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There is a lot of talk on social media sites about diversity in technology and the lack of women in the space. I am a developer looking to eventually branch out on my own, but I am not in a network. How can I become part of the conversation?
First, I am glad to see you taking this leap. This is definitely what technology workers and budding entrepreneurs should do. Make connections by tapping into the many resources available to you, for example, Twitter. Check out the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (http://anitaborg.org), a nonprofit that helps large companies and academia “recruit, retain, and develop women technology leaders.” Subscribe to its Twitter feed to get a good sense of the conversations occurring in tech and of the major players in the field. The institute has also created an impressive list of women technologists to follow. Two other organizations that work to advance women’s roles in technology, Women Who Tech (www.womenwhotech.com) and Women in Technology (www.womenintechnology.org), also offer networking opportunities and conversation.
For business resources and mentoring, don’t neglect established groups such as Black Data Processing Associates (www.bdpa.org)–its national conference is in Philadelphia this July; and SCORE (www.score.org), which provides tons of advice to help you start and run your business. SCORE also offers free Webinars on its site.
One emerging trend of note: Large companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft are taking an increased interest in the small business and diversity arenas, offering services such as equipment purchase financing, additional training, and SaaS (software as a service) products. These can all be a great help to someone looking to set up shop but who isn’t quite ready to do it. One more thing: good luck!