Yesterday I had the opportunity to give back in my own city of Stockton and speak at a Girls Who Code event. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years! I’m happy that it happened in the city that raised me. The response from the staff, students, and parents was amazing.

(Special thanks to Brenda Amboy for connecting me with the program.)

Let’s talk stats:

  • There is one woman developer for every nineteen men.
  • Only 1-3% of those women are women of color depending on the job function.

Plot twist—many teams are less than 15 people.

As a result, most women do not work in a team with other women who can mentor them directly in their position.

Women Need Women Mentors!

I was lucky to have my mom as an example of a woman in tech but most of my mentors were male. I appreciate them but I also want to thank Cristina Robinson, for being the woman who pulled me up with her and took me under her wing when I was just getting started.

Fighting Imposter Syndrome

I have grown into my role but even after 8 years, I am still confronted with awkward moments of imposter syndrome. When I introduce myself as a developer I’m still told things like, “wow, you don’t look like one” or asked things like “how did ‘we’ get you in here?” at conferences.

I walk in the door knowing I am going to stand out as an exception, not the rule, so naturally, my brown skin has thickened over the years.

As isolating and frustrating as it may be there’s still power in knowing I can write my own ticket out the corporate glass ceiling. I feel that I and other women in tech have a responsibility to run our race and to pull more women up in the next round.

When I look at women like Paty Ventura, Lady Christian Havens, Leticia Campaz, Kayla Ervin, Jessica Cranfill, Vanessa Gray I know things are getting better but we have to keep pulling young women up.

My personal mission

I refuse to let my sister or little cousins walk into conferences as a token, feeling the need to fight for their voice to be heard at the table, or be undervalued by corporate America regardless of their education or level of experience.

My sister is 13 she’s learning to podcast, owns an online necklace business, is learning to blog and find her voice. I didn’t force her to do things, she’s inspired and asks questions I just send her links to the resources.

Tech is one of the most empowering skills you can expose your girls to because they can start where they are.

There is always room to grow and as long as they have a computer & internet access there is an opportunity. I started coding when I was 12! I got paid to design MySpace sites before I learned to drive.

All this to say, if you want your girls to start learning to be their own bosses, start teaching them how to code. Teach them young.

It’s a ticket to independence.

Special thanks to Tom Gerber the Director of Information Technology for Housing Authority County of San Joaquin and Mayor Michael Tubbs for starting the initiative.

For more about the initiative check out hacsj.com/connecthomesjc

Visit the Girls Who Code to donate to their efforts.