Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Tech
Hi everyone, we’re gonna get started shortly. So welcome today’s panel to today’s panel, celebrating women in tech. We’re really excited to have you all here as well as our panelists. So just to go over our agenda today, we’ll have some introductions, then we’ll have a panelist discussion. And then finally, we’ll have a q&a session where you can ask any questions you might have for our panelists. So just introducing the clubs that are hosting this event, we have the women in computer science club. And the goal is to empower women in the field as well as build a supportive community. You can join Wix on the CES slack workspace if you’re not already a part of it. And then we have CSS MB a little bit about commuter scripting, and Stanley Monterey Bay is that we’re the first UX design and web development club at CSUMB. And I’m Anna, one of the CO presidents of the club. If you haven’t already, you can fill out the form on our website. And that will get you added onto our mailing list so you can get access to zoom links and other information for more events like this one. So next month, we’re really excited to collaborate with Wix again, and run an Android workshop. So be sure to stay tuned for more updates on that event as it approaches. So now, let’s meet our two panelists. We have Kate and Anita. Kate works as a product designer at Spotify. And Anita is a software engineer at the US Department of Defense, as well as serving as a part time learning engineer at CSUMB. So I’ll now hand it over to Andrea and Faye, who will be moderating this afternoon’s panel discussion.
Hi, everyone, my name is Andrea. So let’s get started and learn a little bit more about our panelists. We’ll start with Anita and then go to Kate, for our introductions and questions throughout the session. If you come up with any questions, please send them to Anna in the chat. And she’ll have them saved for our q&a session right after the panel discussion. So let’s get started. So can you please introduce yourself and share a little bit about what it’s what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
Anita Garcia 4:05
Sure. Thanks so much for having me on. I’m so thrilled to be here. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, by the way. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking me a specific question, you’re welcome to message me directly as well. So my name is Anita. I’m currently a full time Software Engineer for the Department of Defense, and doing some part time work with CSUMB. I’ve been in the workforce for about five years, so relatively new to the industry. I’ve also done some like entrepreneurial work before, and will likely continue that line in the future. My day to day varies as a software engineer, no day really looks the same. I would say that as a software engineer, I kind of look at my time in terms of like releases software releases. So yeah, it really depends on like how many tasks I have for that release. So typically what happens is, once the release is out, there’s, you know, a scope of tasks that are assigned to me. They’re either like bug fixes or improvements, and things like that. Sometimes documentation to actually to really depends on you know, what is needed. But yeah, so the mix of coding mix the planning, mix have gone on Instagram. Really just a lot, a lot of things. So yeah.
Kate Jung 5:38
So introduce myself now.
Kate Jung 5:42
Okay. Thank you for having me as well. My name is Kate. I’m an associate product designer based in Toronto. I actually graduated last year with a graphic design degree. And I’ve been working at Spotify for almost half a year right after I graduated. So I’m also very, very new to the industry. But as an associate product designer, right now, I work in freemium, which is a team at Spotify that focuses on coming up with new paid value for Spotify users. And basically, that means that I’m always thinking of more exciting novel ways for subscribers to enjoy Spotify, which I know is a pretty broad statement. But unfortunately, I can’t share exactly what project I’m working on, because it’s so new. But I love the chance to contribute to the beginning of a new product experience. And they kind of see it evolve to its end. So that’s really exciting. And then in terms of what my typical day looks like, I would say it’s either like 50% of meetings or 50%. design work, I usually have a big chunk of meetings in the morning, because I a lot of my teammates work remotely in different time zones, and they’re usually opposite of mine. And then those meetings are usually aligning with my product partners, like engineers, product managers, other designers, where we do brainstorming sessions together, and we just align on our priorities. And then in the afternoon, I usually have set focus blocks that I used to do heads down on measures, put on music, and I just grind out and push pixels. So that’s my favorite part of the day.
Faye Mensah 7:22
Wow, it’s really great to hear about both of your jobs and how passionate you are about both. And what would you say is the favorite thing, your favorite part about the job? Like the favorite thing that you get to do?
Anita Garcia 7:36
So I think, um, anytime I’m doing any sort of problem solving, like whether, like I said, it’s improving the application, or actually, you know, fixing a bug. Yeah, so like anything that’s like stimulating, and doesn’t seem like a distraction from that I enjoy.
Faye Mensah 8:04
How about you Kate?
Kate Jung 8:07
Yeah, sorry, there’s a little bit of a delay in my answer. I think my videos lagging a bit. And my answer is kind of cheesy. But I guess my favorite thing to do my job is watching users interact with my designs, and seeing them feel delighted by the experience, or at least have a positive experience from my designs. Because good design always puts users at the forefront of the product experience. It’s really satisfying when you test your designs and put it in front of people, and they give you positive feedback on it. That’s when it kind of gives me the most validation that there’s meaning behind what I’ve designed. And this is somehow improving someone’s life, even in the tiniest way. So yeah, testing my designs with users would be my favorite part.
That sounds really fun. And do you always know that working in this field was what you wanted to do? And how do you decide to go into this field?
