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7 Women in Software Engineering Share Their Experiences

A Look At The Challenges They've Faced & How Their Companies Support Them

We know that the ratio of women to men in software engineering is overwhelmingly low. Scroll through just about any company's roster on Linkedin and see for yourself. It's depressing.

If you're not in the mood to engage in that little experiment, just check out this PwC study that found that only 15% of employees in STEM roles in the U.K. are women, and that women hold a mere 5% of leadership roles in the tech sector.

However, we also know that diversity is the top priority for 78% of talent leaders. This is good news for us, because our goal at PowerToFly is to close these gender gaps as quickly as possible - and the more companies that get on board, the faster we can do that.

We partner with companies that are not only committed to diversity and inclusion, but to fostering a sense of belonging for underrepresented candidates once they accept job offers.

In the meantime, we know that the struggle for many women and other minorities in tech is still real, and that being a woman in this male-dominated industry is no cake walk. That's why we invited women engineers at some of our partner companies to share their experiences in their own words.

They shared some of the biggest challenges they've faced as women in tech and how they overcame them, as well as why they feel supported and enjoy working at their current companies.

We hope reading about these experiences will make other women in software engineering realize they're not alone in the challenges they're facing, and that there are lots of companies making strides to better support women in tech. We also hope that reading this will inspire more companies to follow suit, especially given that women leave the tech industry at twice the rate of men.

Hats off to these 7 women and to the companies that support their work:

What's the coolest thing Promptworks does to support women engineers?

"One of my favorite things about Promptworks is how all the female engineers support each other. Having an amazing group of colleagues to lean on, vent to, and seek advice from has been vital to me. As soon as I joined the engineering team, I felt immediately part of this amazing family of women who also have my back."

—M.K., Software Engineer at Promptworks

Want to join Promptworks' team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about PromptWorks:
Promptworks builds custom software for companies by creating amazing technologies that help achieve their vision.

Benefits include:
Monthly work-from-home flexibility, Collegial atmosphere with family-style lunch twice a week on us, ergonomic work stations including seated & standing pair programming stations, 100% company-paid medical, dental, and vision insurance, 401(k) plan with company matching and more!

Why did you choose to work at Yelp?

"The best thing about Yelp is the culture. I had an amazing interview process which reflected how much Yelp values their employees. Once I got through, I received a welcome card from my team and AWE group and I still feel very loved at Yelp. Also, I love the people! They are very smart and innovative and Yelp gives us all the freedom to vent out our creativity."

—Supriya, Backend Engineer at Yelp.

Want to join Yelp's team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about Yelp:
Yelp engineering culture is driven by our values: we're a cooperative team that values individual authenticity and encourages "unboring" solutions to problems.

Benefits include:
Medical, dental, and vision insurance - 100% covered for Yelp employees, 401k program with company match, parental program: Bright Horizons, mother's rooms, paid baby bonding leave, well being and stress management resources, and more!

What's the biggest challenge you've faced at Ubiquity6 and how did you overcome it?

"One of the personal challenges I've dealt with at Ubiquity6 is imposter syndrome, which was definitely amplified by working with so many incredible engineers. Thankfully, my team is really supportive and I have been able to take ownership over some important projects. The combination of getting great constructive feedback while framing my mindset towards improvement has really helped build my confidence as an engineer."

—Robyn, Software Engineer at Ubiquity6

Want to join Ubiquity6's team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about Ubiquity6:
Ubiquity6 works with the design, infrastructure, and game engine teams to help guide the user through complex workflows involving spatial mapping, dynamic code loading, and game engine orchestration. Their challenge is to tie together all the different pieces of technology in a way that feels seamless to the end user.

Benefits include:
Generous PTO, flexible work hours, work-from-home, remote positions, medical and dental benefits including family coverage, and more!

What's the coolest thing Verisign does to support women engineers?

"Verisign has been extremely warm and welcoming. Your opinions and ideas are heard irrespective your gender and position in the company. Verisign has a Women in Technology group which organizes monthly workshops and seminars, encouraging women to participate and demonstrate their skills. It is attended by the entire company and not just women. The company is full of empowering women who constantly motivate you to break the stereotypes and fulfill your passion."

—Shreyashi, Software Engineer at Verisign

Want to join Verisign's team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about Verisign:
Verisign, a leader in domain names and internet infrastructure, enables internet navigation for many of the world's most recognized domain names.

