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To celebrate International Women's Month we sat down with a couple of our amazing Solvers to explore their journeys in technology. 

Innovation-Works-Collage

To round out the month, I got to sit down with some of my team to talk about diversity in leadership, technology and specifically the challenges that women face in our particular field. Here are a couple of highlights from our conversations. 

Janet Dianda – Software Engineer III, Sofia

Why is it important to diversify teams, especially when it comes to technology?

Research has shown that diverse teams are more innovative and successful (for example: Why Diverse Teams are Smarter, by Rock, D., and Grant, H., Harvard Business Review, November 04, 2016). Diverse companies recruit the best without being limited by pre-conceived notions. A diverse team brings a richer set of experiences and perspectives to the table and can leverage technology to develop robust products that appeal to a greater share of the market.

What got you interested in tech? Did you have a mentor or something specific that inspired you?

I didn’t have any mentors or STEM programs; all I knew about computers was how they were portrayed in the media and, honestly, I wasn’t interested. However, one day, a friend showed me a software program he had written and let me test it; I was fascinated. To me, software is the true alchemy—we can create amazing, fun and beneficial products for humanity by writing and executing some lines of code! I realized I had found my passion and my calling.

Yanan Jia – Research Scientist II

What are some of the challenges you think women face in the tech space?

One talk I heard a couple of years ago in the ‘Women in Statistics and Data Science’ conference mentioned that compared to men, women tend to underestimate their contributions. As women, we need to be more confident and take credit for our own successes.

What got you interested in tech? Did you have a mentor or something specific that inspired you?

Growing up, I experienced first-hand how technology can help elevate and make life better, easier and more streamlined. From our phones to computers and web search to all the different types of apps. I wanted to be part of an organization that uses technology to make a positive impact to our world.

Samantha Yacobucci – Product Manager II, Mobile

Why is it important to diversify teams, especially when it comes to technology?

When explaining why I think diversity is important on any team in any industry, I use this example. I am on the short side, so imagine I work on a team designing bicycles with people of similar height to me. We design, build, and test these bicycles ourselves and they are AMAZING! We go to market and quickly find that because of the lack of our height diversity we cannot serve a whole swath of people. While it’s a silly example, it easily illustrates why having diversity—in age, background, gender and race is not only important but critical to success.

As a woman in tech, where do you hope the industry makes improvements specifically? And/or how do you hope the industry evolves now and into the future?

The two areas we need to make improvements is in hiring and retention. There have been many studies that show how both conscious and unconscious biases impact hiring. There are small but impactful steps companies can take to remove these biases. For example: 

  • Remove names from resumes when reviewing
  • Remove age, gender and other restrictive terms from the job description
  • Conduct panel interviews with diverse individuals

Now, once you have a diverse workforce, KEEP IT! Women tend to be the primary care givers and often leave the workforce because of lack of flexibility. There are many ways to create a healthy and inclusive work culture and to be successful, companies need to take these proactive steps.

Staci Meredith – Product Manager II, Sofia/OCR

Why is it important to diversify teams, especially when it comes to technology?

The more diverse the team, the more diverse the perspectives and experiences of that team. Not only can the team learn from each other’s diverse experiences and backgrounds, but that diversity can translate into better products that incorporate the unique needs of each diverse group. As we build new products, we need to be sensitive and understanding of the uniqueness of every group, and not see the world through our own eyes, but the eyes of those who will be using our products. Having a diverse team ensures that these different perspectives are considered and that our products meet the needs of all groups, not just one or two.

What are some of the challenges you personally think women face?

In addition to the continuing pay disparity between men and women, another challenge women face is access to promotions and senior leadership roles. I feel that women are continually passed over for promotion opportunities. Deserving women need to be promoted to highly visible leadership roles in their organization. Not only because promoting deserving women is fair and just, but young girls need to have these role models to look up to and see that there is no limit to what they can accomplish.

Lexi LoessbergZahl – Computational Linguist I

As a woman in tech, where do you hope the industry makes improvements specifically? And/or how do you hope the industry evolves now and into the future?

I hope to see companies continue to take diversity seriously. I want to see companies hire diverse employees and make them feel supported, valued and heard. Supporting diversity should never be just about checking a box or getting a "gold star" for meeting a quota, but because it is the ethically correct thing to do if we want to create a world where technology improves the lives of all, not just a privileged few.

Why is it important to diversify teams, especially when it comes to technology?

Technology has become integral in allowing people to access information and services. This means that an incredibly diverse userbase relies on technology. By building diverse teams that are representative of the user base we are supporting, we multiply the number of perspectives included in the design process of new technology.

These diverse perspectives allow us to identify the unique needs and barriers that people of different races, genders, sexualities, religious backgrounds and economic status experience. By addressing these needs, we can improve the access of disadvantaged and underserved communities to technology—a resource that opens doors to infinitely more resources.

Janice Minn – Principal Product Manager

As a woman in tech, where do you hope the industry makes improvements specifically? And/or how do you hope the industry evolves now and into the future?

In addition to hiring and supporting women, I would love to see our industry support our communities to ensure girls see themselves represented. I recently learned that after WWII, women made up most of the commuting workforce. This all changed in the mid-80s when personal computers became more prominent and were often given to boys versus girls. Previously, when male and female students entered college, they were coming in with the same computer experience but over time, male students had a competitive advantage and were given more opportunities. I would love companies to provide their employees time to mentor girls in tech and also financially support these organizations. I feel very fortunate to work for a company whose philanthropic efforts focuses on STEM and tech education in addition to DEI.

What are some of the challenges you personally think women face?

I think the challenges women face in tech are really no different than in other industries. I do worry about the effects the pandemic will have on women in the workforce since our unemployment numbers are at the lowest level since the late 80s. I worry the set-back is going to have a detrimental effect on our growth and the progress we’ve made to be represented in leadership positions. I think now, more than ever, it’s important for all of us to support and be advocates for each other. I love that the team I work with is comprised of almost 50% women. They help me grow both personally and professionally and work is way more fun and inspiring because of them.

Watch our recent round-table discussion below. 

HubSpot Video

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