From community organizing to empowering fellow female tech entrepreneurs, these women are to be admired this Women’s Day
Today is International Women’s Day, and we, the men and women at LAMA, have spent the last year interviewing and finding inspiration in the fantastic female entrepreneurs around the world. They’ve founded companies, paved the way for others, invested in their peers and given back to their communities in ways never seen before. We’re constantly amazed by how the female entrepreneurs of the LAMA community use their success for the betterment of man & womankind. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year, it’s that a rising tide lifts all boats. We’d like to talk about three of the Silicon Valley-based female LAMA interviewees who exemplify #goals on International Women’s Day 2019.
Originally from Southern California, Rubi Martinez is a Community Manager onsite at Google via Adecco. Before beginning her work at Google, she co-organized an International Women’s Day conference in partnership with Women Techmakers in 2018, where “the speakers were all women and non-binary people in tech who wanted to inspire, educate and connect with other amazing women.”
Rubi honed her community organizing and management skills during her time with the Women Techmaker’s Women’s Day 2018 satellite event series. “It was my first time putting up a conference, and I was in charge of several key parts of the conference including leading logistics and fundraising for the event. Being able to execute and successfully find speakers, create a budget, and fund our conference was amazing. I really enjoyed being able to help execute the logistics and get things done to make the conference possible, and be able to celebrate women”
Now her career has come full circle — now she’s continuing to utilize her talents on the on the Actions on Google DevRel team to build communities for one of the biggest tech companies in the world. A couple of months after Women’s Day 2018, the opportunity to work onsite at Google came as a result of Rubi’s collaboration with her co-organizer, who recommended her for the position and made an introduction to her now manager. By proving her dedication to the success of the Women Techmaker’s Women’s Day event, Rubi showed how talented she could be in any community management position.
Through her experience co-organizing the event, she saw how “women connected over their experiences on the gender pay gap, lacking support or sometimes as simple as being the only women on the team. However, having this commonality allowed many women to connect with one another and create such an amazing energy of a large group of women supporting one another.”
While much of the public discourse surrounding the state of women’s rights has focused on the progress that still must be made, Rubi chooses to take a more optimistic approach. She’s seen first-hand just how great an impact community organization and outreach can have on the female tech community. “This year has been a great year for women in the political landscape and it has been so refreshing! It’s so wonderful to see so many empowered women decide to take control, I am looking forward to all the changes and impact they will make.”
Last year, we interviewed Alaina Percival, Founder & CEO of Women Who Code for our last International Women’s Day article on the importance of women helping other women in tech. Women Who Code “is an international nonprofit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. WWCode is building a world where women are represented as technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members and software engineers.”
Back in 2018, Alaina spoke about how the tech environment in Silicon Valley is oftentimes a “boys club.” “Perception is really important and right now there is a false view of tech as being a boys club. While there are more men in the industry statistically, one of the things that Women Who Code focuses on is highlighting and celebrating the women who are already doing amazing things in the field. Making sure that they have visibility will then make it easier for young women to consider their own careers in tech, because they’ll know that they won’t be alone.”
A lot has changed for Women Who Code in the past year. They launched a range of new series of WE RISE leadership summits both domestically and internationally, they reached over 150,000 members worldwide, and launched an initiative with VMware to Retrain 15,000 Women for Technical Jobs in India. Alaina and Women Who Code also won the Watermark Impact Award late last year.
There’s more progress, action and discussion’s on women’s rights taking place today than ever before, but this has also made women realize just how far they still have to go to experience true equality. We’ve seen a rise in female leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives, but still need to focus on the road ahead.
When asked about how the discussion surrounding equality and parity has changed in the last year, Alaina said, “We’ve seen is a large number of women who’ve earned and been elected to leadership positions, effectively changing the face of leadership and the idea of what a leader looks like, and who a leader is. What we need to be seeing more of this coming year is companies really investing in change and best practices and evaluating their own systems for addressing inequalities and coming up with action plans.”
Alaina said that over the past year she’s realized that it’s often “difficult for women to talk about their career successes, and a little bit more difficult for society to hear us do it. We’re trying to create a sense of normalcy around sharing those successes day-to-day. I realized how important it was for our organization to be doing this when I was speaking with the Director of Engineering and she said, ‘you know Alaina, you’re right, I’ve actually been promoted to Senior Director of Engineering and I’ve been embarrassed to update my LinkedIn profile.’”
A recently-published book, The Confidence Code discusses why women tend to play down their success in everyday life. Evidence shows that active self-promotion could harm a woman’s career, given that they’re going against the stereotype of the “caring, dependent and humble” female employee. There’s a backlash effect once they step out of bounds, and successful women are seen as haughty, unlikable, and pushy – and are often kept from being promoted further. This has led to the trend of women talking less about their successes and accomplishments so as not to experience such backlash. “If we’re uncomfortable talking about really amazing successes in our careers – throughout our entire career – we miss out on a lot of opportunities. Women Who Code is really working to overcome that social and societal culture of It being uncomfortable to talk about these career successes.”
The last Silicon Valley-based female entrepreneur we’d like to commend is Rebecca Alvarez Story. She is the Founder & CEO of The Bloomi, an e-marketplace that sells nontoxic intimate care products. Rebecca encourages women to be the “CEO of your own body,” and The Bloomi’s website offers not only products for women’s health, but books for new mothers and advice on how women can celebrate their own sexual agency. She’s successfully taken on a topic that until only recently was seen as taboo, and has made a career of helping women feel more comfortable, safe and liberated. All over the globe, women like Rebecca are pioneering the women’s sexual health industry (sisters are doing it for themselves!), and we’re here for it!
When asked what advice she has for other female founders looking to establish their own women’s health and wellness brands/companies, she says that women need to believe in their ideas and just take the leap. “If you are a woman and you are considering starting a business, I would tell you to go for it if you’re ready. The business space just needs more women CEO’s to support other women. I would tell you that the hours are pretty crazy, they’re pretty long, so it’s something that requires 110% on your part. I have also learned that as a female founder we need to be very flexible…your original idea might not be what the business ends up being, but if you believe in your idea, if you have energy and the passion to follow it, I say go for it.”
She also highlights how important it is for women in business to connect and discuss their work with each other. The reason initiatives like Women Who Code and other female entrepreneur meetups are so successful is because they give female entrepreneurs the chance to build the networks that oftentimes streamline success. “Female founders should connect with other female founders. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten has been from other women in business. Even though I have my close friends and women I go to unwind, have dinner, have happy hour, you really do need other ‘businesswomen’ in your life and close circle in order to have that network and that advice.”
Rubi, Alaina, and Rebecca exemplify just how important it is for women to gain more visibility in the tech and entrepreneurial world. As community organizers, entrepreneurs and pioneers, they’ve made their mark on the tech space. We admire them and their work, and we look to them whenever we need some “wominspiration.”
So this International Women’s Day, think about how your work contributes to the rise of not only yourself, but your community. Silicon Valley is slowly, but surely, becoming a fantastic ecosystem for female trendsetters and trailblazers, and the global tech space should follow suit.
Jill Beytin is an American print and radio journalist and podcaster based in Berlin.
If you enjoyed this article, why not read ‘The Rise-And Need-of Female Investment’. With the gender pay gap at the forefront of today’s women’s rights discussion, female investors are taking matters into their own hands.
Happy International Women’s Day 2019, from Team LAMA