Benefits include:
Medical, dental, vision and prescription plans, traditional and Roth 401(k) with company match, basic life insurance, optional life insurance for employee, spouse or child(ren), home and auto insurance and more!

What’s one of the most impactful things One Medical does for women engineers?

"I recently attended a fireside chat with Sheryl Sandberg who pointed out that while there are increasing programs aimed at bringing women into technical roles, there aren't as many women being promoted. One of the most impactful things I see that One Medical does is actually hire and promote female engineers into both senior engineering roles and engineering management roles. Not only are they being promoted, but there is noticeable support before, during, and after the promotion. Growth and learning is a big part of the culture here, and I am excited to take part in such a fulfilling company."

—Vanessa, Data Engineer at One Medical

Want to join One Medical's team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about One Medical:
One Medical builds amazing end-to-end solutions to connect patients and our care team in new and innovative ways.highly collaborative environment, not only will you be partnering with designers and product managers, you'll also be sitting shoulder to shoulder with the doctors and nurses who deliver care daily to One Medical patients.

Benefits include:
Top-notch dental, vision, and health insurance, paid parental leave, PTO, paid holidays, and sabbatical at 5 and 10 years
401K Match, One Medical membership for you and your family and more!

What's the coolest thing Fair does to support women engineers?

"Gender equity is a big thing at Fair. I once received a Fair-branded jacket that didn't quite fit right in the sleeves and waist. I tried to return it, but my boss wouldn't hear of it, citing Susan Fowler's leather jacket incident. Fair immediately offered to cover the jacket alteration costs for myself and other women in the company. I'm grateful to work at a place that values and includes its female employees as much as Fair does."

—Michelle, Lead Software Engineer at Fair.

Want to join Fair's team of Women Engineers?
They're hiring!

More about Fair:
Fair is looking for highly motivated engineers interested in delivering the next level of innovation to product search and discovery at Fair. You'll be designing and implementing new search features and the systems behind them, including the integration of natural language processing, heuristics, and machine learning systems used to generate and rank search results. You'll work with microservices on AWS, multiple languages, and a great engineering team with a fun culture.

Benefits include:
Equity incentives, 100% coverage of medical, vision and dental premiums for employees and their families, 100% paid parental leave for 4 months, 401(k) retirement plans and free lunch 5 days a week for every employee and more!

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

"Coming from coding school, my background was not in computer science nor did I graduate from college with a degree in engineering, so it has always been a bit of a struggle to build myself up. I remind myself that everyone is going through a learning process. I have spoken to my mentor about having imposter syndrome when I first started working at Yelp. He let me know that even he has moments of imposter syndrome. It is easier to relate to somebody when you hear that they are going through the same struggles as you and it's a good reminder that nobody is here to judge you. I think it's great that even when you mess up you don't have to be worried about getting fired. Yelp has a very supportive environment. In times of adversity I try to calm myself down and realize that everyone makes mistakes and tries to learn from them to be better."

—Julie, Full Stack Engineer at Yelp.

Scroll up or click here to learn more about Yelp & how to join their team.

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Want to see more great roles at companies committed to recruiting more women in software engineering? Check out our job board!

Zynga

An Evening for Women in Gaming with Zynga’s Women Tech Leaders

If you are an Austin-based gaming / tech professional and you'd like to attend this event, please email events@powertofly.com to be considered for an invite.

Attention Austin-based women in gaming! PowerToFly is thrilled to be partnering with Zynga, a global leader in interactive entertainment, to present a one-night-only evening of networking and tech talks led by Zynga's women tech leaders.

This is your chance to meet the women behind franchises like CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, Merge Dragons!™, Words With Friends™ and Zynga Poker™. We have plenty of other fun surprises in store for the night so you won't want to miss it!

The event will be held on Wednesday, June 19th from 5:30pm to 8pm at Zynga's office, located at 12357A Riata Trace Parkway, Suite 200, Building 5, Austin.

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Morgan Stanley

Anjali, Vice President, Technology

Anjali Menon, VP Technology with Morgan Stanley, sits down with Rebecca Knight at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Introduction

Growing up in India, Anjali didn't need to look very far for female role models in technology. She and her two sisters all had a knack for math and science and ultimately pursued careers related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.

