Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators by Susanne Tedrick

The book seeks to inform and inspire women of color to pursue tech careers. The book describes the wide variety of popular tech careers (beyond coding/software engineering) that exist and practical tips/resources on how to prepare for them. The book also speaks candidly about the particular challenges women of color have cited as reasons to either not pursue tech, or leave tech altogether, and attempts to give readers advice and strategies on how to navigate them. This is so that readers not just survive, but thrive in their tech careers.
Excerpt: It is probably no surprise to you that there is a lack of women in technical careers within the United States. If you performed a general web search on “women in technology,” you will find numerous articles, studies, podcasts, and more that point out this deficiency. In a 2019 study from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), the number of women in computing professions has remained relatively stagnant at 25 percent since 2007. While tech companies have made great strides in increasing the number of women in technical roles, it’s disappointing considering that women make up nearly 60 percent of the total US workforce. What does not get reported, or at least not very often, is the lack of women of color in technical roles

Susanne Tedrick is a technical specialist for a Fortune 50 technology firm. In her work, Susanne helps organizations understand the benefits of creating cloud-native software applications and modernizing their existing IT infrastructure through cloud computing and tackling the complexities that come with the process.

Fiercely committed to community service and increasing participation of women and people of color in STEM educational and professional opportunities, she performs volunteer work for P-TECH and Black Girls Code.

Susanne was the winner of CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professional’s 2018 Rising Star of the Year Award and a 2019 nominee for CompTIA Advancing Women in Technology Mentorship Guide Spotlight Award for her dedication in advancing the careers of future technologists.

Get to know Susanne:

What impact, if any, have the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmed Arbery and Breonna Taylor had on the tech industry?


 Their deaths have caused a larger examination on the systemic racism and barriers that black people face in many domains, not just in criminal justice. Tech organizations have long talked about increasing diversity and inclusion, but I think these incidents, as well as difficult conversations on how blacks are affected by race every day, have finally pushed them to take action vs. performative allyship and activism. They’re either doubling down, or starting, on doing the hard work of dismantling these unfair systems and examining how they can be better advocates and allies to their black colleagues.


What inspired you to write this book?


The book is largely based on my own experiences transitioning into the tech field. I wanted to give readers a solid guide on the different things they’ll need to focus when developing a tech career. While I spend time talking about important tech areas like artificial intelligence and blockchain, I also talk about where to get skills, how to demonstrate value to potential employers, and strategies on how to cope challenges that black women commonly face in school and the workplace.


How can women of overcome negativity and stay motivated as they pursue tech careers.


For women of color, it is crucial to develop and cultivate a strong network of peers, mentors, advocates, sponsors, and the like. Your network not only provides information on job or educational opportunities, but they are people you’ll turn to when encountering difficulties in your career journey.


How do soft skills help in building a tech career?


Having solid hard skills (skills that can be taught and measured in some way) is important but having soft skills (skills that are gained through experience and harder to measure) is just as important for tech professional skills. Having strong communication, problem solving and leadership abilities – among others – in addition to solid technical skills, can set you apart from your competition.


Aside from coding, what types of careers in tech exist?


Careers can range from business analysis, consulting, cybersecurity, data science, user experience and design, product/project management and much more. These fields require a healthy mix of hard and soft skills, like business and communication. As technology evolves, new fields and positions are being developed over time.


What is the difference between coaching, mentoring and sponsorship?


Coaching focusing on the development of one or two skill areas for a specific and short period of time. Mentoring, whether through a formal program or a casual arrangement, is a relationship that is forged for a longer or indefinite period of time and can focus on a number of skill and career development areas. Sponsorship is where someone who uses their authority, resources and privileges at their disposal that help you to advance in your career.


How do you find coaches, mentors and sponsors?


A good place to find coaches and mentors in specific tech areas is through professional organizations. Many of them host formal programs where you are matched with a seasoned professional. Another place is LinkedIn, and specifically through their Career Advice feature, where you’re matched with other members who are willing to share their expertise.


Finding sponsors takes some time and additional effort. Sponsors are taking on some reputational risk when they advocate on behalf of others; they obviously want to be careful about who they go to bat for. People will need to consistently demonstrate through their work and efforts that they are worth that risk. It’s important to demonstrate your value through means like public speaking, online portfolios and other means.


 Find the Author + Books

Book website: webelongintech.com
Instagram: instagram/susannetedrick4

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