by: Rebecca Gray, Guest Contributor
It’s an age-old story that doesn’t seem to be changing fast enough: women are struggling to get a foothold in the tech industry. This is especially true for women of color who have had to contend with both gender and racial bias. Yet, the good news is that change is happening, and today many women are succeeding in forging top careers in the tech industry. Here are four women of color who are making a name for themselves in the male-dominated tech industry-- they are undoubtedly opening the door for more women to succeed in the future.
Sherly Veras: Sherly Veras, a digital marketer, is succeeding in the tech industry. Yet, as a woman of color she faced many challenges to reach her position. In her article on Medium, she recalls being rejected a number of times by prospective employers, and being only considered for roles in Latin American sales because of her fluency in Spanish. She is a marketing associate at the Tech Connection, and is now helping fellow women achieve their dreams in the tech industry.
Veronica Salinas: Veronica Salinas is another success story that can inspire women to pursue their dreams in the tech industry. A native of Chihuahua, Mexico, she was a software development manager for Compuware, in charge of developing and maintaining data management software solutions. Salinas’s bio on Diversity Careers details how she started working for Compuware in 2006 as a technical support representative, then climbed the ranks thanks to her skills and sheer force of will. She admits, though, that she was discriminated against many times on her journey. Now, she is the application delivery manager at Meridian, where she manages a large team of developers.
Mary Dianne Simmons: Mary Dianne Simmons is an IT enterprise infrastructure services director at FedEx. Unlike Veras and Salinas, Simmons says that being a woman of color has never been an issue, particularly at FedEx. She goes on to credit the company’s “rich, people-oriented culture,” before pointing out how her inner drive allows her to embrace challenges and turn them into opportunities. Simmons’s case is, sadly, an exception, as not many are as fortunate as her. The norm nowadays is that gender and race factor into the equation, and that is something many women of color still have to deal with on a consistent basis.
Kathryn Finney: Before moving into the tech industry, Yale University alumna Kathryn Finney was a budget fashionista, an aspiring entrepreneur supporting other women-led startups, and a lifestyle and fashion blogger. She eventually sold her blog, and in 2013 founded her own social enterprise: digitalundivided. Since then, Finney’s start-up has raised more than $25 million to finance and train women of color who want to make names for themselves in the tech industry and learn about entrepreneurship.
The efforts of the women in this list are timely given how women are chronically underrepresented at every stage of the tech industry. According to ‘Closing the Gender Gap in the Tech Sector’, a report by Rebooting Representation, only 26% of jobs in computing are filled by female employees, while a mere 11% of senior leadership roles go to women. This report underlines how women remain a minority in the tech industry. Given this reality, imagine how much more difficult it is for women of color to get a foot in the door. Without an active change within the tech industry, the gender gap in tech will widen even more, especially since jobs within the industry are expected to increase in the coming years. In Maryville University’s ‘Industry Outlook for Software Developers’, it is predicted that by 2024, there will be 1.1 million computing-related job openings. There are plenty of opportunities out there, but the sad truth is that women of color have to fight harder than their competition to open the same doors.
Nevertheless, Veras and company are taming the tech industry, proving beyond any doubt that they can succeed in a (so far) male-dominated world. The talent is out there -- it is just that the doors need to be fairly opened for them to succeed.
Rebecca Gray is a business tech writer. Her main interest is reading and writing about how women have transformed technology. She hopes that her articles will act as an inspiration and guide for those who want to understand the latest developments in technology and learn how they can apply these new concepts to their own career or business.