been taking care of everyone else and putting me absolute last. In 2017, I started to see the detrimental physical and mental effects this was having on me, so I’ve been hyper-focused on finding better ways to care for myself. It can be anything from creating a morning routine that sets me up for success to going back to therapy to saying “no” more… Now that the year is almost over, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in my happiness and productivity, which I didn’t expect. It’s the oxygen mask metaphor: put on your mask before helping others.”

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10 Questions

10-question interviews with women and non-binary techies of color