How To Succeed As A Brown Woman In The Tech Industry

On Wednesdays, I like to go back and revisit some of my favourite gems from previous Hypewomen podcast episodes. Nafisa Akabor has been blogging about tech for over a decade. She’s a South African-based woman of colour (WOC) award-winning tech writer.

I talked to her about breaking into the position of being an international tech journalist – and how it came down to hard work over luck.

Nafisa mentioned that she’s usually one of the only women, never mind women of colour, at most of the tech events she attends. How did she get there? So how do you succeed as a female tech journalist?

It started when, unable to study information technology, she continued to pursue tech as a hobby while working her first job writing for a travel mag. Eventually, her hobby (tech writing) was recognised for its excellence – even winning an award.

Nafisa-Akabor how to succeed as a brown woman in tech

What I learned with my conversation with Nafisa is that even the most unlikely candidate can make a passion come to life and turn it into a successful career.

Here are her ten key pointers to turn your true calling into a successful career:

1. Don’t give up.

If you have a passion for something, stay focused on what seems like a ‘hobby’ and do it so excellently that you start getting nominated for awards!

2. Be an autodidact.

While working in for a travel magazine, she started writing citizen journalism about tech on side. Nafisa also taught herself how to code with HTML.

3. Start that blog.

Are you passionate about something? Start putting your enthusiasm out there, and it WILL pay off one day. Whether it just teaches you to communicate your passion coherently, or inspires you to grow your skills in the area that you love, it will be worth it.

4. Be confident.

You’ve put the hours in to learn about what you know best. Don’t doubt yourself or let others doubt you – show that you’re an expert in the field you’ve researched obsessively.

5. Call out discrimination and injustice.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, both back in 2007 when she started and even in 2021, Nafisa has learned to challenge sexist comments or turn down gigs when she can tell she’s just the mandatory diversity hire.

brown women working in tech

6. Set the tone.

Stick to your boundaries. Be that brown baddie with an opinion who won’t be put into a box or stopped from following your dreams.

7. Work hard – stand out.

Put the work in. Even if you feel like your work isn’t recognised for the longest time, your hard work will start to shine and make you stand out.

8. Promote yourself: who else is going to?

Whether you use social media or other platforms to market yourself, be your own hypewoman!

9. Be available to opportunities.

Grab new opportunities with both hands and make sure you’re easy to get in contact with to ensure that if someone loves your work, they can let you know.

10. Be different and unique.

You don’t look like the whitewashed world out there – so don’t pretend to be the same as everyone else. Be proud of your differences.

Whether you want to how to succeed as a brown woman in tech, or simply follow your dream to break into your dream position, Nafisa’s an inspiration.

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Or listen to the original podcast episode here.


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