Seen Yet Unseen : A Black Woman Crashes the Tech Fraternity

Bärí A. Williams

05-14-24

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Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Business & Economics

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05-14-24

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Business & Economics

Description

“Bärí A. Williams is not afraid to speak up, and to speak truth to power.” Michal Lev-Ram, senior editor of Fortune

Part memoir, part searing revelation, Seen Yet Unseen takes readers behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest tech companies and exposes the way their exclusion of and, at times, hostility toward Black women have lasting impacts on the technology we use every day.

Over the years the products of big tech companies and Silicon Valley have become indispensable to our lives. They impact the way we socialize, make purchases, and even our medical decisions. But what happens when a major segment of the population—in this case Black women—isn’t included in these companies?

For over a decade, Bärí A. Williams has worked to carve a space for herself as a Black woman in the incredibly white male sphere of major tech companies, eventually becoming a lead counsel at Facebook and architect of their supplier diversity program. However, she also experienced the peculiar feeling familiar to Black women in the workforce: being both unseen and too seen. In raw and personal stories, Williams recounts balancing on glass cliffs while battling the burnout that so often forces Black women out of these companies, and how the industry’s lack—and loss—of Black women not only harms the businesses themselves but has troubling ramifications for their products, particularly as the promises of AI and the Metaverse loom large.

In a tone both forthright and revealing, Williams dissects how a culture that has largely excluded Black women—and people of color more generally—is at a tipping point and that only through embracing and listening to Black women can we prevent the further weaponization of these technologies against marginalized communities. From fledgling in-house diversity initiatives to gentrification and the rise of AI, Seen Yet Unseen takes the reader inside the obscured machinations of big tech companies and makes a case for why diversity is essential to the future of technology.

Praise

“Bärí A. Williams is not afraid to speak up, and to speak truth to power.” Michal Lev-Ram, senior editor of Fortune

“Bärí A. Williams is one of the most dogged people I’ve ever met, and I’m very glad she’s aiming her uncommon persistence—along with her diversity and inclusion expertise and unflagging compassion—at a predicament that the tech industry has done far too little to address: the way it treats Black women within its walls and its consumers of color outside of them. We should all be yelling at the top of our lungs about this; Bärí’s one of the few people I know who actually is.” Samantha Walravens, coauthor of Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech

“Having also been a Black woman attorney in a white male dominated industry, I know what it's like to have to be twice as good for half the reward…I saw myself in these stories.” Eboni K. Williams, attorney, former Fox News anchor, and author of Pretty Powerful

“I am a big fan and supporter of Bärí A. Williams. The issue of diversity in tech and tech leadership is super important and timely, and I’ve yet to see a compelling book (any book, really?) on this topic. Bärí is a star—she has tons of relevant lived experience as an industry leader, and she’s a superb, engaging writer. The topic of Seen Yet Unseen couldn’t be more timely given the increasing economic and cultural dominance of Silicon Valley. Bärí will address key questions in the book including: How do we fix tech industry inequities—especially toward Black women? And how do AI and automation exacerbate these problems? She’ll know how to solve them.” Marc Bodnick, venture capitalist, cofounder of Quora, early investor in Facebook

“I receive dozens of pitches on DEI topics every week and most sound the same. Bärí Williams brings a fresh perspective of someone who is living the challenges of being a Black woman in tech, not just a consultant coming in from the outside. I’ve had the pleasure of being her editor at Fast Company for several years and her stories are bold and provocative and move the conversation forward. I value her work so much that I’ve asked her be a speaker at several of our events in front of large audiences of the most powerful people in business and she’s delivered thought-provoking insights every time. I would recommend Bärí’s work to anyone who wants to understand how to really move the needle on the biggest business imperative of our time. She is always two steps ahead.” Kathleen Davis, deputy editor, FastCompany.com

“This book is not only needed, but insightful. Giving an honest perspective on what it’s like to be [not only] Black in tech, but a Black woman in tech, is helpful as I move into the next phase of my own career. It’s good for understanding what to look out for, how microaggressions manifest, even when subtle, and how to effectively challenge them. It tells real stories of survival in those trenches, and lets me know how to be an effective ally as I move into this space in my next chapter.” Matt Barnes, retired NBA champion, host of Showtime’s All the Smoke, and tech investment fund manager

“[Bärí] unabashedly speaks truth to power. Having also been a Black woman attorney in a white-male-dominated industry, I know what it’s like to have to be twice as good for half the reward. So goes media, so goes tech. I saw myself in these stories, and how she demonstrates the humanity behind the statistics. We have real stories, and it’s time we tell them all. Seen Yet Unseen does that.” Eboni K. Williams, attorney, former Fox News anchor, and author of Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success

“Whenever I want to David a Goliath, Bärí is my first call. In an era when speaking truth to power is cheap (thanks for that, Twitter), she is a rare beacon of action who will wade into the legal fray on the side of what is true and just. And she has the receipts: a book where she names names, is guaranteed to ruffle the right feathers and make change. Because Lean In is problematic. It doesn’t work for everyone, least of all women of color. Because Black women in tech do face triple standards. And because we need to hear both facts and opinions and anecdotes, statistics about the whole and stories from the front lines. We need books like Bärí’s, so that we can start to see with clearer eyes and work with cleaner hands.” Matt Wallaert, head of behavioral science at frog, author of Start at the End: How to Build Products That Create Change

