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Serena Williams Takes on the Tech Industry

Serena Williams has amassed 39 grand slam titles and four Olympic medals during her career as one of the best tennis players of our time. Currently, however, Williams has her sights set on a goal that has nothing to do with sports: she wants to help diversify the tech industry.

The decorated athlete is taking on Silicon Valley by joining the board of the online poll-taking service, SurveyMonkey.

Individual board members don’t usually project great influence over the companies they oversee, but Williams has implied that she hopes her presence will be a push in the right direction for the company. She hopes to impact the industry as a whole by asserting more space for diversity, particularly the inclusion of women and people of color.

As reported by The Guardian, “Williams says she’s disappointed that the vast majority of high-paying technology jobs are filled by white and Asian men. At SurveyMonkey, which employs about 650 workers, only 27% of technology jobs are filled by women. Just 14% of its total payroll consists of African Americans, Latinos or people identifying themselves with at least two races, according to numbers the company provided to the Associated Press.”

SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie also hopes that Williams’ appointment will help change these numbers. “My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes,” Lurie stated.

Williams has become more involved in the realm of Silicon Valley following her engagement to Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit. However, she had previously expressed an interest in the tech industry as well, commending efforts like Black Girls Code and the power that technology has in fostering positivity.

The tennis star told Wired back in 2015, “I know what it’s like to be interested in a field where the other kids don’t look like you,” and “while tennis isn’t really about the future, Silicon Valley sure is.”

Williams is now joining the very industry that she previously claimed shapes the future. On her new board appointment for SurveyMonkey, she is ready to dive in, saying, “I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters. Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”

Serena Williams’ passion on the tennis court comes to fruition each time we watch her earn another title, medal, or trophy. Now, it is exciting to watch her take on the tech industry, in hopes that her appointment will catalyze a greater inclusion of women and people of color in technology both today and through the future. With a determination like Williams’, it is not difficult to believe that she will deliver.  

Featured Image by Ian Gampon on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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