Anita Garcia 9:06
So I did not know that I would study computer science from like an early age. At an early age. I like going back to eight years old, I thought I was going to be like a teacher. Although even when I was like 11 I did like make websites for fun. And I would like leave school early. I used to go to this like private school where as long as you finished your work, you can like leave for the day. So I would like leave at lunch and like go on my computer. But I had no idea about computer science, as you know, a field of study or software engineering as a career path. But what really made me decide to go on this path was actually a pitch it was pitched to me I went to this like presentation for this cohort in the area. So I live in the Monterey area was in Salinas at the time and there was a new program at CSUMB and the one One slide, the one statistic that got me to like kind of switch, my major actually was the career or the job to degree ratio. So for computer science and software engineering, and probably tech, in general, there’s more jobs and like, fewer, fewer degrees. And in other industries, like social sciences, it’s the opposite. So you’ll have like 100 graduates competing for 10 jobs, and it’s inverted for tech. So I thought that would be very practical. And I would build needed and wanted for my skill. So I went that way.
Kate Jung 10:46
I also didn’t know initially that I would want to do product design. But I remember always being involved in the creative field and sometimes strange ways. So back when I was 13, I was on this website called Wattpad. I don’t know if some of you know. But basically, it’s an online writing platform where anyone can read and write like original stories. And most famously, it’s kind of known for its fanfiction. So as a teenager, I was writing like really terrible fanfiction on this website, like every day. And then I started to get into creating graphics for my books like book covers, and book trailers, banners, things that I could use as a visual representation of my stories. So I downloaded like a bootleg version of Photoshop and started teaching myself how to make these graphics. And I think I designed like 100 really horrifying Harry Styles, fanfiction covers, until I realized that I loved graphic design. And that’s what I eventually I ended up studying in school and university. And I loved my program, because but I think around halfway through my degree, I started being interested in more of the digital design side and problem solving through design, rather than the more traditional graphic design that I was learning in school. So I worked part time at startups to build up my resume in product design. And then I kind of made the full switch after I graduated. So that’s pretty much my journey so far started with Wattpad.
Both of your stories were really interesting. What organizations can people get involved in that promote women’s involvement in tech? Are there any you are involved in? And if you aren’t involved in any organizations, are there any other ways you support young designers, researchers and engineers?
Anita Garcia 12:47
So I feel like I was most involved in college. Once full time came around, I was still kind of involved. But then once the pandemic hit became a little harder to meet in groups. But I’ll start with college. So there’s a few orgs. One actually, I started in at CSUMB, called her script. And we we started out there and supported, you know, women our age, and then we did outreaches for women, like younger women in the area. Now, I’d say like, if you don’t have that available, like you can always start your own thing, too. So you don’t, it doesn’t have to be an existing organization, you could find a friend or two and you know, put up a sort of like outreach program in your community. That’s what we did. But there’s also Girl Develop It that I helped start a chapter for. And then her script again, as now like a graduated working professional, we would do coffee meetups. So that was more focused on like, kind of networking. So it’s kind of evolved throughout the years. And there’s another great organization at heart. Now, I don’t remember the name off the top of my head, but it’s for promoting stem for younger girls. And yeah, so we did the first coding workshop there. I don’t know if they have anybody else, or if they even do them now that COVID is, you know, limiting. And if anybody’s curious about that, you can talk to me later because I don’t remember off the top of my head what the organization is called. Yeah, and then so I guess my biggest tip is like, you can always do it yourself. And you know if someone invites you to be a panelist one day, yeah, do that. You know, that’s kind of how I’m saying involved now. Yeah, I think that’s all I got.
Kate Jung 14:59
Um, so right now, I guess minor kind of design specific. But right now I’m involved in two UX design communities that promote woman’s involvement in tech. One of them is called hexagon UX. And then the other one is quite literally called woman in tech. So if you’re interested in product or UX design, I highly recommend those two, and they’re completely online. So you can participate via I think they use discord and slack. And what’s great about a lot of these communities is they’re all online now. So you can join virtually from anywhere. So hexagon UX is a nonprofit that helps empower women in UX through like free community and mentorship resources. And they have chapters all over the world as well. And then women in tech is a super helpful group that I joined a few years ago that gathers all women, identifying designers to share like job opportunities, practice mock interviews together and share insights about pay as well as this one is a more casual kind of discussion group. And I really liked them because they’re incredibly transparent. In like, involving, in conversations that aren’t usually discussed so openly, like I said, like about pay, and different job opportunities, tips on negotiating stuff like that. So I highly recommend those two, if you’re looking and you’re interested in design.
Faye Mensah 16:30
Thank you for sharing that advice. And about those organizations. If you can, please also share names or links in the chat. For anyone who’s interested in checking them out. We would also like to ask, like, according to Pew Research, STATISTICA, and the National Center for Women and Information Technology, as of 2021, only about 25% of women actually occupy the tech industry and only about 19% graduate with computer science degrees compared to 29%. That was in 2,039%. That was in 1997. The regression is even further broken down between occupations and race. And we would like to ask, like, with the rapid growth of overall employment in STEM, why do you think that there’s still such low involvement and continuous fluctuations of woman employment in the industry?
