Aisha Blake

How to Become a Tech Leader

April 20, 2017

How to Become a Tech Leader | photo courtesy of WOCinTech Chat

Especially if you’re new to the tech industry, it can be difficult to see a path upward (or even forward). How easily any given person can do so depends heavily on their background. What kinds of careers do people in your family usually have? Do you see people that look like you in positions of leadership?

Story time: I was lucky. My mother worked at IBM for 30 years and has always expressed an interest in and aptitude for different kinds of digital technology, even after she’d moved onto roles in sales and management. I never questioned that I’d be able to excel in a technical role, drifting between wanting to be everything from a soccer player to an astronaut to an actress to the president when I was a child. As I got older, I began to more deeply understand the systems of oppression that make being black and female in a technical role a struggle.

my mom at Girl Scout camp

Not every little girl of color has someone to model their career after. Very few can look to a woman of color in a leadership position and plot a course to achieve something similar. Despite the fact that companies that do have women in leadership roles have been proven to perform better in terms of revenue and innovation, there continues to be a very real glass ceiling. Women in tech (and many other industries) walk a thin tightrope. Fall to one side, and we aren’t taken seriously. We’re passed over for leadership roles because others believe us incapable of handling the responsibility. Fall to the other side, and we’re seen as abrasive or “shrill” (nasty women).

How to Become a Tech Leader

We still have so much work to do, but many women are coming together in some truly beautiful ways to continue to make the workforce a less hostile and more productive, supportive space for women to inhabit. I had the honor of speaking as part of a panel made up of Girl Develop It Chapter Leaders recently. In a partnership with PowerToFly, we recorded a webinar called How to Become a Tech Leader in which we discussed our journeys and shared tips and strategies for navigating your own path to leadership. It’s a pretty quick listen, so please check out the webinar!

I’d love to know which points, if any, resonate with you, regardless of the industry you’re in. Comment below with anything you would add to our responses!

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