“Last summer’s racial reckoning was about the interrogation of institutions—and there is perhaps no institution more urgently in need of scrutiny than Big Tech. We are only beginning to learn about this industry and its omnipresence in our lives, underscoring the need to continue reckoning with how inequality and the internet collide. Bärí Williams is the perfect guide to help unpack how Black women in particular are faring, bringing her lived experience to a much-needed conversation about the intersection of race, gender, and tech. Having already talked to her and read her insights exploring questions of power, agency, and identity online, I know this book is the tool—and Bärí is the expert, singular voice—our country needs now to make the necessary changes that will help create a more equitable social network.” Errin Haines, editor at large, The 19th, and MSNBC contributor

“Everybody want to be Black until it’s time to actually be Black. Or hire Black. Or promote Black. Or even just respect blackness. This is a truism about American society but there is nowhere in our culture where this is more true than in Big Tech. From Facebook to Instagram and definitely TikTok, African American culture drives content and engagement but seldom are the voices behind the scenes, running the analytics and making the decisions, look like the bodies and faces of people making these industries money. Bärí A. Williams pulls back the firewall between what we see when we click and what really makes these businesses tick. A lawyer, diversity advocate, and one of the smartest and humorous voices online and in person, Williams lays out the problems plaguing America’s largest tech giants and how the few Black voices in the game are the key to our tech salvation.” Jason Johnson, associate professor of politics and journalism in the School of Global Journalism & Communication

“Amidst the increasing interest in algorithmic injustice, Bärí Williams steps in to center Black women in the broader discussion of how tech contributes to inequality—and how tech can remedy inequality. Framed by Williams’s own experiences as a Black woman in Silicon Valley, Seen Yet Unseen is a timely and important intervention.” Melissa Murray, professor of law, New York University School of Law; former dean of Berkeley School of Law; MSNBC contributor

“A new era in technology delivers the opportunity to rebuild with equality at the core. Seen Yet Unseen presents a framework to address this universal truth: that tech culture is skewed against women of color, that we must truly address the disproportionate representation found within its ranks, and that we can right the wrongs that Big Tech has done to consumers of color. Bärí A. Williams is a compelling voice who is uniquely qualified to tell a story that will be familiar to those who have been disenfranchised by the technology industry as well as those who benefit from it. This examination of the past combined with her vision for a more equitable future is our way forward. Seen Yet Unseen comes with a singular truth: that if Black women don’t advocate for ourselves, no one else will.” Monique Woodard, founding partner of Cake Ventures and former partner of 500 Startups

“Bärí A. Williams is a rare double threat. She’s an attorney with a record of thoroughly examining facts to find the real truth within, and a fearless diversity advocate who won’t back down. Pair that with being a terrific communicator with a wonderful ability to make those findings relevant, relatable, and actionable for a popular audience, and this is what you get.” Minda Harts, author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table

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Details
More Information
Language English
Release Day May 13, 2024
Release Date May 14, 2024
Release Date Machine 1715644800
Imprint Blackstone Publishing
Provider Blackstone Publishing
Categories Business & Careers, Women in Business, Management & Leadership, Workplace & Organizational Behavior, Politics & Social Sciences, Law, Coming Soon
Author Bio
Bärí A. Williams

Bärí A. Williams is an attorney, start-up advisor, and DEI practitioner. She currently serves as an advisor to Vera AI and an attorney for several start-ups. Her primary practice areas include emerging technology transactions, privacy and data protection, IP licensing, and terms of service. She has bylines in the New York Times, WIRED, Fortune, and Fast Company. Her previous book, Diversity in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Interviews to Jumpstart Conversations about Identity, Privilege, and Bias, was published in March 2020.

Overview

Part memoir, part searing revelation, Seen Yet Unseen takes readers behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest tech companies and exposes the way their exclusion of and, at times, hostility toward Black women have lasting impacts on the technology we use every day.

Over the years the products of big tech companies and Silicon Valley have become indispensable to our lives. They impact the way we socialize, make purchases, and even our medical decisions. But what happens when a major segment of the population—in this case Black women—isn’t included in these companies?

For over a decade, Bärí A. Williams has worked to carve a space for herself as a Black woman in the incredibly white male sphere of major tech companies, eventually becoming a lead counsel at Facebook and architect of their supplier diversity program. However, she also experienced the peculiar feeling familiar to Black women in the workforce: being both unseen and too seen. In raw and personal stories, Williams recounts balancing on glass cliffs while battling the burnout that so often forces Black women out of these companies, and how the industry’s lack—and loss—of Black women not only harms the businesses themselves but has troubling ramifications for their products, particularly as the promises of AI and the Metaverse loom large.

In a tone both forthright and revealing, Williams dissects how a culture that has largely excluded Black women—and people of color more generally—is at a tipping point and that only through embracing and listening to Black women can we prevent the further weaponization of these technologies against marginalized communities. From fledgling in-house diversity initiatives to gentrification and the rise of AI, Seen Yet Unseen takes the reader inside the obscured machinations of big tech companies and makes a case for why diversity is essential to the future of technology.