Tag Archives: women in leadership

Focus of Femgineer Forum’s Inaugural Event

Having a long career in tech and having had many roles, I’ve experienced, and have been presented with a number of issues that women in tech face such as:

  • Interviewing at male dominated companies
  • Communicating concerns effectively with supervisors
  • Crafting an ASK for an offer, promotion, raise, or just a change in role

While we can claim that tech is merit based there are many women who are highly skilled and very talented who do not receive the same attention as their counterparts.  The common methods of addressing these concerns such as panels, content, or simply pointing to aspirational figures such as Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer isn’t enough.  While we should continue to champion the efforts of those who are trying to attract more women into the field by teaching and supporting young women and girls, there is little to no support for women already in the field.  Women who have already begun their career or are mid-career need strategies and solutions to keep them motivated, and help them achieve the career they dream of!

We also don’t want to play the victim card, which is why the goal of the Femgineer Forum’s inaugural event is to provide strategies and suggestions to help women who struggle with these common topics.  While I do no claim to be a psychologist, I have personally dealt with a number of these situations.  Through my experience I’ve been able to effectively come up with a system of strategies that has helped me, and many other women in tech avoid settling, asking for what we need in order to be taken seriously, making six figures, and succeeding while still staying sane!

If you’re a highly skilled and talented women in tech, don’t stand in the way of your own success, learn the strategies you need to have the career you want!  Come to the first ever Femgineer Forum and learn compelling communication strategies.  Looking forward to kicking this series off with you!

Celebrating Five Years of Femgineer.com

Its been five years since I started Femgineer.com. I can vividly remember the process I went through when I was deciding on a name for the blog, I wanted something that would capture being feminine and an engineer, because my mission was to show women and girls that they could be an engineer and still have feminine qualities.  They didn’t need to change who they were because the field of engineering was male dominated. After a few funny back and forth name ideas between Jason Putorti, Dave McClure, and myself while we were building Mint.comFemgineer.com was born!

On this five year anniversary I’d like to share what I’ve experienced, and how I see the femgineer  and tech community evolving.

Evolution of Femgineers

When I first moved out to Silicon Valley almost 8 years ago there was a different ambiance. There was less infrastructure and encouragement for femgineers in high tech. Sure there were femgineers working at startups and large tech companies, but at the time most people just complained and very little was being done. In fact I saw most women leaving engineering altogether to become product managers, sales people, or pursue motherhood full time. This was a little disheartening as a young and impressionable femgineer. Nevertheless, I kept searching.

Then another dynamic began to emerge about two years ago. One that was focused on complaints about organizational structures, fostered by panels like “what its like to be a girl coder and how much it sucks”. There were in fact a number of articles published and some pretty bad talks (here’s looking at you TechCrunch). In the midst of the negativity emerged a third movement, one that was focused on nurturing women. A few organizations that led the way were Women 2.0, some communities like DevChix and Women Who Code, social enterprises like Invent Your Future, and programs to empower and educate young girls like Iridescent Learning. These organizations have been supported by large tech companies, women, and a lot of men!

This is when things got really interesting… Because instead of sitting around and complaining there were bright women who were just femgineering. They were starting companies, building products, hosting workshops on how to code, and creating organizations that were pushing for the cause of having more women in engineering. They were leading by example, which is what any good role model does!

Change Isn’t As Easy As Hiring More Women

However, there are still some fundamental ideas that need to change. There are still too many leaders of startups and tech companies who want there to be more women but don’t know how to bring them in. The problem isn’t one of searching for women, it comes down to the type of environment that is present in these organizations. Here are the top three reasons most women don’t join teams.

  • Teams dominated by one sex I know there are more than a handful of women out there who don’t mind working on a team of all men, but it can be lonesome. The reason its lonesome is because of the difference in communication style and goals between the sexes. After awhile you either have to give in, or leave if people can’t empathize with your perspective.
  • Rigid culture Most women and I’m not speaking for our entire species here, are more into working for a collaborative and cooperative culture, but if the primary sentiment of the team is being results oriented it can be off putting for many women.
  • Inflexible work environment Women play many roles during the course of their lives, and one of the roles outside of working is being a mother. Unfortunately, too many organizations don’t understand how mentally and physically taxing this role can be. Long hours, tough deadlines, and less than understanding bosses make it hard on the role of a nurturer. While women are willing to make due with hiring nannies or sending their kids to daycare, it still doesn’t really capture what they need most, time, to spend with their family and loved ones. Even for young women without families they need time to create a support structure for themselves, and yes time to date. I know the choice to pursue a competitive career does require trade-offs, but it shouldn’t mean having to fundamentally give up on other life goals indefinitely.

What’s in store for the next 5 years

I don’t doubt the tech community will continue to pave the way in being progressive and encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering. But I am worried about the additional burden it will place on women’s roles. Encouraging young girls to pursue engineering is great, but they will still need to have environments where they are free to be themselves and pursue other life goals.

Balance is something that both sexes actually need to achieve. But balance doesn’t mean just taking time off. It means encouragement, and being mindful in how teams communicate and the way organizations structure and achieve their goals. The tech community is very competitive, and while competition can build great products and companies, it can also make it hard to attract talented individuals.

I haven’t yet figure out how to breed a healthy culture that is competitive, but I’m searching and experimenting with my own startup. I’m also encouraging younger girls by continuing to share my experiences through speaking engagements.

I look forward to continue being a femgineer and I want to thank a few who have actively supported femgineer.com over the years: Aaron Patzer, Angie ChangDave McClure, Jason Putorti, Liz WiltsieLyndi Thompson, Noah Kagan, Shaherose Charania, and especially my dad who strongly encouraged me to take my first computer science class in college.