Category Archives: Employment

Sponsorship isn’t enough: Why Tech Companies Are Failing To Attract Female Engineers

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the 2015 Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco on how tech companies could attract more software engineers. It was well received and illustrated how perceptions and strategies can be embraced to not only fill more tech jobs on the market but create a workplace that is attractive to men, women and all genders.

This talk is the first in a three part series on attracting developers, how startups can be more strategic and effective in their hiring process and why it’s essential to curate tech culture in the workplace to reduce developer churn.

Highlights from the talk include:

  • What developers want at work
  • The massive developer shortage in the United States (or not?)
  • Growing personal awareness of professional impact and contributions
  • Landing top quality tech talent is much harder than simply posting a job on the Internet
  • Pay equity for all people at tech companies
  • We all carry bias into the workplace and it affects our decisions
  • Pay inequality is exacerbated when intersectional traits are compared
  • Attracting the shy, “deer-like” developer to your company
  • Why it’s important to offer developer focused content on your blog
  • Have open source projects tied to your company product
  • Sponsoring gender focused tech events does not ensure a transfer of trust
  • Job descriptions should not look like a “boyfriend list”
  • Consider collaborative vs competitive terms in job descriptions
  • False equivalent that women developers are all be new to tech
  • Reciprocal mentoring is a value focused perk for developers
  • Promote from within by identifying staff in non-technical roles for potential and aptitude
  • All genders find company values to be highly important
  • Health benefits for everyone: all genders, transgender employees and same sex partners
  • Consider gender neutral job perks: offer training to level up and conference budgets

A few interesting studies and findings I came across while researching my talk:

Being a scientist doesn’t reduce your gender bias – In a study I cite, both male and female professors were asked to rate students applying for a potential job within the lab. The findings were significant that both genders of professors rated the male student as more competent and deserving a higher starting pay than the female student. The disappointing thing is that the genders of the students were part of the study’s variables so the ratings were most likely based on gender stereotypes

Millennials are changing workplace values – In the past, self sacrifice by staying at a job you didn’t like was the norm. Getting ahead was the end game in the workplace. Now, having a sense of purpose and contributing to value based initiatives are driving employment choices for the younger generations.

Pervasive assumptions about women’s work goals still exist (and are still wrong) – While the talk was themed for the conference, my research uncovered an interesting fact: Both men and women want similar things in the workplace. This goes against assumptions made by both sexes that women value family over career. In fact, it turns out this same study was conducted 20 years ago and still, both men and women assume women’s minds are elsewhere when they’re on the job.

The speaker lineup for LWT was pretty phenomenal and in the upcoming weeks I will share my thoughts on some of the other talks from the conference.

Slides have been posted to SlideShare:

sendgrid logo

I’m Joining SendGrid As Developer Evangelist

I will have a new, full time role starting in April: Developer Evangelist at SendGrid 

How do I feel about it?  Amazing!

What will I be doing?

I will help developers adopt SendGrid as a platform to help them be more productive.  How?  By helping them focus more on their app and less on email.  This will take shape as I attend conferences, meetups, hackathons and network with startups in the Bay area.

I will be part of the Developer Relations teams at SendGrid which is currently four strong (five counting myself).  I will build awareness, customer relationships and cool apps with SendGrid to showcase the power of the platform.  I will help to improve and documentation, resources and social content around the product.

Am I leaving San Francisco?

While SendGrid is based in Boulder, Colorado and I will visit the offices frequently, I will stay right here in the Bay area.  What you will see is an increase in my attendance to even more local events that are developer focused.

What is SendGrid anyway?  

It’s an email platform for developers to improve the number of emails that get delivered to the inboxes of their customers.  What type of emails?  Transactional ones — for example, one of SendGrid’s clients is Pinterest.  Every time someone repins an item of yours, you get an email notification about it (unless you’ve adjusted the settings).  Well, in the case of Pinterest developers, they don’t have to spend hours building out and then maintaining an email system to send out those notifications.  Instead Pinterest hands off the notification emails to SendGrid’s servers to do the heavy lifting of getting all those emails into customer inbox’s.

Added benefits for the developers include analytics on delivered, opened and bounced email plus clicks.  There are actually several API’s including the event API, the parse API, newsletter API and more!

What is a Developer Evangelist?

When I redesigned my site here at ButYourAGirl.com a few months ago, I wanted to think of a new tagline that represented my passion, skills and experience.  What did people remember about me?  Well from technology to hair to moving to San Francisco, it’s my contagious enthusiasm!  Combine that evangelical skill with a target audience of developers and you have the role of developer evangelist!

Now wait a minute Adria!  Aren’t you a consultant?  

Haven’t you been helping companies solve all sorts of problems for the last six years?

