For some time, Intuit has stood as a leading corporation in driving diversity and inclusion in the often homogeneous, male-driven Silicon Valley. Sasan Goodarzi, CEO of Intuit and the top CEO for diversity among large companies, has pledged to improve diversity even more.
As a part of this pledge, Intuit hosted the Tech Women Intuit Summit at their Mountain View, California, campus. As part of the Tech Women @Intuit initiative, Intuit leaders encouraged other sites to join in and host their own summit panels, workshops, and talks.
Here at the Boise site, we had an amazing panel of women:
- Julie R., UX researcher
- Amy G., product manager
- Katie B., API developer
- Erin H., senior product designer
- Janine D., business data analyst
Each woman on the panel shared her perspectives on women’s roles within the company and the tech sphere, as well as some solid inspiration to drive us into the future. Energized by their words, we wanted to share some of their tips and advice.
What skills, talent, and knowledge do you need to work in tech?
Katie: “If you like to learn, you’ll be phenomenal in tech. Technology is ever-changing, and learning is a mandatory skill.”
Erin: “All of this is just confidence and curiosity, problem-solving. If you like to solve a problem, you can do that in any field—tech being one of them.”
Janine: “Being a really good communicator. You can learn a lot in any role that can be applied to being a technologist.”
Amy: “It’s not just the product organization that is in tech. The entire company is in tech.”
What advice do you have for building the confidence to pursue tech?
Erin: “Educating yourself. For me, the way I approached that was getting as much information as I can. I failed miserably at a lot of things when I was starting as a new UX designer. The more you educate yourself, the more confidence you build.”
Amy: “Surrounding yourself with the right people is a huge step.”
Julie: “Having a mentor-mentee agreement so that we could check in and really make sure that we had the progress. Mentors are very, very important when you’re starting out on something that you’re not so sure about.”
How can women be taken more seriously in the tech space—especially in positions of authority?
Julie: “I saw a great talk from Luvvie [Ajayi]; she is a great motivational speaker. What she said is 1. Have a seat at the table. 2. Don’t be silent—silence serves no one. Make sure you have a voice. 3. Disrupt what’s going on. I don’t mean being rude—just standing up and speaking your truth. And there are three checkpoints that you always need to ask yourself before you disrupt: Did you mean it? Can you defend it? Did you say it with love?”
Katie: “One thing that’s worked really well for me is that my dev lead and my team members can sense when I’m quiet, and they will often just say, ‘Hey, Katie, what’re your thoughts on this?’ And if your team is not doing that, maybe tell your lead, ‘Hey, this works really well for my communication style. Can you do that?’”
Janine: “I think being a new person to a field is an advantage. If you don’t understand it, how would the customer understand it? How will you explain it to [a coworker in another department]? Having an outsider’s view can help you break down chunks and understand it.”
Where do you think Intuit and TSheets are succeeding in encouraging women in tech?
Erin: “Everybody is really nice, and people want you to learn, want to hear what you have to say. I think we’re really fortunate. You have so much opportunity built into our culture that you can utilize. Don’t let it go to waste.”
Amy: “I think it’s really important for other women, like at any organization, to help enable other women. I have other women and men both call on me [and say] ‘You have a really good perspective on this because of your background. Speak up. Tell us.’ Having women and men in your corner [has been a huge help].”
Julie: “When I came here four months ago, I was like ‘Ok, what’s this environment going to be like?’ Everybody here is just so self-aware, it’s ridiculous. I feel that TSheets, Intuit—and again, coming in new—does a really good job of inclusivity and making space and looking at everyone. I’m very thankful for this type of an environment that allows you to thrive.”
What do TSheets and Intuit need to work on?
Katie: “Wording on job recommendations matters, and we are making strides to fix that, to make more gender-neutral job recs.”
Julie: “This is probably a cultural gap, but as women, we bring a lot of unique personalities to the table. The people at the top are usually men, and we have to kind of alter who we truly are if we want to rise to the top. And I think there needs to be some change there. Being a woman, you have great strengths that you can bring to the table that can compliment men, but…we’re actually forced to act more like men, the higher you go up the ladder. That’s a gap anywhere, not just at Intuit.”
Janine: “I think, too, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the fact that there are five white women up here. We really need to make a commitment to hiring more diverse people, and not just make an excuse because we’re in Idaho.”
What advice do you have for parents who want to prepare their daughters for the workforce?
Julie: “What I’ve found is that self-awareness piece: Really focus in on what her strengths are and those inner strengths that help her get through life.”
Erin: “For all girls, it’s knowing they can take up space and that they are valuable, and they have room to explore whatever they want.”
Janine: “[You could inform her of reality, and say] ‘sexual harassment is a problem, and that could happen, and you can talk to me, and I will listen.’ But being honest about the reality of the world can help her prepare.”
Amy: “Going into college and thinking workforce-wise, I didn’t know what possibilities there were. Later on, I was like, ‘Why did I pick marketing? I don’t really like this.’ So I think not really knowing what you like eats away at your confidence more than knowing what you don’t like. If my parents had [suggested shadowing or exploring career options], I think that would have been huge, too.”
Katie: “Thinking back to when I was 16…I wanted to be a dentist. My parents were like, “Ok, I’m getting a root canal and you’re going to shadow.’ I did not want to be a dentist after that…Ask her what she wants to do and then give her the opportunity to see that job in action. It’ll just go from there, naturally.”
Were you nervous to work into tech because you were afraid no one would take you seriously?
Amy: “It’s more, ‘I feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about, so then maybe nobody will take me seriously.’ So then, it goes back to the whole, ‘What can you do ahead of time to build confidence and set yourself up for success?’”
Erin: “The concept of imposter syndrome, lots of people experience that feeling of ‘I don’t belong here. I’m not good or smart enough. What I have to say is disruptive.’ Over time, you start realizing that everyone has those feelings. It’s ok. You still have to take a risk.”
Janine: “The more I learn, the more I realize that there’s more to learn. If you’re humble enough to acknowledge that you don’t know something, then people will recognize that and want to teach you. If you come in guns blazing and act like you know everything, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to learn.”