Lessons to Teach Tech: LinkedIn Speaker Series with Emily Chang

April 12, 2018

With a smartphone in your hand, you have more power at your fingertips than entire generations before you. Few industries have had as visible and global an impact on our everyday lives as compared to “tech.” However, as our most recent Speaker Series guest Emily Chang has come to find, there’s still much progress that needs to be made in order for the industry’s culture to be as progressive as its technology.

Her book, BROTOPIA, focuses on the staggering gender inequality in the tech industry. The data shows that the industry is male-dominated, and Emily shares that she feels those are the same people that the industry attracts, caters to, and rewards. She shared her experience of decades in tech, the research behind BROTOPIA, and her vision for how we can work together to reduce that inequality.

“Women only hold 25% of jobs in tech, make up 7% of investors, and account for 2% of the all of those who receive funding. I don’t believe that only 2% of women have good ideas.”

Historically, women have played a key role in the evolution of technology. Regardless, Emily feels as though the modern tech industry has perpetuated a flawed concept that women don’t possess the characteristics of a “typical tech worker,” based on a study of predominantly male subjects. This has inevitably trickled down to make finding opportunity in tech more difficult for today’s women.

But Emily believes that changing an industry mindset IS possible -- - and it starts with the people in it. In fact it’s already happening on a small scale at companies like Stitch Fix, Eventbrite, and Slack. The (male) founder of Slack, for example, openly advocates for inclusion and equality at the company and beyond, and has been widely applauded for having management that is 50% female.

And while Emily emphasizes that leading from the top is important, you can also help be the change you want to see.

She offered three easy tips for women in any industry that can help make a shift in workplace culture:

  1. Know your value - And if you are somewhere that doesn’t, go somewhere that does. You have so much to offer.

  2. Say something - Drive forward the progress you want to see by starting the discussions that need to happen. The willingness to talk about the issues that you know to be true is a bigger step forward than you may think.

  3. Just be nice to each other - Some things that are often common sense are simply not being applied to the workplace - kindness, equality, and fairness being some of them, all of which will make huge differences in the end

As she wrapped her talk, Emily left us with a thought for some perspective: if there’s a table full of six men, the discussion will be different when you add one woman. If half of the table is female and half of the table is male, the conversation shifts dramatically. These are the types of multi-perspective conversations that should be encouraged, and Emily aims to be among the sparks that will help to keep these discussions ablaze.

Watch the full LinkedIn Speaker Series video, or listen to the podcast.