Tupu.io wants to help women thrive in tech jobs through mentorship

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Monica Sarbu, co-founder and CEO of Xata.io, has over 15 years of experience working in the technology industry as a developer and product manager. She never had a mentor to guide her through the organizations where she worked. Still, she saw firsthand how some women and other historically underrepresented groups battled to find their place in the workplace. She started thinking about how she might assist more individuals in thriving in digital firms. After much deliberation, she decided to start a nonprofit mentorship company named Tupu.io as a side project in 2020 due to her experiences.

She pondered creating a book, but she concluded that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all guidance and that it would have to be personalized to each individual’s circumstances instead. ‘I had this notion of creating a mentoring program that would provide [people] with a customized solution built specifically for their requirements since most of the time; people come to you for mentorship in general when they are experiencing difficulties,’ she said.

Generally speaking, she finds these issues falling into one of two categories: either they have a particular problem with someone in the workplace or feel trapped in their professions and have become melancholy or a victim of impostor syndrome. She believed that a program like Tupu might be beneficial.

According to the job search website Zippia.com, just 25 percent of engineering positions are held by women. That implies they are outnumbered by a ratio of three to one, which is often worse than that. This may result in a hostile work atmosphere, whether on purpose or not.

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In the end, this is what makes you feel like you don’t want to be a part of a tech firm anymore,” says the author. “We have a lot of things we can do to assist technical content companies on how to be better and create a more healthy workplace.” “It’s part of the company’s culture,” she said.

Throughout her professional life, she has spoken at conferences, initially mainly for women and subsequently for a wider audience, in an attempt to express what it was like to be a woman in a primarily male institution. During her speaking engagements, she created awareness and even empathy among the male principally audiences, even though they were primarily male.

Then I asked them to try to put themselves in the shoes of a woman for a second [while working at a male-dominated tech business], and I tried to develop a picture around that of what it feels like,” Sarbu told me after the discussion.

She got many excellent responses from males who hadn’t realized how difficult it may be to be one of just a few women on technical teams until now. At that time, she had a strong need to do something more, and the concept for Tupu started to take shape in her mind.

She said that most mentoring programs demand a fee from the mentee, which she believes limits the number of individuals who may participate to the most talented workers, who, in her opinion, have the least need. She planned to provide this service for free, putting in her own money to get things started and then soliciting contributions from businesses to help fund the program and connect additional mentors with those who needed them.

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We will travel to IT firms of all sizes in the future and assist them in promoting diversity inside their organizations by providing mentoring to their workers,” she said. “Companies are no longer required to choose just the most ‘promising’ workers to participate in a mentoring program (as is currently the case), and they are free to encourage everyone to participate in Tupu.io, whether they are mentees or mentors,” says the author.

Currently, there are 57 mentees and 128 mentors in the program. The mentors are a mix of men and women who have worked in technology firms in the past. The website, she claims, has been able to attract these people to this point even though it has received little or no exposure or promotion.

To make the site self-sufficient via contributions from participating organizations, Sarbu, who works as the founder and CTO of Xata.io, a company designing a serverless database for the Jamstack environment, wants to make the process of signing up and pairing mentors with mentees more automated. The business is now developing a more automated version of the site, which it hopes to be completed shortly.

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