Susanne Tedrick
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Pivot or Perserver​e?
black in tech

Pivot or Perserver​e?

Last week, I noticed a Twitter post from a Black female engineer who was wondering whether or not to stay in technology. She said the emotional weight of being the “only” in her team of white, male peers was becoming burdensome.

The responses were very interesting. Collectively, everyone felt terrible that she was suffering. But they were divided in how she should proceed. About half advised her to “stay in the fight”, while others strongly suggested taking care of herself first and doing what’s best for her.

Like the others, I was saddened for her. I personally feel that anyone’s pain must be real and palpable to share it very publicly and without pulling any punches. But I was conflicted in what her next step should be.

Should she pivot and try to find a new career in another industry? This may bring her happiness – perhaps briefly, maybe permanently – and better mental health. But as someone pointed out (and to some extent, agree with), Black women face about the same issues of microagressions, subtle and overt racism, and tokenism in many other industries. It wasn’t a given that she would be any happier?

Should she try her best to persevere in her position? Many responders cited that her gifts were needed in tech and she was helping to pave the way for other Black women and girls to flourish in the tech industry. While great, that doesn’t address the central and immediate issue – she’s emotionally drained! I felt that the replies like this were a little off, in that she somehow owed it to others stay in the game and that her own happiness is secondary to the cause.

Ultimately, I feel that she should do what she wants and know that people will support her decision. But I do think that more needs to be done, and more honest dialogue needs to be had about improving the environment for people of color in the workplace, so that we don’t even have to have this conversation.