Tech is a Woman's World Too.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Roberta Doyle, Unsplash
by Skippy mesirow
It is often thought and claimed that tech is a man's world. Coding a boys job. Nerds wear taped Ray-Bans, not heels.
Roberta Doyle of Unsplash, which is a platform of beautiful free photos gifted by the world's most generous community of photographers, is also an Aspen Entrepreneurs cohort member who demonstrates much of what makes an Aspen entrepreneur special.
To that “tech is a man’s world” thing, she says bullshit. Actually, she says lots of things, and she’s worth learning from. Born in Brazil, Roberta went to school, found a career, worked her way up to a Director position, had a team, and largely had the world out in front of her for the taking. Yet something was amiss.
At work, well, it was work. At home, she started to learn about coding, learning languages, and it felt like, well, play.
Changing careers at 32 can be trying, even scary; Roberta’s experience was no different. Her Dad asked her, incredulous but caring, “do you really want to go from managing a team to being an intern with 18-year-olds?”
“That was scary: the pride of letting down your dad, your family, throwing away all you have worked for.” she said. Ultimately though, she thought “do I care more about talking about something, that I get to say ‘I’m a director,’ or do I care more about what I am actually doing day-to-day? I decided I was happier when I was coding….I mean, I have been working for what? 8-10 years, and I have what ahead of me? 40-50 years, there was just way more ahead. I had to focus on that.”
So she did the hard thing and dove into the work. She took intensive study programs, sought out jobs, learned as she worked, and made mistakes. Looking back just a few years later, she has a serious job at Unsplash, she just started working on search, which is an important feature of the product and a notably complex task.
“If you're outside the industry, you may think this is a boring field. You just sit in front of a screen all day and talk to nerds. That's what I thought, it’s why I did not study computer science in college. I regret that because it’s fascinating. If you love it, it is a very rewarding career. It is very tangible. It's very challenging. Things change very quickly. You are always a beginner at some level.”
She offers some advice.
“So if you if feel that way [too] there are so many simple ways to test it out [if it’s good for you]. To build a simple website or play with an app, you can easily and for free give it a try, you can't do that if you want to be a Doctor, and that's awesome. You can test it out, demystify it, give it a shot.”
Roberta encourages this exploration for everyone, but especially girls. “Girls are raised to be cautious, boys are raised to give it a shot” and the industry is not always welcoming. “Twitter is a big factor” and it’s often an echo chamber for negative chauvinistic reinforcement. Often you have “the Google manifesto (a piece written by a Google employee who was fired for his commentary) saying women are not as capable as men in this field because of inherent differences, or people saying women are not made for coding” but Roberta vehemently disagrees, and rebuts these myths with her daily action and personhood.
It’s not all bad though, since landing at Unsplash she has had many wonderful supportive team members, many male.
The main thing she says is to “call out the BS when you see it. Speak up!” and she asks you to remember it’s just as important to “bring more men into the new way of thinking as it is to bring more women into the workplace.”
We could not agree more. Way to go Roberta! We are proud of you!
Unsplash started as a simple tool for creators. The concept was born from the pain we had in finding great, usable imagery. Today, Unsplash is a platform fueled by a community that has generously gifted hundreds of thousands of their own photos.
To learn more about Unsplash visit unsplash.com and use Roberta’s code for yourself and search for photographers and collections!
Roberta’s Three Favorite Unsplash Photographers:
Roberta’s Five Favorite Unsplash Collections:
Patterns and Textures: