A few weeks ago, a friend of mine tweeted that he wondered what being a woman of color in any industry was like. I sent him two 140-character answers, but kept thinking about his tweet for a long time. Since it’s International Women’s Day and I’m too sick to celebrate, I’ve decided to expand my thoughts on the subject. The following is my experience and doesn’t speak for all women of color (or all Black women) in tech.

Being a Black woman in tech is hard. You feel even more out out-of-place than other women and try to tone down your personality in order to fit in. You work twice as hard just to feel like you’re doing a good job, then are overlooked in favor of others and can’t tell if it’s because you didn’t work hard enough or because of who you are. Sometimes you find yourself crying at your desk in frustration because you don’t know what’s wrong with you.

Being a Black woman in tech is also rewarding. The odds were stacked against you from the moment you were born but you still made it, which means you have incredible strength. You have the knowledge and determination to build anything you can imagine. You can reach people across the world through your work. You have an important voice.

Despite the bad parts of my experience, I’m very happy to be a part of this industry. I’ve been able to impact others in a way I never thought possible. If you’re also a woman in tech, share your experiences, teach, and encourage other creative women to join the field. When you feel out of place, figure out why, and talk about it. You are an agent of change, and you belong here.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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