"If you want to start a small business, the first step is passion."
Updated: 7 days ago
For Hannah Sieber, that passion was tutoring.
By Asher Arey | June 11, 2021
Hannah, a former high school physics teacher, is paving the way for queer folx and womxn in the work force not only as a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday Software Engineer, but as the small business owner of TriTutoring as well. Only 25.1% of Software Engineers are women (Zippa 2021), and, "Of the nearly 28 million small businesses in the US, only 909 were certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) as of October 2016, according to a National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce" (Zhang 2017). In the words of Hannah,
"I would honestly say being queer is less "noticeable" as a STEM professional than being a woman."
In this male-dominated field, Hannah shared with me some of her struggles as a woman. Mostly, she shared about the day-to-day things she must do to garner respect from her co-workers, like editing emails in order to write in a tone that projects more confidence than is expected from women by society, and a confidence she admittedly does not always have. Though she describes being a woman in the field of Software Engineering as, "not easy," and the constant task of projecting false confidence and boldness as, "a constant battle," her passion for tech and her passion for impacting the field are honorable. In regards to women in tech, she states,
"I hope I'm paving the way for other women to enter the field and be bold."
In terms of how her queerness effects her work in STEM, she chooses software jobs that, "value inclusivity" and allow her to bring her "whole self to work." Her strategy is to be upfront and mention her wife early on, though, this has not always been her approach with her small business. She shared with me that, "I generally didn't share personal information as an overall policy, but recently realized that wasn't true to who I am." She went on to say,
"If I want students and families to open up to me about their goals and struggles, I have to do the same."
Not only is Hannah learning to be proud and open about her queerness in her small business practices, but she is learning to be proud of herself and her accomplishments. Impostor syndrome, "refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be" (Cuncic 2021). Hannah shared that she struggles with this both at her daytime job and as a small business owner, but, the truth is, Hannah is truly, doin' the damn thing.
In her last blog post titled, "Definition Deep Dive," Hannah writes about the recent one year anniversary of TriTutoring as an LLC. She really opens up about the fears she faced growing TriTutoring to an LLC and taking on tutoring partners after 10 years of independently tutoring. She writes,
"I can definitely say I am proud of myself. Emotionally, it was a risk to take something I cared so much about and let others have a hand in it. More than proud, though, I am grateful."
Passion, boldness, and gratitude. These qualities make Hannah a successful Software Engineer and Tutor. More importantly, bringing her passion, boldness, and gratitude to work every day as a queer women is how she is paving the way for the next generation (in addition to teaching them physics). Here's Hannah's advice for the next generation of STEM workers and entrepreneurs:
"Be the first. Someone has to take the step to be the first queer person in a company, the first woman on a software team, etc. It's an unfair burden, but remember you're paving the way for others and you're making it so that someone else can be the SECOND, and another the THIRD."
Cuncic, Arlin. 2021. "What Is Imposter Syndrome?" Last modified February 26, 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/imposter-syndrome-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4156469#:~:text=What%20Is%20Imposter%20Syndrome%3F%20Impostor%20syndrome%20%28IS%29%20refers,has%20links%20to%20perfectionism%20and%20the%20social%20context.
Zhang, Yu. 2017. "LGBT-Ownd Business: Stats and Facts." Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. https://businessjournalism.org/2017/03/lgbt-owned-business-stats-and-facts/
Zippa. 2021. "Software Engineer Statistics In The US." Last modified April 30, 2021. https://www.zippia.com/software-engineer-jobs/demographics/