Supporting Women in Tech
After 10 years in the entertainment industry, I can definitely say that the tech industry isn’t much different.
You will spend a good chunk of your career with stars in your eyes chasing the “Catch-22” of skills and experience waiting for the day that you’re ‘discovered’ and get whisked away to some top startup and/or ‘Big-4’ tech conglomerate.
And just like some fabled “Hollywood,” “Silicon Valley” will continue to be a talent’s pipeline dream for many who’ve yet to pay their dues. Dues that are often more complex for some, rather than others.
Let me explain…
When I started modeling, I was met with a litany of refrains as to why I would never succeed as a short, plus-sized girl whose look went against the industry ideal.
I went on to succeed in modeling, because I refused to listen to what the industry had defined as appropriate. This wasn’t easy because I often had to create my own opportunities while still conforming to an ever-changing court of opinion’s notion as to what it meant to even be a “model.”
“You can’t be a model unless you’ve had a paid gig.”
I found a photographer that went to my college who was offering paid shoots to help build his portfolio.
“You can’t be a real model unless you’ve been in print.”
A friend tipped me off to a publication that was taking images for a feature. (I appeared in international print for the first time when I was 19 years old.)
“You can’t be a real model unless you have an agent.”
By the time I finished, had 1 brick and mortar agency and 3 specialty talent agencies that represented me.
“You can’t be a real model unless it pays the bills.”
I spent several years paying Uncle Sam income taxes as a “performing artist.”
…And the list went on.
Now that I’m pursuing my Bachelor’s in Software Development, I’m met with many of the same challenges:
“You can’t be a successful engineer unless you go to the right college.”
“You can’t be a successful engineer unless you’re accepted to the right internship.”
“You can’t be a successful engineer unless you attend the right hackathons.”
“You can’t be a successful engineer unless you network at the right events.”
For some, these opportunities are very accessible. For others, we have to spend substantial time (struggle) to carve these opportunities out.
Many, will just quit because it’s too difficult for them to imagine even starting.
And this is where I get back to the title of my post “supporting women in tech.” You see, this is about supporting your female (or female-identifying) co-workers, friends, and family who work in the tech industry regardless of the “technical-level” of their role. (P.S.- There is no skill difference.)
You can help them find these opportunities. Possibly, even help create them.
Most important, you can help them realize that they’re not alone in this!