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What’s it really like for women in tech?

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

5 Eye-opening books by female tech professionals

Happy Women’s History Month! Spoiler alert: in the tech industry, celebrating women inherently comes with the knowledge that we also need to do more to make sure female tech workers get a seat at the table. Currently, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce but hold only 25 percent of computing jobs (a number which drops dramatically for Asian, black or Hispanic women) and just 11 percent of executive positions in tech. What’s more, 74 percent of women in computer-related jobs report experiencing gender discrimination at work.

Creating a paradigm shift can feel daunting, but if we all break it down and work together, the tech world can be a more inclusive place for all. Here’s a pretty easy first step – support women and the important work they’re doing in tech fields. You can start by working your way through this handy-dandy reading list that illuminates the lives and challenges of women in tech:

1. Reset

Author: Ellen Pao, Project Include founder and CEO, former Reddit CEO

Why we chose it: If Ellen Pao’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because she made headlines in 2015 for bringing a discrimination case against one of the most powerful venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. She lost her case but went on to have an incredible career and to help define on a national scale what it means to be a successful woman in a male-dominated field. Intelligent, transparent and passionate, Pao's book is creating real change for women and people of color.

2. Pivot

Author: Jenny Blake, consultant, former Google program manager and NPR technology commentator

Why we chose it: In Pivot , Blake offers a practical guide to advancing your career. Her model is inspired by the strategies she learned during her time in the Silicon Valley. She advocates that, just like tech companies and startups, individuals need to be agile in order to keep growing and to avoid feeling stuck in a career. She also offers insight into more effective communication and how to embrace change.

3. Technically Wrong

Author: Sara Wachter-Boettcher, web writer, podcaster, Active Voice founder

Why we chose it: Actually, this book’s subtitle – Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech – sort of speaks for itself. Technically Wrong is a close and unapologetic examination of the way today’s tech-pervasive lifestyle fails to honor and sometimes even protect women. Like the gym whose membership database didn’t recognize “Doctor” as a title a female could hold. Or, how the AI in smartphones didn’t recognize “rape” as a crisis word. Seriously, this is book needs your attention.

4. Brotopia

Author: Emily Chang, executive producer, Bloomberg Technology

Why we chose it: A national bestseller, Brotopia made huge waves when it debuted in 2018 and continues to be a relevant, compelling look into the “bro culture” that permeates Silicon Valley. Chang highlights both the powerful women who are paving the way and the high-profile, male-dominant firms that are stifling the movement. She also manages to offer some light at the end of the tunnel in the way of remedies for this seemingly toxic culture.

5. Female Innovators at Work

Author: Danielle Newnham, writer and entrepreneur

Why we chose it: In this timely book, Newnham curates 20 candid interviews from a diverse group of female innovators and entrepreneurs. From mobile technology officers to start-up founders to gaming developers, this book blends engaging anecdotes with practical how-to advice to reveal multiple pathways forward for women in tech. All in all, an excellent view into the lives and work of the women who are leading the charge.

Happy reading, friends! Let’s use this month to start creating some meaningful change in tech.

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