Learning About Gaming with the Women Leaders of Zynga
PowerToFly headed back to Toronto on July 17th to learn about gaming from some of the leaders in the industry. We were thrilled to partner with Zynga on our second (sold out!) event together in an evening of networking and tech talks highlighting their women tech leaders.
Hosted by PowerToFly CEO Milena Berry, the night kicked off with networking before Zynga's Martin Edelman, Senior Director, Toronto Development Services officially began the night with a brief keynote address.
Next up, we dove deeper into some of Zynga's well known products, which include Words With Friends™ and Zynga Poker™, via a series of tech talks and product demos hosted by Di Chang, Senior Director, Engineering; Whitney Mak, Engineering Manager and Jackie Fong, Sr User Experience Designer.
Di, Whitney and Jackie stuck around for an open panel discussion, where they were joined by Rebecca Robinson, Sr HR Business Partner. Our panelists discussed their careers in gaming, dove into what Zynga is looking for in new team members and, of course, answered questions from our eager audience.
This very special gathering closed out with plenty of more opportunities to network over food and drinks before we had to say goodnight.
Zynga actively cultivates a culture of diversity, creativity, and growth in the pursuit of their core mission: Connecting the World Through Games. Zynga offers competitive pay, industry leading perks and benefits, and an environment committed to success for all. Plus, Zynga has 50% female representation on their Board of Directors and was recognized by Comparably for "Best CEO for Women" and "Best Company for Diversity".
Zynga is hiring! Visit their page on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles.
Supply and demand… we all know that as job seekers, high demand and low supply work in our favor. It's a booming job market already, but even more so for data analysts.
The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech
"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."
I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.
Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.
So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.
And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.
This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.
Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."
In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.
What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)
Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:
How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back
With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.
When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.
They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.
- Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."
Why You Should Care
Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.
- To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.
Tallon sums it up well:
"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"
So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.
Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.
That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.
Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.
- Network with top executives even if you aren't looking for a new role
- First look at flexible, work-from-home, in-office roles
- Join live chats led by expert women in your field and beyond
It goes without saying that at some point in your career, you'll come down with a cold or virus that will require you to stay home from work, drink excessive amounts of tea, and make good use of that gravity blanket you impulse-bought off of Amazon.
A Thought-Provoking Conversation on How the Firm Empowers Their Associates
We all need something to motivate us to show up to work each day – to have a purpose, to feel engaged and fulfilled. For some, it's our coworkers. For others, it's our clients. It might even be our company's mission.