Skill Level Beginner
(upbeat music) - Welcome, and thank you all so much for participating in today's conversation on women transforming tech. I'm Soumya, I'm a software engineer here at LinkedIn. We're going to be hearing questions from a diverse set of women in tech. They're at various stages in their career, and they're all looking to hear your stories, and get practical advice from you. But before we get into those questions, I'd like to start us off with a question of my own. Companies are now much more conscious about their diversity initiatives, and that's really great, but on the flip side, sometimes I end up feeling like the token woman in tech who's been included. So what advice do you have for someone in my position, and how can I feel like I actually belong? - I think there's two sides of the question that you're asking. It's a little bit about, how do I maintain my own sense that I belong, because you were hired here for your talent, and what I've found is that sometimes I have a mantra that I remember so if there's undue criticism, or I have to redo something and it feels like it's really not appropriate, but I have to do it anyway, I think to myself, I was hired here to do a job, I'm here to learn, and what else can I do? So part of it is maintaining and remembering that you're hired here because you're talented. And on the flip side, I think part of what you're asking is, tokenism might not necessarily come from you, but from the criticism that you might be feeling from others, and sometimes it might feel like everyone thinks that you are hired for diversity reasons only, and I want to remind you that no workplace is universal. You're always going to find someone who knows you were hired for the true talent you bring, so I would say, find those people. Make sure that when you, or if you do get undue criticism, they're there to help you with that, and you'll find there's so many people in every workplace, even the ones where there are people who might say that about you there are people everywhere who will see you for what you contribute, and want to support you in all that you do. - That's a great answer, and I guess if all fails, do my power poses and pep myself up. - Yeah, and also, part of the thing is remembering that you were hired for a reason for the skillset that you bring in, and not because you're a woman, or you are a woman of color in our case. So reminding yourself again and again about that, and focusing more on the inclusion piece than just the diversity piece, right? How can I bring in diverse ideas, and help in the growth of a product, for example. That's important, so just because you're there, and you have a seat at a table, doesn't mean that your ideas would be taken up and you would be able to further your ideas, so make sure that you're heard, make sure that you bring in what requires to be in that position. - I think often when you feel like a token, and when I've felt that way, one of the things that I try to do is think of it as a leadership opportunity. So I try to reframe that perspective in my mind as a chance to practice legacy leadership. So if I feel like I'm the only, you know, woman of color, or black woman in particular, what can I do to bring more people in behind me, and so I think of it as a really great chance for me to open the door for others, and let folks see that, like, there's not a pipeline issue, and there's not, you know, there shouldn't be that much difficulty finding other women like me. So I think switching that perspective to leadership is critical. - Yeah, that's such a great point, because if I'm the only one at the table, I'm the token, but if there are two of us, I'm not the token anymore.