Anita Garcia 17:30
So it’s a really hard question to answer. But I’ve definitely like, experienced situations where like, I was only like, woman on the team. Not so much right now. So right now in government. Most engineers actually, in my team, are women, there’s one man and for women, so it’s like 75 25%, which is definitely, you know, not representative of the entire industry. But, yeah, I’m not I’m not entirely sure. But I would guess, like, the hustle culture has a lot to do with it. I think that it’s getting better. But, um, I think like, from a retention standpoint, that it can get exhausting, especially, you know, in like bigger companies, where they expect a lot of you I think this isn’t true for every single company, but I would guess it’s a factor. And then you maybe like, the reason why women don’t want to get into tech in the first place is that it’s kind of advertised as, like, a guy’s role and like, it kind of, you know, you hear of these like, CoderDojo and then like coding like a ninja, and it’s a very, like male kind of verbiage to describe coding. And, you know, you see, you see the memes of like, Guy coders and how they are and like, you start to kind of put that face on the role on tech on technical roles, at least for engineering. So, yeah, I don’t think it’s framed entirely accurately to begin with.
Kate Jung 19:24
Yeah, definitely agree on the culture aspect. Like I hear a lot about like the tech bro kind of scene. So yeah, plus one on that for sure. Um, I also think it’s difficult to say there, there may be a lot of reasons why there’s low involvement. But one thing that I would guess is that there is a lot of implicit bias in the hiring process. Still, if we have less diversity or woman hiring for roles in the first place, this may affect how companies hire and recognize talent when it comes to women. So it’s kind of like an endless cycle. When you don’t have diversity on the hiring team, you also don’t have diversity in the rest of your your team overall. And then also, I think what might hold women back from entering the tech field is because it’s so male dominated, they may feel like they have a need to meet more of the qualifications to be hired than males. For example, like I’ve heard of reports that found that men are often hired or promoted based on their potential and then woman for their experience and track record. So if women kind of have that message in their mind, it makes perfect sense why they would be less likely to apply for a job where they don’t really feel like they meet the qualifications perfectly. Whereas for a man and they might be more comfortable doing so even their qualifications.
Faye Mensah 20:55
Yeah, I definitely see where you’re coming from with the cultural aspect of definitely how that fight invites, that environment isn’t there, as an open space, it’s harder to get people to want to be engaged. But with the advocacy, and the movement and actions of organizations trying to come together to bring more women into tech into tech, how, how would you see the industry evolving with more involvement of women five years from now?
Anita Garcia 21:31
So this was a big question. And I think if you’d have asked me, like, two, two years ago, I think my answer would have been different. One, I just want to say that, I think five years is a very short horizon might kind of seem long now. But like, I just entered the workforce five years ago, both as a full time employee, and it’s gone by so quick. And, you know, back then I’ve, you know, or maybe like two years into two, three years into it, I would have said something along the lines of like, you know, with women like Ariana Huffington writing books about, you know, like sleep culture, like, she wants to, or hustle culture sorry, and advocating for sleep. I would say like I could see with women like that, there being less of a hustle culture, and, you know, there being more work life balance in, in the space. But I want to say that, like, I do think that the pandemic itself kind of expedited that a little bit, I feel like people now are kind of becoming more awakened to their work life balance needs. And this has been, you know, termed as the great resignation. So, um, I do think that that will continue forward. And hopefully, my aspiration and like Pollyanna perspective is that women will be the ones advocating to keep that as, like, an important variable. I also think that pay transparency is going to increase, because that is definitely still a problem in tech, and, you know, across across industries, but I think with more women in the field, I think that there will be more transparency, and then the pay gap will decrease. That’s my, my hope, maybe not in five years, but I think we’ll make some progress. Um, and I think that that’s all I have.
Kate Jung 23:43
Yeah, so, for me specifically in the field of like user centered design, I can see how it would impact the work that we create in a positive way. So one reason would be that the more inclusion we have in the people building experiences, the more inclusive those designs could be for users kind of similar to my last answer there. So, the meaning and the significance behind our work would improve a lot. And then another thing I guess, that I took away from my experience, so far is even now I feel terrible imposter syndrome as a very junior person in the company. So hopefully if we have a lot more women have a place in leadership roles, then it will kind of reduce that imbalance in power especially for those in higher severity. So with more women like becoming role models for those in junior positions in my help reduce the like the feelings of in significance for especially for the junior employees coming in. Yeah, for predominant and company in general.
Faye Mensah 25:00
I have like any advice or strategies to help those entering the tech field? Like, is there anything you wish you had known? Before you stepped in?
