My Name is Not Diversity or How to Mentor Outside Your Comfort Zone
Last year I had two incidents happen that really made me want to change the face of diversity in tech. After giving a talk I was approached by a person whom I quickly figured out had approached me on behalf of someone else. That someone then told me that she mentors women in tech and was wondering how to mentor minorities.
At another event, I was introduced to a stranger and as the conversation wound down he said “I’m glad to see diversity here.” These moments are tied together in my mind very strongly as to me it screams that in spite of my background, raised middle class by a white mom, and my skills, which got me into tech in the first place, I am considered Diversity.
I feel passionately that minority women in tech need mentors and that those already in tech have a duty to step up for them, even though it means getting out of their comfort zone. How do you mentor minorities? How do you mentor anyone? With kindness and respect.
I see a disconnect but not a great divide. My own mentorship happened by me simply asking questions of someone who was generous with her time and knowledge. This lead to a real, honest friendship of two people who from the outside might not seem like they would have much in common.There is an idea that when a person is different from you, be that ethnicity, gender or background, these are great barriers. I believe that the opposite is true and that in fact, when we find common ground we can make magic.
I would like to share some tips and tricks for mentoring anyone with a different, or diverse background from the mentor. By sharing some easy, thoughtful ways to create connection, rather than focusing on differences.
More women need mentors as they enter the tech world, people who are open, ready and unafraid to share knowledge!
1. How to mentor through connection
2. How to find common ground
3. How to be more open to those of different backgrounds.
Letta Raven is an artist who has been an office drone, a freelance writer, a pastry chef and chocolate evangelist. She now works in tech support and continues to study programming.