#BUILTBYGIRLS Pairs Young Women With Tech Professionals for Mentorship

March 1, 2019

By Brian Henry

What would the world look like if women had equal say from day one? That's the question at the heart of a new campaign from #BUILTBYGIRLS" that pairs young women with female trailblazers in tech and business.

Nisha Dua, the founder of Verizon-owned #BUILTBYGIRLS, told Cheddar that while there were many programs devoted to getting girls into coding and STEM careers, few gave them direction as to what comes next.

"There's a big question after that: What do I do now with these coding skills? In a world where tech has become increasingly ubiquitous, we found girls asking, how do I take the power of technology, harness change and actually take that into the workplace? We set about thinking, how do we be that next step for girls? What does it look like to be the secret weapon for all these future leaders?"

The campaign gives young women the chance to seek advice from professionals including Angelica Ross of Trans Tech, Lauren Kassan of The Wing, and Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital. Dua stresses that the conversations go beyond just mentorship to address real issues in the tech world. Dua told Cheddar she wanted the series to go beyond the "top-level messages."

"We talk about empowering women, we say inclusivity is really important, but often that is an afterthought. The question is how do we embed that from day one? Diversity begets diversity."

Dua says #BUILTBYGIRLS practices what they preach and hopes the campaign sparks real change.

"The #BUILTBYGIRLS team is full of women, LGBTQ, it is the most diverse team in the company that owns it, at Verizon. That is because its leaders are diverse. That's why we want to get these young women into tech companies early. That's why we're matching them with professionals. If they learn to work with the next generation that believe diversity and inclusion is the must-have, not a nice-to-have, that starts to change the dynamic."

Dua told Cheddar she believes a more diverse work environment could put an end to the "imposter syndrome" that plagues so many young professionals.

"Imposter syndrome is turning up and being the only woman in the room, being the only LGBTQ person in the room, and feeling like there's a framework here that doesn't match with the way I think about things. And so I have to try and fit into that framework rather than other people seeing my perspective. So you start to change your behaviors, and sort of fake it 'til you make it, in a framework that's not really authentic."

"The number of CEOs named John outweighs all the number of all female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies," she said. "That's why this pipeline is so important."

Hungry for more stories of female representation in business? Cheddar has turned into ChedHER all day Friday in partnership with JPMorgan Chase to focus on stories of women innovators like Nisha Dua. Find their stories here.

For full interview click here.