Anita Garcia 25:17
That’s a good question. Um, so just for entering the tech field, like, I feel like the kind of algorithm to get there is pretty straightforward. And I don’t really think there’s much to add there. But those steps being like, you know, get a strong foundation in computer science, if engineering is the place you want to go, you want to make sure you know, you understand, like, the basics of programming, things like data structures and algorithms, like you want to, like be solid on. And then like, you know, build things when you can, whether it’s in an internship, whether it’s like, for a local small business, like build your portfolio with, you know, applications, ideally, ones that use like a modern tech stack, I think you’ll go really far with that. And then also join like support networks, for sure. Like, if you can connect with people who are in the industry already, like that’s going to, or even are one level ahead of you, that’s going to help you a lot. So like, whatever stage you’re at, find someone that’s just like one step ahead of you to you know, like do practice interviews with or like, give you advice, or like someone you could like, even talk to about your imposter syndrome, like seeing them, like, at the next step that you want to be at, I think is gonna help you kind of trust the process a little bit more. And then other support groups, like, actually, the one that I work for part time is CTI computing talent initiative. And it’s for CS students across California, you can always, you know, join that, and they put you in touch with, you know, the industry, so you can actually have opportunities to interview with top tech companies. And then also have, you know, practice problem solving and practicing interview problems. crafting your resume and, and things like that.
Kate Jung 27:31
Yeah, I feel like I’m, I’m still figuring out the answer to this question myself and my own career. But two things that I’ve learned so far would be the first one is to become more comfortable with criticism. And by this, I’m not saying that you should, like accept negative feedback that come your way and internalize it, especially if it’s an unprofessional comment, or if it’s questioning your character in an unfair way. What I mean that, what I mean is that I think like, especially as a woman, sometimes it’s easy to dwell on criticism. And it makes us kind of question our place in the tech field. But it really helps to be your own cheerleader and reframe feedback to tell yourself, I’m receiving this criticism, which opens a door for me to stretch and improve for next time, it doesn’t indicate the position that I have in this industry. And then second, would be find a good mentor. So similar to nietos response where I think when you’re in a room where you feel like you don’t belong, it can be so isolating. So I would say just take the time to find a mentor and share your career trajectory with them. Because if you have that personal support, you have somebody who advocates for you or really helps you identify opportunities for growth, even if you don’t see that potential in yourself. Those two things have really helped me so far.
Faye Mensah 28:59
That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. Yes, having a mentor is definitely an important aspect of your growth. And I need it if you could share that mentorship group that you had noted before, that would be really great. Okay. What What would you say is your experience with the gender pay gap and how do you research companies and negotiate for a fair salary?
Anita Garcia 29:34
So my experience with this is that companies will usually have a set budget for the role. So I’ve had successful and unsuccessful instances with negotiation, also my first full time job. I was able to get more than the asking and it was a very, like A straightforward conversation. Yeah, and it was, I actually didn’t even ask for it. They asked me if I was okay with the salary. And my response was, Well, if this isn’t negotiable, then, you know, I have nothing to ask for. And they kind of kind of took that actually, as me what like asking. So they said, Okay, well, you know, we’ll increase it. So that that was good. And then when I, my job that I’m in now, I did actually ask for more. Because it was very similar to what I was making before, which kind of didn’t make sense to me, because there are two different roles. So I did ask for more. And in their context, like, that’s all they had the budget for, like they already like, went, like the extra they went to like the far end of the range for me. So I think what I would do in the future is actually ask them what their budget is. And go from there. Yeah, that’s, that’s in my experience with, with negotiating. There’s also like, if you want to find out what the ranges you know, you can go online and look firstname.lastname@example.org. But I would say that’s actually like, not the best way because it depends on like, kind of sub industry. So like, they’ll give you a range for like, all the positions on indeed. But you could, you know, be applying for me it was government. So it was there different ranges. So I did reference that. And, you know, they did say that, you know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t relevant, because they have their budget and it was fixed. But there are some other apps like fishbowl, I don’t know if you’ve heard that I’ll, I’ll link that to in a little bit. But fishbowl is another kind of like app sort of like Glassdoor, so people are sharing their salaries and things like that. So you can actually ask there, and especially if it’s a specific company that you’re looking to get into, I will definitely try to gather intel from people that are actually working there and having the roles that you want with the experience that you have.
Kate Jung 32:20
So for me, I think, and this is just a guess, for me, based on my personal experience, but I think I’ve experienced the gender pay gap issue just once kind of indirectly. Like I remember at one point in one of my previous startup jobs, I was having a conversation with a male coworker who was in the same position as me, same year of joining similar years of experience, kind of similar background. And he spoke about how much flexibility and leniency was given to negotiate his pay when he started out the company. And then on the other hand, I also negotiated but I was, it was a pretty difficult process, because I was given like either dodgy answers, or I was low balled a little bit more than what he was being offered. And so this was a moment where I felt like maybe one person did have the upper hand or was favored a little bit more during conversations around pay. And of course, I don’t know the full story, maybe he was just a better negotiator or his experience was valued more significantly. But I didn’t know for sure that we didn’t have a level playing field, when it came to this, we didn’t start on the same level in the pay band. And I was kind of a step behind in that case. So that’s kind of one experience that I’ve had so far, but I haven’t had too many surrounding the gender pay gap. And then in terms of how I researched companies and approach the negotiation process, I usually look up company salaries to like levels. FYI, I think someone just mentioned it in the chat as well. I also use PayScale and indeed. And then sometimes if I can’t find this information, I also dropped into like women in tech communities that share pay information transparently and see if I can find anything there. And then in terms of like negotiation practices in general, I try to get the hiring manager on my side if I can to be my advocate for a better offer. Because if they really, really really want to hire me, they can push a little bit for management to give you more sometimes depending on their budget, and it helps to build those relationships when you’re prepared and you’re really ready to make a pitch. So come with all that information prepared on why you think you’re worth a higher salary. And then why your credentials would help the organization succeed. And if I can just add one more thing um This is kind of counterintuitive, but there’s a lot of data to support this. And people who actually switched jobs actually get like a 10 to 20% increase. So people actually will do that if their company won’t give them a raise, they’ll actually like, move jobs. And it’s, it’s actually a great way to increase your income too.
