Great resume, but YOU don’t fit our corporate culture – Bridging the gender and racial gap in technology

 

 

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During my many conversations on bridging the gender and racial gap in technology, a re-occurring theme is, “Hey, I want to hire a diverse workforce, but we have a hard time finding people who fit into our corporate culture.

OK… I’m going to stop you right there and ask, “What you talking about Willis? (You would only get this if you watched the TV Show Different Strokes, and yes I think I’m pretty funny.)  More times than not, my question is met with a blank face, a stumble in words, or a look of embarrassment.  My solution:  Don’t get uptight, don’t become defensive, I come in peace…Let’s talk about it.

Often time the corporate executives I consult with aren’t consciously excluding people,   however the ” culture fit” statement and reaction to my question, suggest an unconscious bias.  That statement is a covert way of saying,:  “Uh, you don’t look or act like anyone who works here, or for that matter anyone in my circle.  So, you may be qualified, but it’s not gonna work here.”

Openly and strategically discussing the “they don’t fit into the culture” statement, has actually lead to great conversations, challenging beliefs, uncovering fear, and hiring great people who help propel the organization to new heights with a wealth of diverse thoughts, talents, and creativity.

When you speak about fitting into the culture do you mean: The candidate is certain race or gender, they’re too old,  have a percieved socio-economic status, don’t look”cool” enough, can’t speak the jargon, don’t like sports, will be the “only” at the company picnic, and the reasoning goes on.

I know the reasons listed may seem a little outlandish, but speaking from experience some of the conversations, I’ve had around corporate culture have been over the top.  I worked at a corporation where my peer, an executive pointed and said, “We treat colored people equally.”  Now, you can’t tell me that he did not have a wild definition of what a cultural fit would be and I’m grateful he didn’t have a decision on hiring me as I would still be embalming people (long story…)

I’m not implying that company culture and values aren’t important, but I’m asking you to pause and ask yourself are you using it as an “excuse” to exclude amazing candidates from the field of technology.

Bottom-line:  I’m suggesting you call a meeting with yourself and then your staff to talk about “this culture fit”…what does it REALLY mean?  Next time you say, “they don’t fit into the culture,” someone might call you on it. What will your answer be?

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Marlin is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology.  Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more.  Marlin also serves as a media contributor on various outlets.  Marlin’s Book and Music Single empowers girls to love and believe in themselves.

Five tips for women who want to learn how to code – Bridging the gender and diversity gap in technology

Sisters Code Logo Thumbnail

 

 

 

 

 

 

20-years ago I literally stumbled into the field of of technology, and my life was transformed.  After college I was an aspiring mortician at a local funeral home.  My day consisted of learning to embalm, consoling grieving families, and even singing and praying at the funerals.  Hey, I was every woman!

Unfortunately coding and technology are often presented in a very complex way, and it’s really not that deep.  A career in technology is accessible, you don’t need a thousand degrees, you don’t have to live in a certain area and you don’t have to look a certain way. As I work on bridging the gender and racial gap in technology, I speak with many women who feel they don’t have access to tech jobs or they lack the confidence to try.  I always say there is power in the first step, so below you will find five fun and easy tips (things you can do today) to move you closer to your technology goals:

1.  Try an introductory class.  No, not a class that costs thousands of dollars.  Before you make that type of investment, I would encourage you to try it out first.  After Sisters Code’s Weekend Website Warrior Classes, we have many women who experience coding “ah-ha” moments and go on to re-career into the field of technology or become tech entrepreneurs.  There are also some women who realize they hate coding, and I also consider that a success as they can now truly find their true life purpose.  Bottom-line:  Find a cost effective local introductory class or try an online option like codeacademy.com.

2.  Speak with other women who are in the field.   When I started my career in technology, it was great to see other women who looked like me in the field.  If you don’t know someone currently working in the tech field, don’t let that stop you.  This is where you get creative.  A few options:  Find a local women technology group, Google or Bing a woman you admire in tech and simply reach out (what’s the worst thing that could happen?)

3.  No apologies allowed.  No, you don’t know how to code.  No, you aren’t even sure what coding is.   Trust me, when I started my career in technology the only thing I knew about coding was how to spell the word.  If you are curious about entering the field of technology, don’t apologize to anyone for what you don’t know.  This is the time where you walk in with your head up high, and ask for what you want.  Focus on what you want to learn and take the necessary steps to get you there.

4.  Show up.  “Coding” is the new cool thing and the new buzz word, which means there are quite a few opportunities to  pick up this new skill.  However, I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every woman who has told me that there aren’t opportunities to learn and/or network.  The table has been set on a national level, now it’s time for you to show up and take your seat at the table.   Show up for classes, conferences, networking events and job fairs.  As the “excuse annihilator,” I can’t think of any excuse for you to stay away.

5.   Tap into your inner Swagger.  My teenage daughter would cringe at my use of that word, but I like it.  My definition of swagger is your confidence, the way you walk into the room, understanding that you deserve the best, etc.   Before you can learn to code or accomplish any other goal for that matter, you must first believe you can.  The underlying belief that you can do this, that you can accomplish this, that you can re-career into the field of technology is important.  It’s the first step…..

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Marlin is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology.  Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more.  Marlin also serves as a media contributor on WDIV’s Live in the D.  Marlin’s Book and Music Single empowers girls to love and believe in themselves.

 

 

 

Gender Diversity in Technology: Why “Awakening the Mature Geek” and targeting women to re-career into the field of technology is essential

Sister Coder "Aha Moment." The moment the code you wrote actually works!

Sister Coder “Aha Moment.” The moment the code you wrote actually works!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

he lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

- See more at: http://www.marlinpage.com/2014/gender-diversity-in-technology-why-awakening-the-mature-geek-and-targeting-older-women-to-re-career-into-the-field-of-tech-is-essential/#sthash.0hcrB0hQ.dpuf

he lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

- See more at: http://www.marlinpage.com/2014/gender-diversity-in-technology-why-awakening-the-mature-geek-and-targeting-older-women-to-re-career-into-the-field-of-tech-is-essential/#sthash.0hcrB0hQ.dpuf