Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2014

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/385684

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Page 51 of 71

(re)Thinking Diversity The Pipeline Builder The Storyteller AISHA SAEED Author of Written in the Stars, blogger (aishasaeed.com), teacher, and attorney A study by the Cooperative Children's Book Center revealed that, of the more than 3,000 children's books released in 2013, only 7.9 percent contained any diversity. That didn't surprise Aisha Saeed, the mother of two young boys who are Muslim and Pakistani. Long frustrated by the issue, Saeed joined forces with a handful of others who felt the same way. "People began joining in on this conversation on social media," Saeed said. "And [author] Ellen Oh said, 'Let's raise our voices into a roar that can't be ignored.'" So Saeed tapped out the frst tweet to launch the awareness campaign #WeNeedDiverse- Books, which went viral, garnering more than 162 million impressions on Twitter alone. The We Need Diverse Books campaign is getting people engaged and also helps promote diverse books like Saeed's forthcoming young adult novel, Written in the Stars (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books), the tale of a young woman being thrust into an unwanted marriage. "I love that [my sons] see the cover of my book and see a young Pakistani American girl juxtaposed against a beautiful mosque in the background," Saeed says. "Such visuals are powerful for young children. I did not have this, and I grew up thinking my stories did not matter. Reading about people who are different from us also serves as a window into perspectives we may never otherwise know. We can learn empathy and respect for one another by simply opening up a good book." ALAINA PERCIVAL CEO and Board Chair, Women Who Code A senior engineer named Sandi had a career highlight moment at Google I/O, a conference attended by thousands of software developers, when the An- droid app she'd built was featured in the keynote address. A junior engineer named Brittany partnered with another woman to compete at a hackathon. Jouhan, an engineer, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area without a plan, but then quickly landed a job in engineering. All three say that they wouldn't have reached their goals without Women Who Code, a global nonproft that helps women excel in tech careers. Helping women make those sorts of leaps is what drives CEO Alaina Percival, who formerly worked at a start-up that was acquired by Yahoo! and currently serves as an advisor to CodePath. To that end, Women Who Code offers technical study groups, hack nights, and panel discussions with industry infuencers. Women make up half the population, but they often rep- resent only 15 to 17 percent of engineers at major tech com- panies. "It is the 'little' things that build up over time that make it harder for women to excel in their tech careers," Percival says. "With gender parity, many of these would simply no longer be accepted as the norm, and women will fnd it easer to stay in and excel in their careers." And that would beneft not just women but also companies. "We are currently on track to be short 1 million engineers by 2020, and some of these roles can easily be made up by getting underrepresented groups properly represented," Percival says. Women Who Code's audacious goal is to connect 1 million women in tech by 2019, and it's well on the way. To date, the organization has held more than 700 events globally for 12,000 members spanning 14 countries— and is growing by 1,000 women per month. 50 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 4 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m

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