Thank you both for sharing your experiences. And since we’re talking about the gender pay gap, I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. According to the Pew Research, one in five female STEM workers see their gender as the barrier to workplace success. Are there any biases that you feel you are judged for? And how do you navigate challenge them?
Anita Garcia 35:57
Yeah, so I’m a, you know, normally like, like, Hispanic women, woman in tech, but I’m also petite. So people will look at me just based on my like, height. And just like, you know, think of me as just, you know, having a small brain small skill set. And which is, you know, definitely not true. And I often forget how lucky I am. And, you know, being behind the screen kind of, doesn’t really make that a factor. But in person, I definitely do feel like, you know, people don’t expect, you know, solutions to come out of my mouth. People don’t expect for me to be able to, you know, meet a deadline or things like that. And I think it has to do with like, just my frame. I think it you know, and then another thing is, specifically in government work, I’m a federal contractor, and there’s in government, there’s like, this, just like admiration for rank, and like, the hierarchy is very strong. So if you are a government, like federal contractor, then you’re kind of like, treated differently. And this is across the board, like there’s, you know, been, like young, beautiful, very talented women that are federal contractors aren’t necessarily and engineering, but in other fields that won’t even be given like a desk. And I’m reading this book, and that was a case for this one woman named Ashley stall, pretty crazy. Like, she literally wasn’t given a desk. So you can kind of do that story see the difference in treatment, that like I have to deal with, in government. So that specifically is, like true. I also feel like, you know, sometimes, in order to be heard, I, somebody else has to, like, say what I just said, and it’s very, very annoying. And I try not to lose sleep over it, to be honest. I remind myself that I have other options. And, you know, people can think what they want to, and I have full agency and over my career trajectory and things like that. What else do I do to advocate for myself too, so I always make sure that, you know, I, I’m making sure I’m communicating my needs. And if you know, something goes way out of line, which it hasn’t thankfully, then I’ll, yeah, all, like, I could bring it up to HR. If that was ever the case, but nothing like that has happened. It’s more than like, maybe like, I’ll do the work or ask for more work if I’m not getting things assigned to me. So that’s kind of how I deal with it.
Kate Jung 39:12
Um, so I think I’m really lucky in that my current company at Spotify, I’ve never felt that my gender has affected the way that I was treated or perceived. So it’s been a really positive experience so far, but I do remember, like working in a more toxic work culture previously, and again, at one of the startups that I worked at, and the team I remember was made up of around 10 people and I was the only woman and I think something about me being a woman may have actually affected the way that I was perceived during meetings especially. I’ve always kind of been a soft spoken person to begin with, but I felt like that was taken advantage of at times in those meetings. here’s where my voice was not amplified, as well as the male designer who was working with me, I felt like I was being dismissed way more quickly when I brought up an idea or I was interrupted more often. So it was little tiny things. And then on top of that, feeling really intimidated by this group of nine men, I was starting to feel like I was kind of the smallest person in meetings. And so that made me feel a little bit like, made me feel like I was being judged a little bit differently than my male coworkers. How I dealt with it at that moment was to have a conversation with my manager who was male, I didn’t approach it as kind of like a woman’s issue. But I basically brought up that I was having these sorts of feelings and in these meetings, and these are some different ways that could help me feel more included in the conversation, especially being a softer, soft spoken person to begin with. And that actually helped him be more aware in meetings and asked me like specific questions. So I had an opportunity to, to sorry, to chime in and to feel heard, like allowing additional pauses. So I had the chance to kind of explain my ideas, and in depth, but I think I was lucky in that my manager cared about my growth as an employee in general. But ultimately, it wasn’t something that had actually occurred to him until I brought it up, because he didn’t experience the same thing as me. And so he was kind of oblivious to how it felt to be in my shoes until I brought it up to him. So that’s how I dealt with it in the moment at the time.
Faye Mensah 41:42
The next question has already been answered. But again, thank you for your answers. But we will move to the next question.
How do you stay motivated?
