My Time as a Black Woman Software Engineer at Capital One
Trigger Warning: Mention of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts.
Being a Black woman in technology, despite the immense amount of privilege that we have with our skill set and our compensation for said skill set, is hard, but I would like to think I have persevered despite the odds. I love my career path. I travel to conferences to talk about my experience technically and also to talk about my experience with diversity and inclusion in the field. Honestly, this article could have been another talk and a hell of a good one. I have also found ways to grow a community of compassionate friends in technology that I did not think was possible. Yet, when it came to my job, I was dimmed.
To anyone that has listened to my podcast, my experience at previous jobs, especially my most recent at a very popular U.S. based bank, was less than stellar. It was abusive and led to me having to go on short-term disability leave and being diagnosed with PTSD before I finally parted ways with the company.
And unlike South Asian Woman and woman of color, I noticed the lack of diversity on my team at the finance company, and the other teams that we were primarily supposed to be working in, right away. I was in a sea of men — South Asian and White Men — and here I was, the lone black woman in a boat with one other South Asian woman engineer. In retrospect, this should have been my red flag to back out, but this was my first time making six-figures. This was a huge deal to me and the sacrifices that my parents made for me to make a better life for myself, so I stayed to my own detriment in every application of the word.
My first manager, who I will call T, I really liked. He listened to me in our 1–1s. He gave me productive, actionable feedback to help find a fit on the team, and if need be elsewhere. The first 1–1 with him where I was starting to receive negative feedback from N was January 24, 2019. It marked 6 months of my time on the job and the landmark of when T originally said that he was supposed to see production out of me. From the notes of the meeting that I too, T told me that he was uncertain about what work I was doing on the team and that I wasn’t getting work done fast enough which would come to be the haunting — and most triggering — piece of…