Partner Insight: Supporting Women in Tech with Tech Ladies
We caught up with Hannah Levy, Community Manager for Tech Ladies, one of Empower Work’s partners. She shared insights on the challenges and opportunities faced by women in tech, how Empower Work aligns with their mission to support women and connect them to the best opportunities in tech, and offered advice for other organizations and companies looking to bring Empower Work to their community!
How did your partnership with Empower Work begin?
Tech Ladies is an online community of over 50,000 women and non-binary folks spanning our job board and Facebook community. We provide online networking opportunities and support for difficult work situations—our community is a safe space for people to ask questions about everything from salary negotiations to dealing with discrimination, and we see a lot of engagement and advice shared. We also offer the opportunity for people to post “Anonymous Asks” in case they aren’t comfortable posting publicly.
When I heard about Empower Work, I immediately connected with the approach and understood the value for our community. While Tech Ladies offers crowdsourced wisdom, I know that it’s also useful for women to get the type of 1-on-1 support from a trained counselor that Empower Work offers.
We started first by putting Empower Work’s contact information in our template response for the Anonymous Asks, since we knew that women who were writing in would benefit from getting additional support. After receiving positive feedback from our community, we continued to build our partnership, collaborating to host webinars and events around things like navigating toxic work situations and building solid relationships at work. Empower Work is one of the only other organizations that I’ve seen help fill the gap of direct need and longer-term investment in skills-building.
Why is this kind of support particularly important for women in tech?
Women hold less than a fifth of technical roles in the tech industry. This means in smaller startups (or even on teams at larger companies!) some women may be the solo woman on their team. Plus, not only is it difficult to get into tech as a woman or non-binary person, but once women do get in, they face other challenges like bias, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Many companies don’t prioritize building inclusive teams and often don’t have HR departments. Not having that support can be incredibly hard, frustrating, and isolating.
That’s why we built Tech Ladies—to close the gender and networking gap in tech. We know that if your network isn’t strong, you’ll suffer in your career. I like to think that women and non-binary folk all need a “support stack”: you may have Tech Ladies, Empower Work, close co-workers, and maybe a private industry Slack channel you’re part of. This will look different for everyone. Tech Ladies and Empower Work pair really well together as part of that holistic stack.
We hear from community members that even the act of joining Tech Ladies and seeing the Facebook feed or opening a newsletter makes them feel less alone. Likewise, reaching out to an Empower Work peer counselor can help decrease that sense of isolation.
How has Empower Work helped support Tech Ladies’ larger goal of keeping women in tech on the pathway to opportunities?
As a community moderator, I often see people saying, “This advice is great—but what else can I do?” It feels really rewarding to offer Empower Work as an additional channel for support. It’s a simple action someone can take, and the fact that it’s SMS makes it accessible even during stressful situations.
I’ve noticed that one of the biggest things that causes frustration during a difficult work situation is inertia—the inability to move forward. After talking to friends, coworkers, and even lawyers, people sometimes still find it hard to make a decision. Most people in Tech Ladies are extremely proactive and want to take some kind of action that makes them feel in control and empowered.
Reaching out to Empower Work is a tangible next step and the 1-on-1 support is really set up to coach people through the difficult situation they’re facing in real-time. It’s actionable, positive, and proactive—all in all, very aligned with Tech Ladies’ mission!
What advice would you give other organizations looking to partner with Empower Work?
Start rolling Empower Work to small parts of your community first, since sharing the contact information is so quick and easy to do. Based on the feedback you get, you can expand and branch out from there. We started with Anonymous Asks on our Facebook group, and have since introduced webinars, events, and additional resources in collaboration with Empower Work.
Getting started is easier than you might think. Initially, I simply added this blurb about Empower Work to our existing response template:
If you feel like you need additional help, you should check out Empower Work (www.empowerwork.org) - founded by a fellow Tech Lady! They have free, anonymous work support via text or web chat that immediately connects to trained peer counselors. It's pretty easy to text 510-674-1414 to talk through your situation in real time.
Map out points in your client, community, or customer journey, and figure out where in that journey Empower Work could help make an impact. If you send a monthly newsletter, try mentioning Empower Work at the bottom of it. If you have a support ticket, try adding Empower Work to the response templates. Ask yourself: where does it make sense to bake Empower Work into the support or outreach you’re already offering?
What else would you add?
Both Empower Work and Tech Ladies are manifesting their missions in creative ways to meet people where they are—both at times of urgent need as well as for long-term skill-building and support. I like to think of it like this: When you sprain your ankle, you need urgent care, but on a day-to-day basis also need to exercise and to proactively engage in your physical health. The beauty of our partnership is that we’re providing the support for both urgent situations as well as proactive, ongoing self-investment for your career.