Brianna White

Staff member
Mar 25, 2020
Recently, a friend and leader sent me an SOS about her new IT job, “I don’t know how you did this, please send help. How do I succeed here as a woman?” We set up a series of mentorship calls, but my overarching advice for her echoed throughout: “You deserve a seat at the table. Don’t act like you’re new or stay quiet. Take up space–you’re in that room for a reason. Speak with confidence. Don’t undermine yourself.” 
I no longer hide myself at work. But it wasn’t always this way. When I started my career in tech, I was already living inauthentically. I was married to a man, and my colleagues were mostly straight, white men, whose clothing styles I emulated to try to fit in. Yes, that meant I showed up to work most days in khakis and a polo shirt. I wasn’t dressing for my personality, I was dressing to play a role. A manager at the time pulled me aside and told me I needed to dress more professionally, which really meant fitting into the conformed standard of femininity: blouses, skirts, lipstick, and heels.  
I quickly realized I had lost my voice. The once-confident intern with a degree in computer science and a passion for tech hid under the cloak of the heteronormative IT world. I didn’t have role models or mentors who looked like me or who could give me cues of how I should dress or act. There was a lack of representation in my space. I was often the only woman in the room and one of the few queer people. I was playing a part and hiding my identity both publicly and privately. 
This changed once I decided to finally start living authentically. I met a woman who would eventually become my wife and the love of my life, moved across the country, even spent a year pursuing my own Eat, Pray, Love narrative. I left corporate America and started a position at a woman-led tech PR firm. I stopped  showing up only for others and started showing up for myself.
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