Profile: Sepideh Nasiri, founder & CEO of Persian Women In Tech

“Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”

Gabriela Motroc
tech
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Sepideh Nasiri, founder & CEO of Persian Women In Tech.

Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Women in Tech — The Survey

We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!

Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.

Without further ado, we would like to introduce Sepideh Nasiri, founder & CEO of Persian Women In Tech.

Sepideh Nasiri, founder & CEO of Persian Women In Tech

Sepideh (“Sepi”) Nasiri is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Founder of Persian Women In Tech, the former Vice President at Women 2.0 and an advocate for Women + Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Nasiri started her career as a Co-founder and Managing Editor of a digital and print Los Angeles Magazine and later joined a number of successful startups in Silicon Valley. Currently, Ms. Nasiri advises early-stage startups, is an avid technology enthusiast and mentors globally many female entrepreneurs and founders in technology.

What got you interested in technology?

I believe it started in high school, at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA where Apple and Sun Microsystem were just down the street. My student body was exposed at a young age to tech and computers.

I come from an international, entrepreneurial family. Having moved from Iran to Germany and then to the US for better opportunities and life, I had the foundation to start a company at a young age right after college.

I never had the desire to have a traditional 9 to 5 job, but always wanted to utilize my skills in education and technology to help change the ways people live and think.
 My parents, particularly my father, has always supported me, but it took a little time to convince him that entrepreneurism—though not the safest career route—was the best option for me to live a happy, successful life. I also had mentors from a young age, from my professors and cofounders to networks I found later on in my career. Role models, mentors, and sponsors are essential to success, especially for women in STEM.

Everyone has obstacles and challenges in life, but one of my biggest challenges was being an immigrant. Legal knowledge and the right immigration status can make or break your career path. That being said, I was lucky enough to find ways around these issues and forge solutions that ended up benefitting my career.

A day in Sepideh’s life

I founded Persian Women In Tech, a platform whose mission is to build the profile of Iranian women working in technology while elevating their voices. Persian Women in Tech also provides resources like mentorship, which has helped create a larger sense of community.

I’m proud that I have the opportunity to help others, especially other women who work in the tech space.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

There are many women in tech and STEM, but they tend to leave the tech workforce due to the company’s environment, lack of support systems, lack of employee support and lack of career growth opportunities.

When women aren’t well represented in STEM fields, the entire world loses out on their talents and innovations. As with many industries, STEM fields are considered a man’s world. When women and people of color have opportunities for leadership roles in STEM careers and are given a seat at the table, it will pave the way for a diversity of ideas and talent, and only drive more innovation and workplace equality.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum in a way that is already creating results. Large technology companies like Google and Facebook are beginning to be held accountable for their diversity and sexism problems, and it’s clear that tech companies can no longer hide behind their ‘hip’ facade as cover for their discriminatory hiring and promotion practices. I am inspired by fellow women and people of color in STEM fields who are quite literally pioneers in an industry that is largely white and male

.

Challenges

Many companies lack several key components, namely infrastructure to support female employees, mentorship programs, career growth opportunities, and sponsors.

Tips & tricks

About 10 years ago, tech was a lonely space for a woman; the tech industry was one that was rife with all male-dominated positions, making it all the more difficult—especially as women of color—to break through and have a seat at the table. My advice would be that it is absolutely crucial for women in tech to connect, remain connected and empower one another, particularly in times of frustration with the industry as a whole, and lift each other up with access to resources and opportunities when needed. That’s why Persian Women in Tech strives to continue growing a global network of over 2500 women, with at least 100 people in each of our chapters across the world.

Aside from fostering relationships with other women in the STEM space, my advice would be to never be afraid to speak up or ask for more, and to educate the people around you—particularly men—in the workplace about how promoting diversity in the tech workforce is simply good for business.

 

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Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at S&S Media she studied International Communication Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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