TechieChic is a startup determined to revolutionize the technology field. TechieChic (pronounced “Techie Chick”) was founded by Erica Baity to address the gender disparity she has witnessed throughout her career in technology. Erica’s passion for inspiring other women to get into and develop within the technology sphere drives her work in TechieChic and HireWomenInTech. TechieChic offers a platform where women can come together to develop their skills and grow professionally alongside being a place for mentorship and support.
What’s the story of TechieChic?
Having been in technology for as long as I have, I was pretty much the only female in a lot of the companies I worked with. In the last company I was at, I was the only female among about 12 guys. We had several openings within the department, but all the resumes we received were from men. That bothered me because these were well-paying positions and I wanted a friend in the office–somebody who looked more like me. That never really materialized, so I began exploring why women are not entering the technology industry. After talking to a few of my friends and people within the industry–asking them why is it still that women are not pursuing this field–I found that most of it was perception. They don’t perceive it to be an industry that’s welcoming to them as women. Even still, it can be difficult for women to relate to the other women they come across in the industry. I started TechieChic as a way to expose women and change the perception of what technology is. You can be really feminine and enjoy technology–I love to program, I love analytical thinking and figuring out problems. That’s how TechieChic began.
What have been the most rewarding and difficult parts of growing TechieChic?
The most rewarding element has been the ideas that come to me as a result of interacting with women who are either already in the field or want to get into the field. Through TechieChic and through my interactions with women in other organizations, it led me to launchHireWomenInTech. That’s the beta application where we get an opportunity to provide services to local women and companies connecting them. If a company has a Hire Women or Women in Tech initiative and they’re looking to recruit female talent, Hire Women in Tech is the platform allowing them to do so. From that, there’s just the opportunities, the adventures, and the different business ideas that flow as a means to spread the word about the gender breakdown or the gender disparity and actually doing something to correct it.
My biggest challenge is believing in myself as well as stepping out of my comfort zone. I didn’t come from a family of entrepreneurs or risk takers, so the biggest challenge is getting over that–believing that as long as I have this vision that I’m passionate about, staying true to it and following my gut, it’s going to be okay. It’s really benefiting someone else. That’s the biggest challenge: just believing in myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Believe it or not, I am an introvert. Having to be social and extroverted and go out and spread the word about TechieChic and HireWomenInTech and bringing people on board that’s difficult. I get fearful of those things, but I challenge myself every time those fears come up.
What’s your vision for TechieChic?
My vision is TechieChic will become consumed by HireWomenInTech (right now, I run those two in parallel), becoming the go-to resource for companies wanting access to women in technology and companies wanting to learn how to interact with women in tech. I say “interact” because you may want to welcome more women into your technical organization, but you may have been all male for years. I’ve worked on all men teams and it’s different. It is very different. Some women are willing to let that slide and some aren’t. You don’t have to change everything about a team, but you have to be mindful of those things that may be found offensive. You want to do a self-check to make sure that your environment is well received for women in tech.
I also envision TechieChic as the go-to training resource for women who are interested in getting into the field, but they may not have the skill set. They can come to TechieChic to learn the skills and get support. If they’re looking for mentors, they can come to TechieChic. If they’re looking for employment or career advice, we’re that resource. I want us to become synonymous with pushing the movement for women in tech forward.
What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Atlanta entrepreneurial ecosystem and how do you want to see it develop?
The Atlanta startup scene has really evolved over the years. I’ve met some really nice people and I will say that they’re very helpful, they’re supportive, and they’re a tight-knit community. If you are a startup in Atlanta, there is always somewhere to go to get the support that you need. There’s always events going on in Atlanta for startups.
If you are a startup, Atlanta is the Silicon Valley of the South. There’s ATDC, Atlanta Tech Village, Hypepotamus. There are so many different avenues and support systems for startups in the Atlanta area that there’s no reason for someone to question where do they begin or what they can do.
The main weakness is that, sometimes because they’re so tightly-knit, there are pockets. Someone who is new, and even possibly an introvert like myself, may find it challenging to break through those barriers. I would like to see it open more for people who are extremely new to the startup scene and who may struggle to interject or push their way through certain barriers.
Continuing reading this piece on pear-a-digms, a thought leadership blog focused on cultivating a culture of connected productivity entrepreneurs, students, business professionals, business owners, and everyone in between. Also, check out TechieChic’s website and sign up for the launch of HireWomenInTech website.
The Author: Kristine Santos. Entrepreneur. Anthropologist. Writer. Runs social media and blogging for Atlanta-based startup PEAR’d, a virtual collaboration ecosystem for entrepreneurs. A vegetarian who’s learning how to sew and wants to know all about your startup. Let’s talk on Twitter@PEARdUP