When I started my first job out of college, working for a nonprofit organization in Texas, I was completely lost. My education had prepared me for the responsibilities of my role — but not at all for the experience of my first 9-to-5 and everything that came with it. How should I structure my days? What should I wear? How can I progress in my career? How much should I be making? How will I know if I'm on the right track? Turns out, the secret to answering all those questions started with one simple step: Find other women and learn from them.
When a group of ladies gets together, something magical happens. But that kind of female community doesn't happen just by a stroke of luck. It needs to be cultivated, nurtured, and invested in. I've been lucky to find it in many different forms: online, in-person, one-on-one and in groups, locally and internationally. It's been transformative to surround myself with smart women doing amazing things with their talents — particularly in an industry like tech, where it's not uncommon to be the only woman in a room full of men.
Here are four ladies-only groups that have helped me grow personally and professionally. They're all open groups that I would highly recommend that you join, apply to, or attend!
This group walked me through asking for — and receiving — my last raise! PayUp is a private, Slack-based community dedicated to fostering conversations about the gender wage gap. It is a thriving, organic online community of women who are working together to help each other earn more. PayUp largely functions as a chatroom: we help each other work out the specific wording to ask for a promotion, share thoughts on what to wear when all the men around you are in t-shirts and hoodies, host organized Q&As with negotiation experts, and more. It's an ongoing, roundtable discussion about the things that matter most to us as women in tech. Most importantly, it’s a place where you can ask questions and know you’ll be greeted by a community of like-minded ladies who genuinely want you to succeed. Apply here.
Ladies, Wine Design was started by designer Jessica Walsh (of 40 Days of Dating fame) after writing this article as an initiative to foster female creativity. Only 3% percent of creative directors are women, and LW&D wants to help change this through mentorship circles, portfolio reviews, and creative meet-ups. In practice, LW&D is a monthly salon night for a group of creative women. We wine, dine, and have intimate conversations about topics relating to creativity, business, and life. The good news: they have spread to chapters in over 75 cities all over the world, so there's probably one close to you! The events I've attended in Nashville have lead to some of the best conversations I've had over the course of my career — not to mention all the smart, creative ladies that I've gotten the chance to meet through the group! Find your chapter.
The tech industry's lack of diversity has become notorious, and it's no secret that women are underrepresented. Allison Esposito, founder of Tech Ladies, believes the gender gap results from a lack of support for women entering (or hoping to enter) the industry. That barrier is why she started Tech Ladies: to provide women with the resources and community they need to become tech leaders. Tech Ladies has grown into a community that includes 15k+ ladies who work in product, engineering, design, marketing, business development, ops, and more. The group connects women with the best jobs and opportunities in tech — and they connect companies with the best women tech-makers. When you join, you also get access to a secret jobs page, members-only newsletter, and closed Facebook group. Apply here.
Women in Technology Tennessee (WiTT) is shaping the future of tech in Middle Tennessee. WiTT connects women with a community that believes in and advocates for them through education, networking, scholarships and community outreach. This group is an example of how a group of people committed to seeing more women in tech can start to effect real change in their local community. Our marketing agency is currently helping to rebrand WiTT and I've worked closely with them in the development of their messaging platform. It's been an honor to help amplify their message since it's one that I am deeply passionate about, so keep an eye on their website over the next few months! Learn more.
I'm discovering new groups like this all the time so I'd love to know where you go for career advice, how you approach mentorship or answer any questions about the groups I mentioned.