Students create podcast for minorities in tech

Oct. 31, 2016, 10:57 p.m.

Three Stanford undergraduates are preparing to launch a podcast on Nov. 20 that chronicles the nuances and idiosyncrasies of their experiences as black women in the tech industry. What began as shared experiences via text messages while working at companies such as Apple, Lyft and LinkedIn grew into a critical examination of Silicon Valley.

(AXELLE TALMA/The Stanford Daily)
(AXELLE TALMA/The Stanford Daily)

The podcast, titled “Three Unicorns,” was created by Michelle McGhee ’18, Lindsey Redd ’17 and Alona King ’17. The current norm, according to McGhee, often glamorizes the tech industry and frames working in prominent tech companies as a momentous achievement, leaving no space to question the industry as a whole.

“To me, that’s the picture that’s painted of black women in tech, ‘Oh, I’m here and I made it,’” McGhee said. “I like countering the narrative that you should be honored and happy to be here. … It’s interesting to hear voices that are being a little bit more critical.”

McGhee, Redd and King hope their voices will fill a void and connect with other minorities who also find themselves in predominantly white and male spaces, according to King. The group plans to use personal anecdotes of being double minorities in tech culture to inspire episodes. Their target audience includes marginalized communities entering the tech industry.

“What’s more important is to reach that niche audience, rather than as many people as possible,” McGhee said. “As black women, we sat in our offices in the summer, and this is what we wanted to listen to. We’re going to create that for people to listen to.”

The group found deficiencies in other tech-centered podcasts, which frequently talk about tech trends and technical discussions but rarely critically consider the larger system that is the technology industry. Rather than providing guidance to others who wish to enter tech, “Three Unicorns” instead discusses and interview others about the values as well as flaws in the industry.

The producers of “Three Unicorns” aim to candidly discuss problematic facets of Silicon Valley, their own experiences working in summer internships, as well as studying computer science at Stanford.

Each of the podcast creators cites being one of the few black women in the companies she worked at as inspirational. The experience led them to listen to podcasts hosted by other black women while working.

McGhee noted the stark difference between the identities represented by the podcasts she listened to and the majority of her coworkers.

“Wow, this is like the opposite of where I am,” McGhee said. “I’m sitting in this room of white dudes, and I’m listening to black women talking.”

While these podcasts were unrelated to working in the tech industry, they formed the initial inspiration for the group’s ultimate decision to produce their own podcast.

“Three Unicorns” is scheduled to produce an episode every two weeks, and the group looks forward to receiving public response for their upcoming episode.

“We’re very much in the trial and error stage,” Redd said. “We’re at the stage where we’d love people’s feedback.”


Contact David Mora at dmora1 ’at’

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