We interviewed Tomomi Menjo, Community Manager at TechKnowCon on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I currently manage a community for tech enablement leaders called TechKnowCon. Our goal is to create a platform for talented, innovative, and industry leader individuals to share their successes/wins, learnings, and expertise, so others can up level their tech enablement programs. I work on expanding the community, but also finding speakers/presenters who are willing to share their stories, and work on the logistics of hosting virtual events, including Monthly Roundtables, Leader Spotlight Series, and Panel Discussions. Tech enablement is all about knowledge sharing, creating a stronger, aligned, and common understanding on an organizational level through the help of internal subject matter experts. It is so exciting to see TechKnowCon having a large female leader presence, and I am happy to be able to help create that network for leaders to connect and engage with other likely-minded individuals. It’s a humbling experience to manage and support a community that has been helping tech enablement leaders to continue their learning journey.
Though my roles have never been technical, I’ve always worked with technical people and supported companies that are highly technical. I do strongly believe supporting roles in the tech industry are part of the ecosystem and the backbone to their success. Being in the heart of Bay Area, just a few minutes away from Sand Hill Road, I was exposed to the industry on a daily basis, and have had more opportunities for networking and chances of being in tech compared to other parts of the world. Startups and VCs and tech companies have such a strong presence in the area that I naturally started gravitating towards that, and in the process, I’ve met so many talented, successful, and inspiring women who have been kicking ass.
No. I was always interested in marketing and communications, which seems to have its own stereotype and assumption, but I am happy I chose Communications as my major.
Ever since I graduated from Santa Clara University, I have worked in a company that had something to do with tech. From joining a small startup as their first US hire, supporting a startup accelerator program, joining another small startup as their first non-engineer hire and helping and watching them grow to be 120+, I have had amazing experiences wearing multiple hats. The startup I was with for almost 4 years is in the blockchain/Web3.0 field, and that is for sure a male dominant industry, but it was a great experience being a part of an industry leading project. Right before joining PlusPlus, I gained experience being a part of a business development team at a VC firm.
There is definitely a lack of female presence, but I think it’s also important to recognize the roles that are not considered “tech” roles should be included when we talk about “being in tech.” For example, marketing, operation roles and EAs don’t seem to get enough credit, even though they are very crucial and the backbone to a successful tech company.
I think it’s all about provoking more opportunities to kids to be able to try and see if you enjoy it or not. It’s important for schools to offer those opportunities to try more STEM classes. Having exposure to classes and topics at a younger age is necessary in breaking down the barrier in the long run. How would a girl know coding is something she enjoys if she doesn’t know what coding is or what that can unlock for her? If people are not given the opportunity to try, they wouldn’t even know if STEM related jobs are what they want to try to get into after school.
Seeing more and more women in tech speak up and share their stories can be inspiring and encouraging to younger generation. I think the important thing is to share the true, real, stories, not the “nice-to- hear success stories.” Don’t get me wrong, hearing the success stories are always inspiring, but I think it’s more encouraging and inspiring when someone is willing to share their failures, challenges, and how they overcame those obstacles. The real world isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, and in tech especially, it’s so fast paced and work-life balance can seem overwhelming, and hearing about the hardship of being in tech can also be important.
I want to be mindful that a career in tech has multiple meanings, and it’s okay if someone doesn’t want to be in tech either. I think it’s important to note that it’s okay if you don’t know if you want to start a career in tech, or any career path for that matter. Some kids know exactly what they want to study in college, and some kids know exactly what career path they want to take, and that is amazing! But it’s totally okay not to know what you want to do. I think being able to explore, and wanting to explore, is important too.
Don’t be afraid to be confident, and believe in your own gut and feelings. Find your tribe!. It’s so evident in managing TechknowCon that being able to tap on someone’s shoulder to ask a question, ask for help, or simply talk about anything with, helps you tremendously. Many of us have been working remotely for some time now, and even if it’s a virtual community, the fact that you have a group of likely-minded people who are able to help you out gives our community members a sense of belonging and assurance.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and find something that excites you outside of your job. Self care is not selfish! It’s needed for a good work-life balance.
Lastly, it’s okay not to know what you want to do, but know that your opinion, self worth, and your inner strengths are what makes you who you are, not your job title or how much you earn.