Review: Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech by Pratima Rao Gluckman

Reviewed by Angela Eckhart

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cover of nevertheless she persisted woman with back facing cover, as seen through a broken glassTelle Whitney, former CEO of the Anita Borg Institute—a global nonprofit organization whose aim is to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology (—stated “Many of the most important revolutions that will take place over the next fifty years have technology at their heart. Women, 50 percent of the population, still only make up between 20 to 25 percent of the technology work force.”

With all the problems going on in the world today, it is no surprise that women are still struggling with gender equality in the workplace, especially in professions that are historically held mostly by men, like the technical and computer science fields. Pratima Rao Gluckman knew as a child that she wanted to become an engineer, so she focused on attaining that goal. She persisted through her personal barriers and became a leader in the tech world. Along the way, she encountered other successful women and became curious about their stories…how they, too, became leaders in this mostly male-dominated vocation.

Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech (Friesen Press, May 2018) is Gluckman’s collection of stories from women who have persevered in the tech world. Gluckman interviewed and featured nineteen personal stories, each one separated as a chapter and titled simply, such as “Patty’s Story,” “Malina’s Story,” and “Lily’s Story.” The stories offer their unique perspectives on similar topics, like who their mentors and sponsors were (if they had a sponsor), their work-home life balance, and whether or not they felt guilty about working while having a family. Additionally, the struggles they encountered, like gender bias and imposter’s syndrome, are also discussed at length. Their honesty and insight offer awareness within this challenging career.

A “Biosketch” is included at the beginning of each woman’s story, giving the reader a quick look into the interviewee’s life, and “Takeaways” are offered at the end of each interview summing up the bullet points of important things to consider. Furthermore, after every couple of chapters, there’s a separate short essay covering a specific idea, like “Meritocracy,” “Imposter Syndrome,” and “Speak Up For Yourself.” Gluckman herself indicates, “I also have struggled against imposter syndrome while writing this book. I am known for my skills as a technologist and a leader—writing has never been a skill I have felt confident about.” Yet, she overcame her hesitation as a writer because she had these unique and powerful stories to tell. There is something everyone can learn from these stories, even those already in the field or those in other careers.

Each woman’s story is different—how she discovered she wanted a career in technology, and who her mentors were and how she was influenced. Yet one thing remains the same for all of them—they didn’t give up. They offered ideas as to how to incorporate coding and computer science classes to high school students to encourage young girls to consider this field as a viable career option. And whatever obstacles these professional women faced, they also offered ways to gain support and where to turn to for help in navigating their way to the top.

Amidst gender bias, women are still trying to navigate through careers only previously held by men, and these women’s stories offer insight as to how they endured and earned their way to the top. Gluckman says, “The lack of gender diversity at every level of leadership prevents many women from advancing their careers. We need female role models in every employment sector, not just high tech; we need to diversify the workplace and offer guidance and inspiration to all younger women.” As to who should read this book, Gluckman says in her introduction that this book would be useful to not only women who are interested in the tech field, but also to educators, parents, and even men. “I want to encourage men to become aware of their often unconscious bias toward accomplished women technical leaders. I believe it is vital to have men in this conversation, because we need them to advocate for real change in our world.” We can begin by inspiring young women today to contemplate this field of study. Parents and educators can be the biggest influence of a young girl’s vocational direction. Gluckman’s book is a compilation of profound stories of courageous women.

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