Interview

Happy International Women's Day! Six Women Share Their Most Meaningful Moments in Tech

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The women who work at Mavenlink have come from myriad paths to get to the roles in technology they hold today. And they are critical to our company — their contributions shape our business strategy, product development, client success and our code. 

In celebration of International Women's Day, we will be sharing the stories and expertise behind six outstanding female employees who continue to drive Mavenlink forward. We asked several women to share what attracted them to the highly competitive, male-centric technology industry and the challenges associated such.

Sabina Pons | Director of Client Success

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When I was in school, there was a stigma that a career in technology was a tough road for a woman. Admittedly, I shied away from it and studied public relations, a major for which my career counselor said I was aptly suited. Sixteen years later, I look back and appreciate that I made my way into tech. 

As a woman in tech, I'm bringing diversity to teams and projects that are aimed at improving products and processes. This is what makes coming to work fun. It feels good to be a leader and key contributor on initiatives that save millions of dollars for an organization, improve customers' experiences, and ensure best practices.

Melissa Bonney | Senior Director of Training and Client Engagement

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There is a perception, unique to women, that work will be secondary to other aspects in life as women have historically been the primary caregivers in the family. The pressure is very real for women in the workplace with families to prove they can excel both with family commitments and as a valuable and dedicated employee. Career focused women continue to feel pressure to prove their value/dedication in a fast paced industry as technology. To combat this, we tend to downplay our family involvement to be taken more seriously. Women can be perceived as less knowledgeable in the tech industry despite our commitment being in alignment with our male counterparts. Finding balance continues to remain a struggle as I strive to prove my value and worth in both aspects of my life.

Paulette Luftig | Software Engineer

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I’ve had the same role models for years, mainly women, who support me in my career goals. They aren’t celebrities or people whose names you’d know. But they’re special to me, as they’ve shown me how to have integrity in my work, my teamwork, and myself.  

It can be a struggle to stay authentic to myself in my role as a software engineer. The majority of people I work with share similar experiences and value what I value; however, I can tend to be more feminine and in touch with my emotional experience. I’ve used this emotional connection as an asset. During lunch and learn sessions, I teach my coworkers the value of giving and receiving feedback in a positive environment, combining soft skills with hard work. This has helped us all be more in touch with not just our own work and feelings, but also those of our teammates.

Val Lord | Senior QA Analyst

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Prior to shifting into tech, I worked for small businesses. That gave me the opportunity to mentor young people, especially women, and show them what kind of careers are possible. At the same time, I understand the challenge of being a female in technology. I find myself editing what I say when I express myself because I worry my being vulnerable might be perceived as a weakness.

What I do to combat this is remind myself of the importance of maintaining my empathy, personal strength, and independence. And of course, I always remember to pack my sense of humor!

Catherine Meyers | Web Developer

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I have an aunt who was the president of a quarry. Think about that. She’s a leader in a man’s world. Seeing her in a role many would strive for taught me what it is to be a leader and also female. I’m also privileged to have so many women at Mavenlink, like Katlyn Daniluk for instance, to look up to and learn from.

Outside of Mavenlink, I meet people who are very surprised that I do what I do. Often, they make assumptions that I must not be a “real” engineer or that what I do must be the easiest form of engineering. I feel like I have to prove myself rather than being taken at face value. My most fulfilling moment is therefore simply that I’m here, engineering. I used to be a professional opera singer, before taking an engineering bootcamp and transitioning to this role. So just by being here, I feel like I’m making it easier for the next generation.

Maggie Sheldon | Senior Director of Product

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I grew up, at least in early adulthood, watching women such as CJ Cregg on West Wing, Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, and Elizabeth McCord on Madam Secretary. Through TV, therefore, I was able to see models of women leaders who balance their professional and personal lives with confidence. This was always supplemented by women in my real life, like my mom, who is a lawyer. I would watch Mom speak up for herself without hesitation, which really ingrained in me the value of how strong, confident, and leading a woman can be. Even more so, it was seeing her transform moments of doubt into her most powerful speeches.

At Mavenlink, I get to learn from an even more diverse group of both women and men. With this, I’ve gotten to find more and more ways to create and hone a safe place that’s inclusive to more people. That’s been the most rewarding trend of my career in tech so far.

A Better Future STEMs from Workplace Diversity

At Mavenlink, we are breaking the barriers of what is traditionally held as “female” and “male” professions. We bring more ideas, and more diverse ideas, to the table than at any time before in our company’s history. Our women and men both value and lead each other in becoming technically proficient, collaborative, and open minded. That makes us a better better company for both our employees and our clients.

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Editors Note: The original version of this post was published in July, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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