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Less mentoring, more sponsorship

An overhead view of two women with manicured hands using Microsoft Surface tablets. Their tablets are on a white table, and they are attached to aqua keyboards that the women are typing on. You can't see either women's face in the photo. Only their hands and legs are visible. Their fingernails are painted black. The woman on the left is wearing jeans and a black tshirt. The woman on the right is wearing a huckleberry-colored blouse and jeans.

Photo from #WOCinTech Chat used under a Creative Commons license.

I came across this interview with Cassi Johnson and Sharon Kennedy Vickers of Software for good, a Minnesota-based, remote-first tech company that builds software for not-for-profit and social justice organizations. In it, the two women talk about their work styles and what tech, as an industry, could do better.

The money quote, from Sharon Kennedy Vickers:

We need less mentoring and more sponsorship in the tech space. Women and people of color are over-mentored and under-sponsored. In tech, the people who need mentoring are white males. Mentorship is about learning and providing advice. Sponsorship is creating opportunities, vouching for and opening the doors for individuals — and white males need to be mentored on how to do that.

Yes! Access to your network and vouching for others is more of what we need to see. Mentoring perhaps helps when you have a vast difference in skill or experience. Too much of the work and discourse that I've seen around diversity suggests that men of color and women are in need of help improving skills and not accessing funding and opportunity networks.In most cases, however, what men of color and women are in need of isn't help improving skills, but help accessing funding and opportunity networks. Too much of the work and discourse that I've seen around diversity seems to assume a deficiency of talent and intelligence.

Anyhow, the interview is a short, quick read that also helped me reach an insight about how I like to work.