Anita Garcia 41:56
So I, my answer to this one was like, if you have like a means to an end job, versus like, a job that you have, because you’re passionate, I think that answer changes. So I’ve definitely had both. And in the like means to an end situation. I would definitely say like, have my financial goals have motivated me. And in the situations or like I actually really enjoy my work. What motivates me is like, the growth and contribution possibilities to the project. So yeah, I’ve definitely had both situations where, you know, it’s like, not a great experience. And I just, like the thing that like, you know, keeps me my fingers on the keyboard and like, eyes on the screen is definitely like my, like financial goals. Yeah, but other than that, like, I do get excited about like creating. Like, actually, so the job at CSUMB like actually does motivate me a lot in terms of like, what I can actually contribute and like programs I can create and curriculum I can create and things like that. So yeah, I definitely like the current my creative side of the brain is, I guess, more motivated in that case.
Kate Jung 43:26
I think what helps me is the fact that I’m working on a product that I myself as a human being really enjoy using. And I remind myself that I’m working on an experience that sits at the intersection of so many things involving like, human culture, because obviously music is so like embedded in our lives. It links our experiences together and it helps create communities form identities. So I love that I get to be part of, you know, this larger conversation as well. One example is I love going on like social media where a lot of people in our generation have culture defining moments like on Tik Tok, and then seeing people post about things like Spotify rap. Like, especially this year, there’s been a lot of memes about like music and Spotify. So I love going through those. And then even in my personal life, my family friends are all very passionate about music. And so they’re big fans of the experiences that I’m building. And that makes me really motivated and I work in a role that impacts their lives directly. So yeah, how I stay motivated is working on an experience that I personally believe in.
Faye Mensah 44:45
And as you go through that journey, motivating yourself how would you define your successes?
Anita Garcia 44:54
So I also thought about this from multiple angles. I thought about it in terms of like success as like a software engineer versus like, success is just like a human. And I think, like success in like, my day to day is like, kind of metric space like, you know, am I meeting like the deadlines? Am I actually like? I think that’s a big one meeting, meeting my deadlines and like actually getting the job done. Like, I’ve made it this far, you know, so I, yeah, like just being able to do the job. And then like me, as a human, I think I’m more excited about the answer. And that’s like, if I’m doing something that I love, that I’m good at the world needs, and that can pay me there’s this Japanese concept called iki. Guy. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that correctly. But it’s like the intersection of these four main areas. And I always try to, like, I try to move in that direction. I feel like once I reached that I kind of feel successful as a human. Yeah. So that’s, that’s my answer.
Kate Jung 46:14
My answers also similar, in that I think success as a designer is something different than my personal definition of success. So for example, as a designer, I think the three kind of pillars of success metrics would be business goals. So does it meet the overarching goals that you’ve decided on as a team? And by it, I meant the design that you created? And then user goals? Do users actually enjoy the experience that you’ve created? And then design goals that it does it adhere to the design principles and heuristics. And then in my personal life, also similar to Anita, I would define success as the moment when your intrinsic motivation is fulfilled. And what I mean is that a lot of times the achievements that we make at work are fulfilled externally like earning a raise or a promotion, or like getting a brand new job. And those are really great benchmarks of career progression. But I think what is true success is when I find something that’s naturally rewarding, and gives me a sense of meaning even while I’m reaching those external goals. So being able to work on something that kind of keeps the inner child in me constantly happy, engaging the core creative part of my brain would be success to me.
Thank you for your responses, what do you do to continue to empower yourself and other women while in the field?
Anita Garcia 47:52
So a big one is my involvement in CTI, so I help men and women, you know, make sure that they are putting their best foot forward when they are interviewing. I’ve done some like mentoring one on ones before, to help, you know, one of my friends break into the industry gave her a referral, which really put her you know, helped her break into the industry. So I think that was something big that I did recently. And then just at work, just like, you know, helping without, you’re taking my time to help, I would say is how I kind of do it, in that setting with a newer person, like our codebase is very complex, unnecessarily complex. So you know, when somebody is, is been being given like a ton of tasks, with like very little onboarding, like I try my best to help you in those situations.
Kate Jung 49:03
I think what I’ve started to learn, just working as a full timer for six months now is that we don’t get enough validation that we’re doing well at work. Whereas at school you have like grades and report cards and frequent like meetings with your professor at work, sometimes you don’t get a lot of like check in points where you realize that was awesome or that was not so awesome. So what I try to do is to celebrate mine and other woman’s achievements more openly, and that’s not just excluding like men. I try to do this for all all the people in my team. So just hearing from from someone else that you did great in that presentation or your work looks amazing, I think can be the best form of engagement just to get through a difficult day, especially if you’re a woman or a woman of color, or navy. You undervalued into a workplace. So those little comments, I think, help a little bit. And then I guess also being vulnerable helps. Sometimes, I found that it’s sometimes hard to kind of start a conversation around these topics, especially in a workplace setting. So sharing my struggles with other woman being the first to reach out and say, Hey, I’m really struggling with this or just challenging. That usually opens the door and encourages them to also discuss it with me. So yeah.
Thank you. And since you mentioned men, in your responses, do you have any strategies for bringing men into the conversation about women? or marginalized genders?
