With every year that passes, the discussion around women in the workplace seems to completely change and yet stay the same. In 2022, women are adjusting to the new normal again. After balancing home, school, and zoom meetings, the return to the office is here, but it looks different. The rise of remote work has its pros and cons and our continued reliance on technology has completely changed what it means to work in tech.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we took some time to chat with the women at Smartrr, the membership subscription service platform, to learn about their experience in the industry. Next to engineering, technology and telecommunications attract the lowest rates of women to entry-level positions (Women in the workplace, McKinsey 2021). About 40% of women in tech are the only women on their team. We wanted to know what it’s like to be a woman in this industry first-hand.
We learned how the pandemic affected their work and how the way that their company empowers women of all levels.
What has been your experience as a woman in the tech industry?
I feel fortunate to have had the education, opportunities, and mentors I needed to give me an equitable experience in the tech industry. That being said, I know this is not the case for all women. That’s why I’m so proud to work at a company that is diligent about hiring and supporting the talented women currently working in or entering this space. –Gaby, Co-founder, and CEO
Out of all the different industries I’ve worked in, I find the tech industry tends to be the most aware of the importance of hiring talented women and on a whole, they seem to be very focused on doing so. I also love seeing the way that women in the tech industry are able to lift each other up—I feel like we’re constantly looking for ways to expand each other’s networks or to help one another as much as we can. –Annette, Director of Client Relations
What challenges have you faced as a woman in tech?
As not just a woman but a woman of color, I feel I’ve had to work 10 times harder to be taken seriously in some cases. It’s easy to slip into feelings of resentment and think “I bet X didn’t have to do this…” but I’ve learned to alter my thought process. The truth is working harder only makes you smarter. It's like doing more crunches at the gym than anyone else. You’re only benefiting yourself in the long run. –Brianna, Strategic Program Manager
What has Smartrr done in the past year to support women in the workplace?
The minimum we can contribute to this world given the unbelievable opportunity Smartrr has given us all is to give the opportunity to others who may not be exposed to the same opportunities. I believe a diverse group of life experiences brought together can bring out the best in each other and together we can make something spectacular. We have and will continue to hire diverse talent with nontraditional backgrounds looking to enter the tech world, including but not limited to female candidates. Our people are our biggest asset. Today, we are proud to say that nearly half of our team identifies as female, including the majority of our leadership team and over 40% of our engineering and product team. –Gaby“[At Smartrr,] nearly half our team identifies as female, including the majority of our leadership team and over 40% of our engineering and product team.”
Representation for women in all levels of the workplace have improved since 2016, but the growth is slowing down and drops off by 75% between entry-level and the C-suite for women of color (Women in the workplace, McKinsey 2021). At the same time, employees whose managers are women are more likely to feel supported in the workplace. The value of having women of all types represented at all levels is not lost on the team at Smartrr.
Who is a woman in leadership that inspired and supported you? What unique qualities and experiences allow women to do this?
I have had a unique experience in that my entire career I've reported to female leaders. Diane Mammon, Sheridan Orr, Jen Horton, Juliana Pereria and now, Gabriella Yitzhaek Tegen. This didn't happen by any sort of design just organically. Each leader from different organizations, backgrounds, life phases, and stages, yet all have made an incredible impact on not only my career but my life. I am forever grateful for their mentorship and even more so the chances they took on me. Each of them saw something in me that I couldn't see myself and challenged me until I could. Realizing that their experience in the workplace has not been the same, I am the direct beneficiary of their hard work and persistence. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention my role model; my single mother whom I watch climb the corporate tech ladder from bottom to top. –Shannon, Director of Marketing
I’ve worked alongside and reported into mostly women for almost my entire career. Like a sponge, I’ve tried to absorb the best qualities of all these individual women. I want to express gratitude, especially to Jenn Levy, Sharrie Huang, Annie Kreighbaum, and my mentor, Rebecca Zhou. All of these women have taught me skills that don’t just make me a better employee and team member, but how to be a better person in this world. –Brianna, Director of Client Relations
Why is it important for Smartrr to have women in leadership?
Representation Matters! It’s important to have women in leadership to ensure we have as many different perspectives as possible in the conversation. My number one priority is to create the best, most rewarding experience for our team by reinforcing that they have a voice and should feel heard, seen, and supported throughout the Smartrr organization. –Gaby, Co-founder and CEO
The role of women in the workplace continues to grow and change. With every generation that enters the workforce, we demand more and get further ahead. Since McKinsey started their study in 2015, on the whole the trends have been positive for women, but it’s important to be diligent about supporting the next batch of recruits.
What’s one piece of advice you have for women starting out in the tech industry?
The tech world, especially one that is gravitating more and more to virtual settings, can be lonely. Though it can be uncomfortable, push yourself to find peers and mentors in the space that you can confide in, lean on, and learn from. We are better together. –Gaby, Co-founder and CEO
No one can tell the difference between real and faked confidence—and truly, is there any difference? Don’t let any negative comments get to you. Act with grace but know when you need to assert yourself to get the job done. Don't let any comments about the way you look or dress (or how you should look or dress) get to you. Don’t use exclamation points just to be likable. Always lift other female colleagues and observe the traits of successful women around you. –Brianna, Strategic Program Manager
When women are lifted, we are all more successful. At Startup Slang, we believe in gender equality and are proud to work with leaders like the women at Smartrr.