Being Latina, I have always been in the minority. At school in Tennessee, I felt different. At the media stations I've worked at across the country, I was outnumbered. And while I often times felt like an outsider in these spaces, the truth is that I am not alone. Women—Latina or not—are outnumbered in many spaces, particularly in the tech industry.
I spoke with trailblazing women from different backgrounds and geographic locations, all of whom work in the tech industry and were eager to share their experiences. Our goal? To equip you with tools that'll help your career skyrocket and make your day-to-day more enjoyable.
The truth is that yes, women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech space. According to the Anita Borg Institute, Latina women earn 55 cents for every dollar earned by white men. And when it comes to promotion, that same study shows the women represent approximately 27% of entry level technology jobs and just 14% of jobs at the executive level. However, all the women I spoke with said the same thing: Those of us in the tech space must speak up.
“We have a voice that helps us bring other women in, because now everyone is talking about how to bring more women in," says Silvina Moschini, founder of SheWorks, Yandiki, and Intuic.
That same voice is also crucial when it comes to the technology being created for women.
“There are a lot of tech solutions being created for women but not by women," says Erin Horne McKinney, co-founder and CEO of Black Female Founders (#BFF) and KissIntel.
Rakia Finley, co-founder of FIN Digital, echoed that sentiment, “I have become perfectly comfortable with saying 'this technology doesn't apply to me as a woman or woman of color, you didn't include me in this technology, so how can we fix that'. Though that's not an ideal interaction to have every day, you're fighting for women to be seen as equals at the ground floor of technology."
Help a Woman Out
“Sometimes women are other women's worst enemies. We do not do a fantastic job of creating jobs for other women. We need to elevate each other to create this sort of butterfly effect," Moschini adds. “We need to rely more on mentoring and networking."
Bottom line: “Find a champion—male or female—who is willing to help you break through any glass ceiling that you may find yourself under," says Beth Shah, Head of Business Development at Digital Asset Holdings. “Just because you're good at what you do, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll be successful if you don't have the right leaders championing for you."
So, what makes you good at your job?
Skills. Hard skills. This group told me that to succeed in the technology space, you need to understand the dynamics of how the tech world works—at the minimum—from a conceptual point of view. But really, you should study up big time on data science, coding, and artificial intelligence. Become a subject-matter expert.
“Read, read, read. I knew nothing about derivatives when I entered that world and I spent every waking moment reading books, papers, and commentary. I had to do the same when I got into blockchain," says Shah. “Learning curves are often steep, but reading can really help speed up the process."
Talk Yourself Up
Of course, you can't ignore brushing up on your soft skills either. Networking and communicating were among the top soft skills mentioned throughout my interviews. The runner ups? The importance of self-promotion. “We need to be ok with showing and telling people we're awesome," Finley said.
…and the importance of negotiation.
“I think [negotiation] is the single most important skill a woman (or anyone!) can have in order to be effective," says Netysha Santos, Harvard Law School Negotiation Instructor and Google New Business Development Manager. “It's the backbone for selling your work and ideas internally, but also indispensable externally when your closing deals or simply trying to get things done."