On a recent day, Sandra Jackson sat in a conference room at the company’s New York City office, trying to wrap her head around the changes that had taken place in the industry.
For the first time in her life, she felt confident enough to ask questions about her experience, and about how she felt about the way the media was treating her.
She was not the only Black woman there.
Her fellow executives and reporters were all around her, too.
As Jackson began to speak, a reporter asked what it was like to work for a woman.
Jackson said she had a hard time finding the right words.
“I was like, ‘I don’t even know what to say, it’s so confusing.
It’s so overwhelming,'” Jackson said.
“It was like they were just telling me to sit down, just sit down and shut up.”
Black women make up less than half of the U.S. workforce.
And while women are more likely to be hired for entry-level jobs in tech, it is still rare for women to make the leap into management positions.
In an era where tech is increasingly diverse, where diversity is a top priority, and where the numbers are rapidly growing, Jackson said the industry has “never had” such a level of diversity.
“What happened in the last couple of years, you know, with the hiring, the hiring of the new CEO, the women have just gone from being invisible to being part of the conversation,” Jackson said in a phone interview.
“They’re in the conversation.
They’re part of that conversation, and I think that’s what makes it so much more inclusive and empowering for women.”
Black Women Lead the Way in Technology But the industry’s diversity isn’t the only thing that is changing.
For many, it feels as though Black women are not being taken seriously, and are not having the same opportunities as white women.
“There’s so much pressure to be white, and so many expectations of that, and to be a straight woman, and that that’s going to get you on a pedestal,” said Shoshana Davis, a Black woman who has worked in tech for nearly 20 years.
“And if you’re Black, and you’re in tech — you can’t just be straight.
You have to be strong, and your voice has to be heard, and if you can do that, then that’s a huge bonus.
And that’s not something that Black women can do.”
Black tech companies are starting to face the challenge of addressing the issues of diversity that have been plaguing the industry for decades, including hiring policies that disproportionately target Black people.
“Black people are not seen as the people who are going to create the next billion jobs, so the way you get that first billion is to hire Black people, and when you hire Black talent, then it’s not like, oh, we have to hire people who look like me,” Davis said.
In 2014, a group of Black women led the way in creating a new group in the Black leadership ranks.
The Black Women in Tech group was created to “empower, mentor and empower Black women in the tech industry,” according to the group’s website.
It also aims to “work to end the microaggressions, micro-aggressures, microtransgressions and silencing in our community that perpetuate discrimination, sexism and transphobia.”
“Our goal is to empower Black, Latinx and other underrepresented and underrepresented people in our tech industry, including women and girls, to take a leadership role in our technology companies and create positive change for the industry,” the group said.
The group, which is currently active in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Boston tech communities, is not the first to tackle the issue of microagressions.
In a 2015 survey, the Black Women Entrepreneurship Coalition found that just 13 percent of Black tech founders had experienced microagression.
“So that’s really an important conversation to be having, where we are being listened to, and being listened in,” said Black woman Yolanda Chavis, the CEO of the online platform, WeLoveYourBros, who is also the co-founder of the Black Girls Code project, which aims to empower and mentor women in tech.
In the past year, Chavis has made several calls to action, including an invitation for Black women to join the White Girls Code group, an effort to “support and promote Black women leaders and inspire them to take leadership roles in the STEM fields,” and a call for Black men to join in the #BringBackTheTech hashtag, which was launched by former Vice President Joe Biden and was started in support of women who are currently facing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Chavis said she was struck by the fact that the calls for women were being made in a place where she was in her 20s and not at all familiar with the culture. “To have