A collection of voices from fellow black female engineers and my own experiences prompted me to write this, it is with my hope that it is well received. This article is intended to be presented as an informational and practical offering of guidance for those who are working alongside a black female engineer within a male-dominated industry. Written with love by a black female software engineer.
In some spaces being a woman is enough of a hurdle to combat. Insert being a black woman and things can get even more interesting. Fortunately, there are spaces where being a black woman has no deciding factor on how she is treated so this article may be a used as a refresher for someone who carries those views. For others, I ask you to have an open-mind and consider applying these steps in order to promote more harmonious work relationships.
1. Talk to her, not at her
Seems simple enough, right? Well, sometimes things are easier said than done. Making a point to engage with your black female coworker will over time start to build a rapport and familiarity with you. It does not have to be an elaborate conversation just enough to get off the ground. The next time you two are plagued with the dreaded isolated long hallway of silence, say something. Do this early on in the work relationship if possible. Practice mindfulness and inclusion. Are you usually quite social and amenable with other coworkers? If so, then extend that same energy when working with your black female team members. Are you more of a technical recluse? While you may not be the office social butterfly, you do share one obvious commonality with her which is technology. Nerd out with your fellow black female engineers! Whether about funny tech memes, code reviews, or new gadgets there are countless ways you can bring her into conversations. Finally, practice patience when forming work relationships, building rapport doesn’t happen overnight .
2. Be consistent, no code switching
This was briefly touched on but I must reiterate, be consistent in how you treat others versus how you treat marginalized groups. Historically, Black Americans have been ostracized in many facets of life. While there has been…