Woman Engineer

Last Monday I attended the Seattle Girl Geek (monthly?) dinner that was held for this occasion at Zulily in downtown Seattle.  It was an informative session with about 150 female “techies” who were all there for a sneak peak into the company, industry, and just women advancing themselves in technology in general.  I typically hate being categorized as the “female engineer” and I also don’t typically like a room full of those “female engineers” but like any woman in a science related field (or any field) I like to hear how women can empower themselves in their career, take chances, make changes, pretty much do anything they have ever wanted to do.  And this event was good for that.

A roomful!
A roomful!

Zulily hosted all of us women in various jobs and industries around Seattle for a great spread of food and wine and with time to introduce ourselves to new women at our tables.  I sat with a group of four who were either in programming or aerospace engineering and they were an enjoyable bunch.  One was even a fellow Michigander who had gone to Michigan Tech (a rare find).  This talk struck some key points with me:

  1. Women make up less than 10% of most engineering and tech fields and that is through college and employment.  That number decreases as the years of experience decreases.  Do I want to add to that number or why don’t more women find engineering sustainable?
  2. The balance of men and women in a work organization is critical.  Too many women and decision making slows down.  Too many men and not enough creative energy and collaboration occurs.  There should be 40-60% makeup of women to hit that sweet spot.
  3. Why do women put themselves down to men?  Women should compete against men as a woman and not as a man because those are our strengths and we should own those strengths.  We should also not consider a task or position to advanced for our capabilities without giving ourselves a chance.
  4. Learn to be okay to show emotions at work.  Sure, we need to also be able to contain or control our emotions to a point but not expressing our emotions can lead to miscommunication and we can be so hard to read when we keep all of emotions internal.
  5. I was surprised by how many unfilled tech positions there are in the United States just because it seems like everyone in Seattle is in one.  But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to accuse companies of hiring overseas if we aren’t filling the positions needed here.  (the number they said was some 2 million jobs)
  6. Zulilly has 200 jobs open right now and have grown to a $1.2 billion dollar business in just its five years of existing.  That is truly remarkable and even though I don’t have an interest in working for them that is quite impressive. They also have 58% women and 42% men with half of their executives being women so that is also quite surprising for being a tech company.
My table of awesome women.
My table of awesome women.

There were other takeaways but those were the main ones.  I plan to check out some future ones as well.


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