By Gabriela Holmes
It’s a man’s world, and a white man’s world at that–at least in the tech industry. According to the study by the National Center For Women & Information Technology study, “women of color made up only about 11 percent of the computing and mathematical workforce in 2019, with Black women only comprising three percent of the total.”
Black women have been underrepresented, holding only three percent of tech jobs in 2015, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Despite those numbers, it’s apparent that black women are undaunted by this challenge. Instead of worrying about grim statistics, they are breaking barriers and bridging the gap in the tech world.
Meet Aisha Ariel Davis, the Senior Customer Success Account Manager within the high-growth account area for strategic accounts in the mid-Atlantic area at Microsoft. Davis is also a part of the science technical council lead for customer success on the US East Coast as well. Along with being the signature global lead for a youth program called DigiGirlz, a program that gives middle and high school the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, which helps young women get introduced to technology.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Davis’s interest in technology sparked at 16-years-old after participating in the DigiGirlz program with Microsoft. Davis graduated high school in 2009 and went to Johnson C Smith University, a Historically Black University, to study Computer Science. Throughout her college career, Davis interned with Honeywell as a software engineer in the department of federal manufacturing and technology working on non-nuclear parts of nuclear weapons. Davis was one of four women on the floor with about 100 workers. She admits that while the experience took her out of her comfort zone, it was eye-opening.
Davis did not get a full-time offer from Honeywell after interning for two summers. It was a frustrating experience. However, in her senior year, Davis was blessed with a full-time offer from Microsoft as a Customer Success Account Manager. She was the first individual to be recruited from Johnson C Smith straight to Microsoft.
When Davis’s experience with Microsoft began, it was like nothing she’s ever experienced. “Going from university to a grad hire at Microsoft, I think can only be described as being in the draft for the NBA because it was crazy Microsoft didn’t recruit from Jhonson C Smith at that time.”
Although David earned her position at Microsoft, imposter syndrome began to creep into her thoughts. “So many black women have this imposter syndrome. They feel like I don’t deserve to be here, or I don’t really know what I know, or I barely made it whatever way you got in you got it, and you need to give yourself credit for that and I don’t think we do that enough.”
After being at Microsoft for eight years and having numerous achievements, Davis still struggles with self-validation. “I think my greatest challenge is getting past myself.”
As a veteran in the tech industry and as a black woman, Davis advises young black women just starting out to invest in themselves, their finances, and their wellness.
Although the odds aren’t in favor of black women, trailblazers like Aisha Davis are making their statements and they’re asserting themselves in the most positive ways.
Gabriela Holmes is a fourth-year Broadcasting Journalism Student at Florida A&M University from Miami, FL.