Job Title: Senior User Experience Designer
Years working in the tech industry: 7
On the promise of equal opportunity:
When I was 6 months old my parents left a communist country and brought the three of us here with only $100, a single suitcase, and hopes that I would be afforded equal opportunity throughout the rest of my life. That hope is the reason they left everything behind so I think they had no choice but believe it. So, yes, I would say I had a strong belief that I would be afforded equal opportunities and that if I worked hard, I could do anything, have anything.
On the ultimate role-model:
My mother. She’s a business owner and the toughest woman I know. She taught me so many important things early — the most impactful being it’s ok to say no and not apologize for it. She’s brutally honest, a giver (but never takes shit from anyone), and is constantly working hard to be the best at what she does. She is exactly what I believe every woman needs as a role model in their life.
On whether women were treated differently than men during her years in higher education:
No, I was fortunate enough to attend a University with a strong presence of woman leadership and an inclusive environment.
On her current role:
I work at a mid-sized tech company as a Senior User Experience Designer. I absolutely love my job because it provides me the opportunity to utilize my analytical skills alongside my creative ones.
I’ve worked with several incredibly talented women that have helped me get to where I am today. Wendy Hawkins, Sheetal Prabhu and Christine McCarey are just a few bad-ass women leaders that I’ve had the privilege of learning from.
On being overlooked for career advancement based on gender:
Yes, absolutely. I stayed in a position almost twice as long as a male coworker with the same experience level before being considered for advancement. I ended up leaving that position and eventually went back to it when they offered me equality.
I’ve been working in an industry and a field that is male-dominated and riddled with gender inequality for seven years now, and nothing has changed in that time.
On being a victim of sexual harassment, and the importance of the #metoo movement:
Yes [I’ve experienced sexual harassment from someone overseeing me in a managerial position]. I am thrilled that the #MeToo movement is happening — that women, including myself, feel more confident in pushing back when confronted with inappropriate behavior. I’ve never been quiet about pushing back, but the movement has helped me push back even louder — reaching more people.
On hearing stories of discrimination from more senior women:
Those stories still feel contemporary. I think the manifestation of the issues are different today, but certainly not an improvement.
On ‘The Boys Club’ — still going strong:
I’ve been working in an industry and a field that is male-dominated and riddled with gender inequality for seven years now and nothing has changed in that time. Perhaps we are talking about the issue a little more now, but from my immediate vantage point, I still see very few women in the seats at the table. It’s a boys club and women don’t last long in it. The lack of diversity in decision making perpetuates the problem.
Not so much — on whether significant change is taking place in work culture and opportunities for women:
No, I don’t feel optimistic about significant change happening. I think a lot of people are talking about change but not implementing it. I believe there is more resistance to implementation now due to the political climate. It’s almost like we are on the verge of the moment, but something is holding us back.
Thank you for your service — on the support of male peers:
I would say that it’s a supportive atmosphere for the most part, but very few men are willing to fight for you. Sure they want you to succeed, but not at the expense of their own comfort.
On how women can contribute to lasting change:
I think the change starts with a woman’s attitude. It’s important for women to speak up. Ask hard questions. Call people out on their bullshit. Stop saying “sorry” and start saying “don’t interrupt me”. Help out other women and be supportive to everyone.