Yes, that is true.  I have been a problem-solver-for-hire since 2006 helping companies big and small with technology, the cloud, email management, social content strategy and more but — since last year, I have been seeking something more tangible.  Something I could point to and say, “I was a part of that.  I built that.  I created that.”  Last year I wasn’t really sure what that looked like.  I explored a lot of different options.

Over time, I took a look around my circle of friends, peers and mentors.  I examined what they did for work and how they spent their free time.  I know I looked up to Scott Hanselman, a friend and mentor of mine.  Scott works at Microsoft and while for many years I thought this was like working on the Star Wars Death Star, I finally took a look from a different angle and realized how much Scott enjoyed his work and how he was participating in things that mattered to him.  He’s been making his Hanselminutes podcast for several years, started up a new podcast called This Developer’s Life

I also took at look at Sasha Laundy (in the yellow), a friend of my roommate’s had been making some nice moves as well.  Not only had she been cutting it up at Twillio, her Women Who Code group was doing an amazing number of events with solid attendance.  She’s now moved to working at Codeacademy in NYC doing what she’s most passionate about: education.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/6517994367/in/set-72157628435144501

Through these new lenses of people employed full time by their employer yet making things happen, I decided that working for someone else wasn’t the the problem after all but finding the right company to work for was.

You can maintain your identity, values and a balance between life and work.

Founders Panel: How to Build Your Startup Team

Once I was able to process that, I began exploring what I loved most about consulting and looking for a job that would allow me to do those as often as possible.  I saw Eric Koger, CEO of ModCloth, speak a couple weeks back on how startups should go about building their dream teams.  On the panel with Eric was:

  • Julie Hartz of EventBrite
  • Rick Marini, Founder of BranchOut
  • Christian Wiklund, CoFounder of Skout

and Liz Gannes of AllThingsD was the moderator.  My biggest takeaway was something that Eric said about halfway through and that was to let talented people focus on their, “genius-level skills” like they do for the founder of ModCloth Susan (who is also his wife).  Susan isn’t burdened with administrative tasks; she focuses on what she does best – finding amazing pieces and artists that match the style and essence of the ModCloth brand.

I held values close to my heart and it paid off.

One thing that has been important to me if I ever were going to work for another company full time is the culture.  After visiting Zappos in 2010 with Mig Pascual late one Saturday evening after Blogworld in Las Vegas, I realized people could still be happy at work.  As Mig named off the ten core values at Zappos, I saw his eyes saying, “I love my job and I’m supremely happy to be here”.  I asked myself how I could find a company that I could feel that happ about.  The Zappos Culture Book simply reinforced this reading story after story from employees who had been with the company two, three, eight, nine, ten years.  Could I find the same thing in the tech sector?  In a startup?  I knew from then on that how people felt at work still mattered.  I continued to consult for companies but never forgot the look in Mig’s eyes that night.

Was I asking too much?  How does one find a unicorn anyway?  Shouldn’t I just buckle down and do the work regardless of the culture?

It wasn’t until last November that I experienced something similar as I had with Mig but this time it was Emmanuel from SendGrid telling me about his experience.  I was impressed that he’d had such a positive experience in seeing the culture of the company transform in a short period of time.  Accountability throughout a company and putting development first is important in a company that well…develops!

I network with the intent to build good connections with people doing interesting things.  I am happy to announce here on my blog that for the first time in six years, I am accepting a full time position with a company!

What’s next?

With a narrow focus on building value through communication at SendGrid, I will be spending a lot more time programming in rails, php and other languages.

You’ll still see me around the Bay area and at conferences so make sure to stop me and say hello!

TechCrunch Is Hiring! Looking For 3 Summer Interns

Do you drool each time a news story is posted on the front page of TechCrunch?

Would you like to live in the fast lane covering new technology startups and product launches?

If you’re a college student living in the San Francisco area, you may just be lucky enough to land the opportunity of a lifetime!

TechCrunch is looking for 3 full-time college interns to help them grow CrunchBase, a directory of tech companies, investors and all the important folks they cover in their articles.  CrunchBase is managed by TechCrunch editors and content is submitted by people and companies.

The Details

Requirements: Passionate about technology, the Internet, startups, business models.  Outstanding research and writing skills.

Why you want this: Invaluable learning opportunity and networking connections

Location: TechCrunch’s San Fransisco headquarters

Compensation: Paid internship of $2,500 per month

Duration: 10 week commitment

Start Date: Mid June 2011

Why Do An Internship?

Internships are certainly a great way to explore employment options but out here in San Francisco and in the tech world especially, you can lay the foundation for your career with the right handshake.   Take every opportunity seriously and you can begin to build an amazing network of people who will be there, ready and willing to step up for you.  Make your time count and become known for the quality of your work.

To Apply

Please send resumes to ea@techcrunch.com and include “Summer Intern Candidate” in your subject line.
Good luck!