Anita Garcia 50:47
Yeah, so this is a great question. And so my answer here is like, I thought about this on for a while, actually. And, you know, my boyfriend’s also in the industry. He’s a chief engineer at a startup where he works at now. And he does talk to me about how one of his co workers, she’s a designer, actually how she gets treated by the CEO, and mainly the CEO, actually, because they work together a lot. And he kind of micromanagers her and kind of makes it feel like he can just do the job and doesn’t respect design as like, a skill. And he talked to me about ways that, you know, he checks in with her and like, says, Hey, I know you’re being I can see that you’re being treated this way. And then he’ll like advocate for her. But to start with, like, the attributes that he has, like, he, he, I feel like, I mean, for me, I feel safe around him. I feel like heard and respected by him. And I feel like he, he makes women feel that way that he works with as well. So my tip would be like, if you have a friend, in the end in the tech industry, who makes you like, just on a personal level makes you feel like safe around them makes you feel heard and respected? Like chances are the other woman around him like feel that way. So what I would say is like, ask him like, Hey, how are women treated on your team? And like, just let them respond to that. And then if it’s negatively, you can always ask them like, Do you do anything to change that? Or have you considered doing anything to change that and kind of see where that conversation goes? Yeah, I think I think that was my best answer.
Kate Jung 52:47
For, for me, I think I’ve had a couple of instances where men are about gender issues, but they don’t really want to get involved because they feel like they don’t have a place in the conversation. And I think partly it’s because they frame gender equity as a woman’s issue, but they often forget that it improves the lives of men too. So I would go into the conversation by reminding them that it’s a workplace issue, or it’s a general human issue, rather than a woman’s issue. And then also paid blame because it can get counterproductive. One of the most productive routes to having those conversations and inspiring action is one that kind of has a positive emotional response. So instead of I guess, like guilt tripping men into doing the right thing, uplift them by kind of telling them the benefits that it would bring to not only woman but also the entire workplace, or the industry. I think that that would really help.
Faye Mensah 54:01
And discussing about change and improvement of the workplace, making it more inclusive for both sides of gender, all types of gender. To wrap up the discussion, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see changed in the tech industry?
Anita Garcia 54:23
Um, I think pay equity is the biggest one. I think more work life balance is another one. I think between those two. If those two were radically reimagined, then I think workplaces would be much happier, more productive, or profitable even. Yeah, I think those are my top two.
Kate Jung 54:54
My answer is the same thing we’re in need out on where work, life balance, mental health support, especially, I think nowadays the lines are kind of blurred between work and leisure, especially when you’re working from home. So you’re already suffering from a pretty sedentary Is that how you say, lifestyle physically, as well as kind of burnout for sitting in front of a screen for a really long time. And then there’s also the fact that you have really little social interaction and genuine social interactions with other employees. So it feels really isolating. So if every company tries harder to alleviate this, to create formal mental health stays off of work, implement, like workplace programs to help employees, I think it’d be really amazing to see.
Thank you so much for all your answers. So now we’re gonna move into the q&a section. So we’re just gonna open the floor for all of you to ask any questions you have, this is a great opportunity to ask Kate and Nina about their work and experiences. And you can unmute or drop your questions in the chat, and then we’ll read them aloud. We’re just going to start with a few we had in the chat. So the first one is someone asked if there’s pay gaps for for profit and nonprofit companies.
Anita Garcia 56:19
The question was if there’s pay gaps in both profit and nonprofit?
Yeah. I think I think it was in both or maybe it was between the two. I don’t know if you want to clarify that. Or if you guys have any answer, you can go ahead.
Anita Garcia 56:31
I think this is across, like, all industries, and like all roles. Yeah, I think this is this is a general workforce problem, if I’m not mistaken. Yeah, even Yeah, I read something recently by someone who actually analyzes like, this data, and he, he did say that there’s a pretty clear difference, statistically significant difference, meaning that it’s, it’s not like a coincidental thing like it actually there’s there’s enough data to show that there’s a gap in the pay between genders across industries and roles.
Kate Jung 57:22
Yeah, I’ve never worked in a nonprofit before. So I’m not sure. Like I haven’t had a personal experience. But I’ve also read something similar to what Anita was saying about this is a general kind of issue, nonprofit versus for profit. But yeah, I don’t really have a personal account or response to that, really.
Thank you; and then we have another question. Um, so you mentioned earlier about moving to another job to earn more money? Can you expand on that? And just clarify a little what you’re talking about?
Anita Garcia 58:01
Yeah, I think I’ll try and find the Forbes article that talked about it. But um, so what happens is like, if you move jobs, you typically will, like you can ask for like 10 to 20, or 30%, more than what you’re making now. And data does show that people who stay at their company actually earn less over time than people who would kind of job hunt or job hop, it takes a lot of courage to Job hop, because, you know, the process isn’t straightforward all the time. Even though kind of you know, a lot of people depending on the circles you’re in will talk a lot about it, at least in my circles, they talk a lot about switching jobs is like hey, like this is a great way to make more money. But it’s not always that easy. Right? There’s yeah, there’s a lot that you have to kind of consider, depending on like, you know, if you’re changing industries, if you’re changing roles. Yeah, like the plan is going to look different for you. But yeah, let me find the let me find the article and I’ll let Kate speak on this if if she wants to.
Kate Jung 59:19
Uh no, I think you covered it.
