50/50 Tech Equity for All Women by 2025!
App Dev Manager Tina Saulsberry reflects on attending the Grace Hopper Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women technologist and asks the question, what will YOU do?
INTELLIGENT! POWERFUL! VALUABLE! WORTHY! INFLUENTIAL! MEANINGFUL! RESPECTED! EQUAL!! Who would have thought that I, a woman, a woman of color in the field of mathematics, science and technology would actually experience these emotions and, indeed, these facts?!!
Last month I had the opportunity to attend my first Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, FL. This conference put on by the AnitaB.org is the world’s largest gathering of women technologist. Over 25,000 women attended lectures given by inspirational keynotes speakers, listened intently in insightful sessions about cutting edge technology, networked with my brilliant peers and gained important resources to help further our careers. Although this conference had plenty of technical content, I personally attended this conference with an eye on leadership and soft skill sessions. For me, the real jewels of this conference were the connections and conversations I had between the keynotes and after the sessions.
I was present at an incredible reception titled “Celebrating Black Women in Technical Roles”. Sad to say that for most of my career, I’ve been the only unicorn in the room . . . that is, the only person of color and the only female. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand with fingers to spare how many times I’ve worked with another female in a similar technical role– and I’ve never worked with another female of color in a similar role. For me, this reception was overwhelming! I wasn’t a unicorn there! The room was filled with powerful, smart, and successful black women in technology. I had a chance to connect with women who had similar plights during their careers. I found it very fulfilling, to take the opportunity to mentor and share with some who were in situations that I faced professionally over 20 years ago alone. Some are in situations where they don’t feel valued . . . their voices aren’t being heard . . . consistently looked over for challenging and exciting projects . . . had others taking credit for their ideas . . . My heart broke as I know, firsthand, how detrimental, limiting and isolating those situations are.
The AnitaB organization is advocating and driving for 50/50 Tech Equity for All Women by 2025. During the conference, many stopped by the AnitaB booth to make their commitment to what they are doing to support this goal. Some notable commitments were to:
- Encourage young girls
- Educate Men to Become our Allies
- Use my privilege to Lift up Others
- Support Mothers in the workforce
- Make sure all voices are heard
- Introduce more Women to Cyber Security
- Advocate to improve the pay gap
- Hire more women
- Advocate for Women of Color Behind Closed Doors
- Get out of my own way by ditching my impostor syndrome
- Connect with the person one step ahead, and the one one step behind
My commitment is to continue telling my unique story and empowering girls in technology. Within Microsoft, I will advocate to lead all technical sessions for the community that targets girls who are underrepresented, under-served and underestimated so that they will see someone that looks like them and know that they too can have a career in technology. Daily, I will demonstrate bravery and authenticity to educate those that I encounter.
Let’s get this conversation started! “What will YOU do to help reach 50/50 Tech Equity for All Women by 2025?”