“The Adventures of Women in Tech: How We Got Here and Why We Stay” by Alana Karen breaks the silence and brings to light the profound realities of women in tech. Instead of articles written about the women, these are stories written by the women. Eighty women share their struggles, successes and advice in this powerful book about being a woman in tech. In an industry with a long history of ignoring, belittling, excluding, and plagiarizing women this book serves as an honest course in how women make their place in that world. It’s a masterclass in surviving and thriving for the underappreciated minorities in tech.
Alana teaches us the importance of honest, open conversations about inclusivity while sharing priceless advice for women who want to grow in tech. As a speaker, author, and award-winning tech leader, Alana Karen offers readers insight and wisdom in this ground-breaking book.
As an experienced leader, did you discover anything new or unexpected while doing research?
I’d been talking to women colleagues for years before I wrote this book, so in many ways, no. I was mainly surprised by the consistency of what drew women to technology companies though: the chance to change the world, to nurture their careers in a high growth industry, and to be part of a culture that spoke to them. Not to be overlooked, it’s also a well-paying industry with opportunities to earn more than many other fields. I had a simple but important “a-ha” moment from these similar stories: that I could continue to nurture and retain women by being laser-focused on ensuring they had opportunities to make the world better, grow, belong, and thrive.
The stories in “The Adventures of Women in Tech” are inspiring readers and giving us all insight into the truth behind tech. What do you most hope readers will take away from this book?
That they belong! The idea to write this book was driven by my worry that women often think they don’t belong in Tech. Many news articles feed into that with headlines like “Can women thrive in Tech?” or by only quoting negative statistics. I hope the many stories from women in my book — from diverse backgrounds and in many different roles — help both women interested in Tech or already in Tech feel that they belong and aren’t alone. The book can also help women learn how they can navigate and grow in this industry.
“The Adventures of Women in Tech: How We Got Here and Why We Stay” is available across different platforms, including an audiobook. Is this a book that could be easily adapted to other media, such a movie or podcast? How much do you think an adaption might change it?
A podcast would be fairly straightforward either driven by the interviews with different women, or segmented by topic. In the book I was able to thread together stories from my interviews to address various perspectives and be relevant for all kinds of readers. We’d have to watch out for that with a podcast series as well. A movie could be tons of fun! Movies tend to focus on fewer character’s narratives. While I do like that approach, I’d be interested in seeing how we can convey the sense that millions of women work in technology companies today.
Witnessing the success of “The Adventures of Women in Tech”, it’s obvious this book is a voice for women in this industry. What part of the book was most difficult to write?
In Chapter 8, “The Magic Toolbox”, I sought to provide a synopsis of the top five tools that women used to enhance and thrive in Tech. I came up with: Resilience, Marketing 101, Asking for what you want and what you need, Finding Support, and Owning your awesome. I had so much imposter syndrome writing this chapter because there are entire books written by experts on these topics. In the end I followed my own advice to remember that I am awesome and to write the chapter from my unique perspective. And it all worked out! It’s been a section of the book many people mention to me now, and I’m proud to say that I now have a follow-up workbook co-written with four colleagues coming out this Spring that focuses entirely on these tools.
Now that you’re a best-seller, what does it feel like to add this new success to your life?
My main focus is for people to read the book and have it enhance their lives. Being a bestseller is affirmation that’s happening! It’s lots of hard work to write a book, market it, and sustain reader interest. I honestly have to pause sometimes and savor the small victories while I keep on working to build diversity in Tech and help people thrive there.