Okay, great. And then I’ll let Kate answer this one first. Just what were the most important factors that when into choosing the current position you’re in?
Kate Jung 59:34
That’s a great question. Um, so for context, I don’t think I mentioned it before. But after I graduated, I interned at Spotify over the summer and then I converted that to a full time offer. So it was a scenario where I had kind of like a test trial with the company and then decided to start my career trajectory here. And that decision was So, because I think going into like a tech company, especially a larger one, I kind of had this like preconceived notion of like this stuffy corporate company, like because as a junior designer, like I had this thought that I wouldn’t get as much impact in the projects that I work on. So what I really loved about Spotify was that there’s a huge emphasis in the people culture, in being forward thinking, being experimental, and then being open to failure. And so as a student, while it felt really daunting to join a new company, I saw that my manager, my coworkers, were also supportive of me, even when my work wasn’t like perfect, or I wasn’t happy with how it turned out. And I was able to identify learning moments from each and every projects that I did. So I love that they pushed me to grow immensely, encouraged me to be less afraid of imperfection as a designer. So that and I love that hat. I love how Spotify kind of keeps that innovative spirit alive. So yeah, I think I really identified a growth opportunity here as a junior designer, because of those factors.
Great, that sounds like a really good culture to work in. And then any, if you want to talk about what led to your current job.
Anita Garcia 1:01:23
So before this job, I was actually working at CSUMB full time. And for some context, before that I was, you know, in school, I had done like, three internships while I was in undergrad. To one of them was research, one of them was a startup, and one of them was Salesforce, I did get a return offer from Salesforce. But at the time, I actually didn’t want to move into San Francisco, or really work on the team that was hiring me. Because I would have to work on the same project I worked on over the summer and was interested in that. So just you know, looking for something a little more South Silicon Valley closer to the Monterey area. And coincidentally found a coordinate, its computer science education coordinator position. So it’s kind of a hybrid role of multiple things. And adjusting for like cost of living and like taxes, it actually ended up being very similar and pay. So I took that and then pivoted into software engineering. And when I did that, I messaged like, my only kind of concern was like to get a software engineering job, like I wrote my goal down and it was like, get a software engineering job in Monterey, like I would be happy if I can find like a life here. So I reached out to just my network of friends and said, Hey, like I’m looking for a job. I forget how exactly phrased it but is your team hiring. And my he was my TA, for my software engineering class, my senior year and undergrad, he actually was leaving his role. And said, I’m leaving, like my role, and basically referred me. And then I did the interview, it was actually the role was for a level higher than what I got hired for. But I applied anyway. And they actually created a role for me, which was kind of cool, actually. So a lot of lessons there. Right, like, apply for the job anyway, if even if you don’t qualify like you never know what the needs of the company are. So that’s kind of how it actually happened for me.
And that’s great. And you kind of answered the next question about your process of getting the job. I’m actually have a question for Nina. You mentioned all these books, you’re reading and articles, how do you go about finding these materials to kind of like expand your knowledge outside of work?
Anita Garcia 1:04:05
Um, so fun fact, actually run like a personal finance Instagram account. So I’m actually like, thinking about money, like all day, I actually will will never I’m the first one to tell you I will never like lose my peace of mind for money ever. But I have to be aware of it because I always try to optimize for like, a great life and lifestyle. So I am thinking about like, these things. So yeah, I think you know, just having questions and answers on my profile, like people will ask me questions, or I’ll ask myself questions. So I feel like I’m learning like every day. But yeah, basically, if I have a question, I just like, won’t really stop until I find an answer.
And then Kate, do you have any good resources for finding out things outside of work any information about new trends or new things to stay on top of?
Kate Jung 1:05:12
Yeah, mine’s a lot more my answers a lot more straightforward. Um, I use medium design. A lot of designers I find use medium to like write articles on best practices, things they’ve learned throughout their career trajectory. And I find that really helpful, because they’re all very personal accounts of what being a designer is like. And I also just in my free time, like I like to watch little YouTube videos made by other UX designers. And I creep around in things in websites like dribble where designers shared or work, kind of like Pinterest. So dribble is a really great website to check out as well as Behance. Those two are kind of the largest design community sharing websites. So I’d recommend those resources if you’re looking to get into the industry.
Perfect, thank you. Is there any more questions? Feel free to unmute if you guys have anything to say? Otherwise, we’ll wrap up.
Anita Garcia 1:06:22
Oh, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn by the way, maybe I should I share my LinkedIn profile real quick.
Kate Jung 1:06:39
I’ll share mine as well in the chat.
Perfect, thank you. And then I just have a couple more slides to share and then we’ll wrap up share my screen here. And then here’s just some ways you can connect with our club if you want to stay in touch. And if you haven’t already, we have our Instagram or email, our website and our QR code. You can also join us on our website. And then same thing for Wix, you can always reach out through email or join on my raft. And that’s all we have for today. Thank you so much for joining us. And thank you especially to our panelists for our discussion. I think it was really insightful and we learned a lot. Have a great rest of your day everyone.
Anita Garcia 1:07:53
Bye. Thank you.
Audience Member 1:07:55