When Tracy Chou — founder and CEO of Block Party — was first introduced to programming as a child, she loved it, but didn’t see it as an obvious career choice. Raised in Silicon Valley, to parents that were both software engineers, she was no stranger to the tech industry. Still, her entrance into the industry was reluctant. Little did she know, her first full-time role in tech would completely change her perspective.
Early in her career, Tracy discovered what she considers to be the true magic of programming: the satisfaction of creating and building something new.
In her role, Tracy was able to create content about what she knew best: her own experience.
The content Tracy created about being a woman in engineering, computer science, and tech paved the way for other women and people of color to reach out to her and express the similarities in their own realities. It was these conversations that stayed with Tracy throughout her career, even as she took on new roles at different companies.
According to Tracy, “experiencing what it was like to be the only [woman or person of color] on the team and in the room, and all the structural disadvantages [that come along with that]” propelled her to action. She had to say something.
Tracy soon published a blog post concerning the lack of diversity data in tech. The piece described the hypocrisy of being in a data-driven industry with no data on the diversity of its own workforce. It addressed the reluctance of many to admit that there was a problem. The post went viral.
The unfortunate side effect of garnering attention these days is the massive amount of online harassment that follows – Tracy now had to deal with the uglier side of the internet. After experiencing severe incidents of abuse, she went through the usual channels and reported the posts to social networks, but received no help. Frustrated, she posted screenshots of the abuse on her platforms, where her friends — many of whom worked in positions at these social networks — were appalled by the content. They escalated her experience within their companies, and got the posts taken down. And that’s when it hit Tracy. What about other people who experience online abuse and harassment who don’t have the same privilege of access to friends in the industry? Who was going to help them?