Meet Jessica Faye Carter: Writer and EntrepreneurJune 29, 2011
Jessica Faye Carter, a 2001 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow, has always been interested in technology. She coded her own website in the late 1990s and started small social networking sites while earning her law and master’s degrees at Duke University, where she was the editor-in-chief of the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy. When she received her fellowship, which was named after social scientist Ellen Black Winston, Carter was doing research on the enduring economic and legislative impacts of slavery on black women. She said the fellowship from AAUW provided an important source of validation for her work, defraying the cost of her education and freeing her mind to think about what was most interesting to her. Carter went on to begin her career as a corporate lawyer, but the success of her 2007 book, Double Outsiders: How Women of Color Can Succeed in Corporate America, led her to start her own corporation and combine her interests in women’s issues and technology.
In Double Outsiders, Carter argues that because women of color often share neither ethnicity nor gender with those in the insider circles of business, they need unique strategies to bridge the gap in access to power. She provides insights into the obstacles facing women of color in corporate environments, offering resources to help them confront stereotypes and gain access to mentors and networks of support. Double Outsiders includes interviews with executives, organizational leaders, and human resources and diversity experts and provides companies with the knowledge they need to begin effectively recruiting and retaining women of color.
When Carter began receiving invitations to speak about her book, she realized that her knowledge and skills could be put to work helping companies engage with multicultural communities. So she founded the Heta Corporation, which advises businesses on diversity issues, reaching women as employees and consumers and using emerging technologies like social media.
Carter is also an active blogger and writer on women, culture, and social media and is anticipating the release of a digital article, “The Coming Wave,” on social change and women’s use of technology. She is fascinated by women’s use of social media to bypass traditional gatekeepers of culture and argues that social media democratizes technology in new ways. “The fact that women are adopting social media in droves and are now the majority of users on some sites is a sign that there’s something deeper going on here,” she says.
Carter expects to continue AAUW’s philanthropic legacy and plans to invest in sustainable, women-owned companies that support local communities. She offers advice to those following in her entrepreneurial footsteps: “You have to be comfortable standing alone in what you believe. It’s great to get support, like I did from AAUW, but ultimately, you have to be able to take a stand and hold a position even when people don’t support you.”
This post was written by Fellowships and Grants Intern Melissa Rogers.