A native of Bengaluru, a hub of technology and home to many startups, Anjali remembers learning in first grade to code in Basic, an elementary programming language, and using it to maneuver a digital turtle around a screen. In primary school, she learned other programming languages, such as Pascal and C, and then—as she put it—was on her way.

Anjali earned a BE in Computer Science and Engineering from C.M.R. Institute of Technology in Bengaluru, India, and an MS in Computer Science from the Courant Institute of Mathematics, New York University.

How did your love of technology lead you to Morgan Stanley?

I always had a real aptitude for mathematics and sciences—it's definitely a family trait. I was placed in a mathematics and sciences track in high school. In India, children—girls and boys alike—are often encouraged to enter STEM-related fields, such as engineering, medicine, and computer science, as there's always a need for those types of positions.

I came to New York City for graduate school, and it was there that I heard about Morgan Stanley and its three-month Technology Analyst Program. The program, known as TAP, involved intense, classroom-based training in application development, as well as in our various proprietary technologies. I liked the on-the-job training aspect of it, as well as the rotational structure, so I applied and was accepted to the program in 2011.

I was first placed with Field and Client Technologies in the Wealth Management division and worked primarily as a client-side developer on various reporting dashboards for Branch Managers and Financial Advisors. I later moved on to the capacity-metrics team, where we analyzed server metrics and reported on the health of the sector's infrastructure.

Now, after seven years, I'm an IT systems owner in Capital Markets, and I oversee development of the equities and options order-entry applications, as well as the syndicates validation engine. They're systems that our Financial Advisors use to validate and process stock-order placements, and they are essential to Morgan Stanley's trading operations.

Over the course of your career, have you noticed a sea change for female technologists? Do you see more women entering the field and rising to leadership positions?

Over the past few years at Morgan Stanley, I've seen the gender gap in technology narrow. We're very fortunate to see more and more women applying, and being hired, to TAP.

Representation is so important to young women in school and university. It's our responsibility as women technologists to be the change we wish to see in the world, so we need to actively reach out to these women and present ourselves as role models to develop a consistent pipeline through events like the firm's Women in Technology panels, internship opportunities, and our Girls Who Code summer immersion program, to name a few.

You're an active participant in the firm's annual delegation to the Grace Hopper Celebration, an international gathering of female technologists. What do you enjoy most about the event?

Without question, I enjoy being around so many other talented female technologists and seeing what they're working on in terms of research, either as academics or professionals in private companies. When I was in graduate school, men always outnumbered women, generally 60/40. So when you're at a conference surrounded by other women with similar backgrounds, interests, struggles and achievements, it's simultaneously comforting and inspiring.

As an experienced member of the firm's delegation, I'll be doing a lot of formal and informal interviews with students who approach our booth at the conference. With 20,000 people scheduled to attend, we anticipate a lot of foot traffic. When I chat with students, I talk to them about their specific interests in technology. Seeing what candidates are interested in and what they can bring to the firm is always exciting.

What do you say to students who are interested in entering STEM fields?

It's so important to know yourself as a person, in terms of your preferences and the environment where you'll be happiest. Develop a strong background in computer science, and remember that first impressions are often based on how you present on paper, so make sure all of your key accomplishments are reflected on your resume. Also, keep an eye out for important opportunities, from information sessions to internships—anything that can lead to someone or something that can open a door.

Asking questions is also a big part of any job, so don't be afraid to speak up, especially if you're a woman. In addition, advocating for yourself is a big part of advancing and, ultimately, getting to where you want to go. It's always wonderful to have colleagues who will speak up for you, but a fundamental skill is learning to speak up for yourself, highlighting your own accomplishments and showing what you've personally brought to a team effort.

What are some of your favorite things about working in tech? What's been the most fun for you?

Technology evolves constantly—it's a vast engine that powers our business. Morgan Stanley computer scientists, in essence, build and curate that engine. Personally, I love the diversity of frameworks, languages, and platforms available to do so. As a result, there's never just one cookie-cutter method of solving a problem, and it's the process of deciding among the myriad of possible solutions that I find the most challenging and, subsequently, most fulfilling.

This article was originally written by Morgan Stanley. Visit Morgan Stanley's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Morgan Stanley

Training the Next Generation of Women Technologists

The Girls Who Code summer program at Morgan Stanley introduces high school students to the joys of engineering and computer science.

