I am a Diversity Candidate

I am a Hispanic woman without a college education. I lived in poverty, as defined by the US Census Bureau, until I was 19 years old. Regardless of where I’m at today, my income or the opportunities I’m now awarded, I will always be a Diversity Candidate.

I will spare you (today!) the stories about getting in this industry despite my background. Today, I’m responding to Bindu Reddy’s TechCrunch post I Don’t Want To Be A Diversity Candidate. While many parts created an immediate gut reaction (and not in the “you go girl!” way), rather than picking it apart I will focus on this sentence:

  “I am not really sure we should worry about the lack of women in tech any more than worrying about why there are not more female truck drivers or more male nurses.”

You know why there should be more women in Tech? Because tech jobs are awesome. Because women deserve the benefits and privileges that being in Tech are awarded. Because for some lucky reason right now is the best time to be in this industry, and getting in now may mean you have that privilege for the rest of your career.

I pushed myself in to this industry, and as a result I live a life of privilege that I only dreamed while growing up as a “Diversity Candidate.”  These are some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed over the last 14 years:

  • Flexibile work hours
  • Telecommuting
  • Unlimited/unaccounted vacation days
  • Tech gadgets – phones, laptops, web cams
  • Snacks/drinks/Catered meals. Never-ending caffeine
  • Massages, gym membership, yoga, meditation and other health focused activities
  • Opportunity to meet and talk with the very best in their fields
  • Relocation to awesome cities (Seattle, San Francisco)
  • Continuous work through 2 market crashes
  • Networking opportunities – getting connected with other passionate techies in up and coming fields
  • I am passionate about the products I support
  • Having a baby does not mean choosing a career or a child

These benefits treat me humanely, allow me to keep a healthy work/life balance and care for my family, but they are the exception in our country. Until the “woman dominated” fields afford the same luxuries as the male dominated field of Tech, we should be worried. These are our mothers, sisters and daughters – why would we be OK accepting anything less than the most awesome for them and us?

I encourage anyone – women, men, educated or not – to find a way in to this career. This is not about whether or not you’re good at math or you have a CS degree, or whether you received a scholarship, money or opportunity due to your race, sex or class. Tech needs all kinds. I’ve never (to my knowledge) been hired or educated due to a quota. I have had, throughout my career, particular people who have reached out to give me a hand where I otherwise may have been lost or missed an opportunity. For those people, I’m extremely grateful.  I encourage you to be aware of and take any opportunities given. You, your family and Tech will benefit in the end.

10 responses to “I am a Diversity Candidate”

  1. Connie Mortara Avatar
    Connie Mortara

    You rock, Lisa. XOXO

  2. You also forgot to mention, you’re an inspiration! Thanks so much for this post. 🙂

  3. Rock on! I took the long and winding route to software development and engineering management from an English degree for exactly the reasons you mention (in short: I LOVE IT). If I help make the tech industry more diverse, great. I often wonder if I do, though; depends on how you measure diversity. 🙂

  4. Christina Hanson Avatar
    Christina Hanson

    This is so perfect! You deserve your success. Much love.

  5. Rock on, Lisa! I am proud of you, and you make very good points here.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. I enjoyed the benefits you describe without appreciating them as a young, single techie; as a bit of an older, wiser techie with a family (who discovered that other industries are not quite as generous with things like flexibility and pay), I absolutely rely on them. I hope to someday get relocated back to the West Coast, too – if anyone in Seattle is hiring, I’m interested! But seriously, great post – I also got into this industry via a circuitous route, but it makes me savor it all the more.

  7. […] more here. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! Filed under: News — […]

  8. This is exactly the reason we started TechGirlz.org. I am posting your blog on our site because you have hit the nail right on the head!

    Congratulations and anytime you want to come to Philadelphia and talk to our 6th-8th graders, please let us know!

  9. I think we should worry about every situation where people are being screwed or treated as less human because of race, class and gender.

    I appreciate your candor and your courage, Lisa. While I’m a white guy (and supposedly can decide to be Superman tomorrow on account of it), I share one big facet of background with you. We do not live in a class-less land of opportunity where to dream it is to become it. That’s the American Myth, upon which the American Dream is founded.

    The way I see it, I got lucky in that I am a brainy person in a time where brainy is an economic (maybe social, too) advantage. Given the range of race, class and gender I see in tech around me, that factor may be more decisive than any other.


  10. […] in tech puts you in a position for high-salary, great benefits and access to further opportunity.  I want more women to do it.  However, the stereotypical tech employee, as depicted in main stream television and film, is a […]

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