Team Spotlight: Empowering Black Women in Tech Part 2
What is Project Unicorn all about? Hear from the ladies behind the product (+ more info on our upcoming Product Showcase Day!)
Happy Wednesday and this week, we’re back with Candace, Losa, and Eme! Last time, we got to know more about these three inspiring women and their mission to tackle an issue that’s been around for a very long time: the gap in advocacy and continuous support for black females in the tech industry.
This time, we’re bringing you some career words of advice from the team and diving into Project Unicorn, the product that they are building in the Co.Lab program.
Curious to see the team in person? You might catch them and other teams from COLAB4 this coming weekend in our Product Showcase, where the cohort present their product solutions and more! Sign up and join in on the excitement: https://lu.ma/3eogbk4d
Words of Wisdom
I threw a series of rapid-fire questions to the team, in hopes to catch some good advice for the community on career development and personal growth. On the matter of imposter syndrome, Eme shared an insight she’d recently learned.
“This year has taught me that, it’s essentially all in your head. I recently read a statement that really helped me shape how I see imposter syndrome: ‘the minute you start feeling imposter syndrome, it just means that you’re learning or you’re trying something new. The minute you start feeling it, you’re doing what you should be doing.’”
Imposter syndrome won’t necessarily go away but you can train your mind to put a positive spin on it! One other way to keep the positivity is something Losa advised: “always celebrate your accomplishments, whether they’re big or small. As long as you’re growing, that’s all that matters.”
Photo by Ian Stauffer (Unsplash)
And for the aspiring designers out there?
“And always look for feedback. Whenever you’re designing for something, find a new set of eyes and ask for their input on your work. Because when you’re doing everything by yourself, you’re not allowing other perspectives that can drive your work and that’s really important because we don’t live in a world that is meant for us to be alone, we’re meant to communicate and interact with others.”
For software developers, Candace shared that communication is a key soft skill to have:
“I know this is something people keep saying over and over again but I don’t think the importance of it can be emphasized enough. If you’re on a team, you have a responsibility to your teammates. They’re making the effort and they’re bringing the best to you, so it’s only fair for you to do the same for the team.
It boils down to authenticity and honesty: if you can’t do something or you need help or if you don’t understand, be comfortable in conveying that to the team.”
So what has the team cooked up to tackle this problem?
“We’re no longer putting the button on black women to prove themselves as being good enough for the job,” Eme stated. It’s going to be on the hiring organizations too. “We’re setting up a platform, called Project Unicorn, where hiring managers, who are serious about diversity, and people with influence in companies that care about diversity and inclusion can post job opportunities for black women who are qualified and can apply.
We’re aiming to give these women the same, fair opportunity to go through the recruitment process, even if their names look foreign and difficult to say or if they come from a different background.”
But that’s just the MPV. Losa, Candace, and Eme have big plans for Project Unicorn.
“It’s one thing to get into the job and it’s another thing to progress in the career. That’s another level of barrier.
Let’s say you’re now in the job but maybe because you don’t look similar to your peers, you then don’t have as many networking opportunities or socialize in a non-work setting, which impedes you from learning about new opportunities for growth. You might not meet or know as many people who can potentially be your next mentor or sponsor, which is crucial in career development.
Through Project Unicorn, we want it to be a situation where when these women get into their jobs, they also have someone to assist them. Someone to guide them, advocate for them, speak for them when their voice cannot be heard, push them to keep climbing up.
And we hope that once that individual gets to a successful position, they can in turn pay it forward and guide someone else who’s in the position they were once before. We hope to create and foster this continuous culture of advocacy and black women helping black women.”
What a vision these ladies are creating! It truly hit on the point where there’s currently a lack of active and conscious support for black females in the tech industry. As I sat and listened to each of their thoughts and opinions, I myself could feel that spark of energy and empowerment from the team.
“Besides having the experience of launching something from start to finish, I feel like what we’re building is something that’ll speak for itself. It won’t be just something where I say, ‘I built this product’ – it’ll be something we’re proud of.
Even if it changes the life of one woman, I’ll be glad. Even if it impacts the life of one person, Project Unicorn has done it. We’ve won.”
Well said Eme! This is, no doubt, a prominent problem space to tackle and will bring a positive impact to individuals down the road.
As the team comes down to their final weeks, I’m extremely curious to see how the Project Unicorn platform works. We hope to see more of this platform on Product Showcase Day, along with all the rest of the exciting products created from this cohort.
COLAB5 has officially started but if you’re still interested in joining our program, don't worry: sign up for the COLAB6 season. And as always, don’t follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for career advice in tech, Co.Lab events, and updates!