It was "dancing robots day" at the Girls Who Code summer immersion program at Morgan Stanley's headquarters in Times Square, and each team was working intensely to write computer code to put a small two-wheeled robot through its proper paces: move forward, pause, spin in a circle.

"I really didn't know anything about coding before I came here," said Karla A., a 16-year-old from the Bronx who had helped decorate her team's robot with a green paper fringe. "My mom was like, 'This is a good skill set to have.' It's definitely cooler than I thought it would be."

This is the first time that Morgan Stanley has hosted the program, which is being held over seven weeks in July and August. The firm has donated office space, equipment and—above all—its women technologists and engineers, who are serving as one-on-one mentors to the 21 high school girls in the program and giving guest lectures about their career paths.

The goal is to help educate the next generation of future scientists and engineers, as well as to close the gender gap in technology. These goals overlap with the mission of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization that aims to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027.

Next-Gen Coders

"Our technologists are incredibly passionate about giving back, which is also one of the firm's key values," said Corinne Parker, Executive Director in Enterprise Technology & Risk, who helped spearhead the initiative through the firm's Women in Technology networking group.

She added, "Shaping the next generation of women tech professionals is something that's not only rewarding, but clearly essential in this day and age. This is why both our male and female technologists have been both eager and proud to participate in this initiative."

In addition to robotics, the girls are learning Python, Java Script, HTML and website design. The class's three teachers come from Girls Who Code, but their lessons are complemented by speakers from Morgan Stanley, whose stories the girls have found inspiring.

They heard, for example, from Louella San Juan, a Managing Director in Institutional Securities Technology, who majored in English in college and began her career in publishing before earning a master's degree in computer science and pivoting to a flourishing career in technology.

Other speakers have talked about the innovative technologies they are working on, from artificial intelligence and machine learning to data analytics and cybersecurity.

"This has definitely been very eye-opening in terms of where computer science can take you in your career," said Brianna V., a 16-year-old from Westfield, N.J. "We've had a lot of inspiring speakers who are women, who have talked to us about careers in technology. I think it's definitely going to be an option for me."

Path for Sisters

Darby P., a rising senior who lives in West Hempstead, N.Y., agreed, saying that the personal stories from Morgan Stanley executives—including her mentor, with whom she spends at least an hour a week—have been particularly resonant. "The speakers have been great," she said. "My older sister did Girls Who Code, so I kind of followed her path here, but experiencing it myself has just opened my eyes to how many opportunities there are for women in technology."

The course begins with the fundamentals of computer science and proceeds to make the girls familiar with all the disciplines they would need to work with both the front and back ends of a website, said Ilmira Estil, the head teacher. Then there is the unit on robotics, during which she led the girls through the coding and hardware essentials they would need to make their robots move and play music.

"Who can tell me what a circuit is?" Estil asked the class. A circuit, she explained, is a path around which electricity can flow. The girls followed the lesson—which leans heavily on the lingo and technical terms used by professionals—on their laptops and on an overhead screen.

"It's really cool to be here at Morgan Stanley," said Unice C., a 17-year-old from Merrick, N.Y., who was wearing light blue nail polish and working on a "Star Wars" themed robot. "It's my first time in a corporate environment."

"Workforce of the Future"

Posters in the classroom motivate the girls to collaborate, speak up ("Don't be passive!") and remind them of the building blocks of computer science: variables, loops, conditionals and Boolean operations.

Kanyce P., a 16-year-old from the Bronx, was part of a four-girl team that worked on the PrideBot, a rainbow-themed robot that played the theme song from "The Legend of Zelda" video game while it spun in circles. "I didn't really think I was going to like robotics, but I was the first one to figure out how to make our robot move," she said.

Robert Rooney, the firm's Head of Technology, visited the class just in time to see the robots dancing. "It's vital to support young women as they pursue studies and careers in computer science and engineering," he said. "They are our workforce of the future."

While checking out the machines the girls were building, he peppered them with questions: Were you coding before you got here? Are you enjoying it? What language are you coding in?

Much to his delight, Vivian F., a 16-year-old from Queens, when asked which career path she was considering, told him she wanted to go into finance.

"You're in the right place," he responded. "That's what we do."

This article was originally written by Morgan Stanley. Visit Morgan Stanley's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more."

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